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How to get to Zero Waste

By Bertie Lourens 27th September 2019 Waste Management

Zero waste to landfill is possible - here are some ways to get there which you may not have considered yet.

News alert: for its size, South Africa is leaving behind some very large footprints - and they’re not the kind we can be proud of. As it stands, our nation is ranked as the 17th dirtiest energy producer on the planet amongst the 169 most populated countries worldwide - out-polluting nations like the UK and France. Fast approaching is “Day Full” - the day when our landfills will be over-capacitated and closed for business.

Of course the Carbon Tax bill is one interventionary tool aimed at curbing our ravenous energy consumption. The hope is that an additional gut punch to their bottom line will have companies scrambling for cleaner, cheaper waste management solutions - to which they’ll stumble upon a trove of attractive zero waste to landfill alternatives.

There are in fact a number of exciting options that can redirect your waste away from landfill and generate exceptional value for your company’s pocket, and the economy at large. Here are some great innovations to consider:

Separate your waste at the source

Did you know that if you separate your waste at the point where it is generated, you could achieve as high as 90% waste to landfill diversion rate.

Contamination of waste is the biggest reason for low landfill diversion and when you start with a separation at source program, you could immediately increase your overall landfill diversion rate with as much as 50%.

Recycling of organic waste

In some cases we have found that the organic waste within the general waste stream make up as much as 55% of all the waste. In cases like these it makes a lot of sense to separately collect and handle such organic waste. Once this is done, you can send it to a variety of places that could use this waste:

    • Biodigestion

      Biogas, a blend of gases that is naturally produced from the decomposition of organic waste, is a great low-carbon energy alternative. By converting organic matter into energy, biogas is doing what nature does best: recycling old matter into new productive resources.

      When organic matter breaks down anaerobically in a landfill, 50-60% of the gases generated are methane - a gas with a global warming potential 21 times higher than that of carbon dioxide. By 2028 in the Western Cape, legislation will ban the disposal of organic waste to landfill altogether, and we will be forced to find other solutions for our organic disposal. Biogas can become the effective solution for clean, alternative energy in the future.

    • Insect Bioconversion

      Insects are fed with organic residue, fattened and then harvested at “critical mass” to become a swathe of valuable resources. For one, insects are being used as protein-rich animal feed that can replace carbon-heavy traditional protein like soy and fishmeal. They can be used as soil conditioners, wellbeing products, and the necessary ingredients for biodiesel. And interestingly, bugs are proving very effective in munching up our food waste and converting our old shopping list into a range of new, useful products.

      The results (an insect-based, complete protein commodity - MagMeal™, an extracted fat – MagOil™ and a rich residual soil conditioner – MagSoil™) are high-demand commodities that add value and reduce your overall waste.

    • Composting

      Let’s not forget about composting - a global trend that’s on the rise with promising market returns. The brilliant thing about composting is that everyone can do it, whether in a rooftop bin or in the corner of the backyard.

      There are many smaller commercial operators that produce compost in most of the cities in South Africa and we could help direct you to the closest compliant composter that can receive and process your organic waste (if it is free from packaging contamination).

Are you looking for a zero waste to landfill solution? Click below to contact us and find out more on how to start your zero to landfill journey.

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Non-organic, non-recyclable waste

Once all the recyclable and organic waste has been separated and diverted away from landfill, most companies will still have a small residue of waste that has no possible home besides landfill.

If the first two stages of waste separation have been implemented effectively, the remains will tally up to 10%-20% of the total waste stream.

For this last bit of residue there are very specialised solutions that cost money, but for those who are serious about achieving “zero waste to landfill” status, we could help direct your waste to these solutions:

    • Pyrolysis

      Pyrolysis is a thermochemical treatment, which can be applied to any organic (carbon-based) product. In this treatment, common waste materials are exposed to high temperatures and converted into all kinds of new solutions including;
      1. Methanol
      2. Activated carbon
      3. Charcoal
      4. Other substances from wood
      5. Synthetic gas for producing electricity
      6. Building material
      7. Feedstock

      Pyrolysis reduces both your waste to landfill and greenhouse gas emissions. It reduces the risk of water pollution. It offers the affordable option of energy generation from domestic resources, and it’s a fairly fast, accessible technology to introduce into the market.

      There is currently one company in South Africa who is in the process of constructing such a plant and a few that are in late planning stages. Speak to us, we could help you plan where to send this waste stream once these plants are commissioned

    • Waste2brick

      There is a new and very innovative technology that has been developed internationally and about to be deployed in South Africa. This plant is also in a very late stage of planning and we could expect to see operations in the last quarter of 2020. 

      Once again we keep our ears close to the ground and will be able to help you plan where to send your waste.

New innovations are making Zero Waste to Landfill a reality. Interested to see how it can be your reality too? Request a Waste Audit today.

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Bertie Lourens

Author Bertie Lourens

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