Don’t bury waste in a landfill, turn it into an opportunity

As the human population increases and economies worldwide become progressively industrialised, we need to look for ways to maximise the opportunities and minimise the risks associated with the waste our society produces. Not only does litter from packaging spoil our natural beauty and damage the health of plants and animals, but gases released from food waste decomposing at landfills contribute significantly to global warming. The good news is that these waste streams can instead improve our livelihoods and the economy if we can only make minor changes to our lifestyles.

The City of Cape Town is calling on residents to renew efforts to minimise the waste produced in their households. Society is getting back to business as usual, but this doesn’t have to mean going back to waste as usual as well. As such, we want to remind residents and communities of the various options available to help them reduce their footprint on the planet, and take advantage of the potential opportunities their waste could provide.

Below are some useful information and tips to help reduce the amount of household waste generated and disposed.

Tips for reducing waste

• Buy only what you need

• Buy in bulk and cut down on products with lots of packaging – refills and concentrates generally require less packaging.

• Take your own bags to grocery stores.

• Buy products that are made from recyclable or recycled materials.

• Choose durable products that won’t need to be replaced often.

• Avoid buying disposable products.

• Get creative and DIY or make your own gifts and wrapping paper – consider non-material gifts such as a night-out or cooking a meal for someone.

• Avoid printing if possible, or only print and photocopy both sides of any paper you use.

Recyclable waste (plastic, cans, glass and paper products)

You can drop off residential or commercial waste recyclables via several waste management services, including drop-off sites, private recycling collection services or buy-back centres, industrial symbiosis, waste exchange or community-based programmes.

Find out what household and commercial waste can be recycled with our Recycling guide.

The City also runs a recycling collection service (known as ThinkTwice) in some areas at the moment, which is planned to expand progressively. Residents and businesses can check if they fall within the ThinkTwice areas, as well as find private waste management companies throughout Cape Town at the map below: Waste Recyclers Map (

Organic waste

When organic waste decomposes in a landfill site, methane gas is released. Methane gas has a global warming potential approximately 25 times greater than carbon dioxide. If organic waste is beneficiated in other ways, such as composting, this methane release is avoided, thus reducing the carbon footprint significantly. Composting also enriches your soil and stimulates your flower or vegetable garden, which is a direct benefit to you as a resident.

In Cape Town, the City is running a programme to promote home composting, and continues to trial various options for organic waste separation/drop-off at household level.

Residents can start composting on their own however. Information on how to do so is also contained here.

We also encourage residents to drop off garden greens for free at our drop-off sites.

‘If the City and residents can work together on this effectively, the results will be plain to see. There will be less dumping and communities will benefit from cleaner spaces, that can give our children hope for a better future. Compost could even be used for healthy and productive vegetable and community gardens.

‘Donating your recyclables to the community organisations, schools or entrepreneurs who are involved in recycling, is a direct investment in those community groups or small business livelihoods, strengthening Cape Town’s resilience and prosperity as a whole.

‘Waste minimisation can also help households save money. If their bin is overflowing every week, for instance due to many families living on the property, or backyard tenants, waste minimisation can help avoid the need to apply for another one, at additional cost. Waste minimisation will also reduce risk that the bin contents will be dumped in a nearby field or informal dump site before the next collection days. If communities can come together around this strategy, the potential to improve their area is massive,’ said Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Waste Management, Alderman Grant Twigg.

Source: City Of Cape Town