Towards attaining the Polokwane waste reduction goals – where are we?
The concept of sustainable waste management has increased in momentum as it attempts to deal with society’s waste in an environmentally efficient, economically affordable and socially acceptable manner. Rapid population growth, the use of high-tech materials and the tendency to concentrate in large cities have resulted in increasing amounts of waste being generated. The resultant effect is increasing pressure on waste management resources, such as landfills, collection and disposal services and the environment. The Polokwane Declaration set targets of zero waste to landfills by 2022 and to reduce the same by 50% by the year 2012. The set target of zero waste to landfills was recently revised to 70% waste to landfills by 2022. It is four years before the first target date, and progress made thus far has not been very encouraging. This article examines and analyses the progress made against these targets using the data from the City of Johannesburg, and evaluates the possibility of achieving both the 2012 and the 2022 targets. Evidence presented in the article points to the following possibilities: the set targets are too ambitious and may not be achieved in the set time frames and, if these targets are to be achieved, significant resources and effort will need to be expanded to make the necessary progress. The article ends by drawing certain conclusions and making recommendations aimed at assisting the authorities in South Africa to make reasonable progress in this noble intention.
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