7 things you didn’t know about waste

Picture: Nathan Copley/Pixabay

Picture: Nathan Copley/Pixabay

Published May 19, 2021


Dominic Naidoo lists shocking facts about the waste South Africans generate.

Did you know…

1. In 2017, South Africa generated around 54.2 million tonnes of general waste with only an estimated 10% of this waste recycled or recovered for other uses - according to the South Africa State of Waste Report published by the Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries.

2. Municipal and household waste amounted to 8.9 % or around 4.82 million tonnes.

3. South Africans generate 2.5kg of waste per person, per day and with an annual population growth of just over 744 000, these numbers are nowhere near sustainable - according to an article published by the Association of Water and Rural Development.

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4. Only 12,9% of metropolitan households reported that they recycled, followed by 10,8% of urban households with only 3% of households in rural areas recycling, according to a new report published by Statistics South Africa titled: Environment, an in-depth analysis of the General Household Survey 2002–2016.

5. 75.8% Of South Africans did not see the need to recycle when rubbish can just be thrown in the bin. Out of sight, out of mind.

6. In February 2019, only two municipalities in the entire country could legally continue using their landfill as there was still airspace available, the rest have legally reached their capacity and should not be taking in more waste. The majority of South Africa’s legal landfill sites do not fulfil their regulatory requirements or Waste Facility Norms & Standards gazetted by Government.

7. A 2017 report published by the World Wildlife Fund stated that South Africa generates 10 million tonnes of food waste annually which is nearly a third of the food that is produced.

Perishables such as fruit, vegetables and cereals make up around 70% of this wastage which occurs primarily in the food supply chain. To put it in perspective, we throw away 1 apple for every 2 we eat.

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