What is Separation at Source?
Separation at Source refers to the practice of sorting recyclable material from your general household waste at the point of generation. It is a way to prevent dry recyclable waste from becoming contaminated and ending up at a landfill site.
Households participating in a Source Separated Recycling initiative will receive separate bags i.e. a clear / coloured bag for dry recyclable material and a black bag for all other general waste.
Residents are also encouraged:
- Not to place kitchen scraps out for disposal, but rather to start their own composting in the back-yard.
- To take garden waste to their nearest drop-off site.
Why is separation at source important?
Separating recyclable materials – glass, paper, metals and certain plastics – out of the waste stream reduces the amount of waste going to disposal / landfills.
Recycling reduces the need for raw materials in the manufacturing process, and recycled products usually require less water and energy to produce than products made from virgin materials.
Many recyclable waste items, like white paper, become valueless when contaminated. Recycling buyers compensate for dirty glass and metal cans to the detriment of the seller.
It also makes it easier for recyclers to identify and process recyclables.
What is recyclable waste?
Recyclable waste refers to waste that can be kept for an extended period without decomposing, such as paper, plastics, metal and glass.
Examples of dry recyclables include:
Paper– newspapers, magazines, books, printer paper, cardboard, cartons
Plastics– carry bags, beverage bottles, milk bottles, yoghurt and margarine tubs
Metal– beverage and food cans
Glass– glass bottles and glass jars
What does the legislation say?
NEMWA -Waste Act (2008) calls for increased diversion of waste away from landfill towards re-use, recycling and recovery. The aim is to reduce pressure on landfill airspace, while creating jobs and business opportunities, especially for SMMEs.
The Guidelines for the Separation of Waste at Source are aligned to the National Domestic Waste Collection Standards Section 4.1, which stipulates how separation at source should be conducted in municipalities.
Separation at source must be encouraged and supported in line with the relevant industry waste management plans. In addition, all domestic waste must be sorted at source (i.e. households) in all municipalities; community involvement in recycling must be encouraged.
Separation at source must be implemented in line with the Municipality’s Integrated Waste Management Plan and Waste By-laws to mitigate against increasing waste generation, landfill airspace depletion, environmental degradation and pollution as a result of illegal dumping, littering etc.
It is recognized that services rendered in respect of separation at source may differ between areas, depending on the practicality and cost efficiency of delivering these services.
The Municipality must provide an enabling environment for households to recycle domestic waste. An enabling environment could include kerbside collection and / or drop-off centres within easy access of households. Where the Municipality does not provide for the kerbside collection of the recyclable component of source separated waste, it must co-operate with the recycling sector to ensure the provision of facilities where recyclables can be dropped off for collection by service providers.
How does this link in with a Green Economy?
The Green Economy is geared to support sustainable consumption, aiming for sustainable development without degrading the environment.
If the focus is on waste separation and resource-efficiency, households or individuals create a supply of usable materials (recyclable or reusable waste) which can provide income to themselves or other parties (recycling sector).
The Green Economy is linked to the waste hierarchy (reduce, reuse, recycle, repair) and sustainability. By reducing the amount of waste going to landfills, economic opportunities can be created by re-using or recycling ventures. This is important, because landfills create greenhouse gas emissions, which (if not managed) contribute negatively to air quality and climate change.