Waste management is one of the worst challenges facing South Africa. Waste and pollution pose a serious threat to human health and integrity of the environment.
People are waste generators, but also possess the ability to manage and minimize this waste.
- Resources and space are finite as the Earth is not getting any bigger so waste is ultimately not sustainable.
- The presence of waste is an indication of overconsumption and that materials are not being used efficiently.
- This is carelessly reducing the Earths capacity to supply new raw materials in the future.
- The capacity of the natural environment to absorb and process these materials is also under stress.
- Valuable resources in the form of matter and energy are lost during waste disposal, requiring that a greater burden be placed on ecosystems to provide these.
- The main problem is the sheer volume of waste being produced and how we deal with it.
What is Waste?
Any substance that is –
- disposed of;
- but once re-used, recycled and recovered it is no longer waste
Methods of managing waste include:
- Waste minimization is an approach that aims to reduce the production of waste through education and the adoption of improved production processes and less wasteful practices.
- Recycling, by separating certain materials within the waste stream and reprocessing them.Â The recycling of many materials is currently not financially viable.
- Waste processing is treatment and recovery (use) of materials or energy from waste through thermal, chemical, or biological means.