Beating plastic pollution

Johannesburg recently held a World Environment Day clean-up campaign. This comes after the United Nations decided to have the first World Environment Day in 1972. Since then, this auspicious day has been celebrated all over the world, with this year’s theme being “Beating Plastic Pollution.”
“As the government of the City of Johannesburg, we are mindful that a sustainable city requires partnerships with all communities to protect the environment – and ultimately – ourselves. We need to remind ourselves that what we do today will impact the lives of those that follow. With June being Youth Month, this year’s theme could not be more relevant,” said MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services Nico de Jager.
Due to the increasing dependancy on plastics, Cllr de Jager says that it is therefore our responsibility to educate youth about the importance of sustainability and the impact of plastic on the environment.
The sustainable growth of the City of Johannesburg is premised on five pillars, namely:
• To grow the economy and to create jobs;
• To enhance quality of life by improving services and taking care of the environment;
• To advance pro-poor development that provides meaningful redress; and
• To build caring, safe and secure communities
• To institute an honest, responsive and productive government.
Pillar Two specifically frames the Environment and Infrastructure Portfolio’s mandate, namely to enhance the quality of life by improving services and taking care of the environment.
“That is why we must ensure that we reduce the consumption of natural resources; reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the impact of climate change and specifically extreme weather events; minimise environmental pollution; and protect the City’s natural environment,” he adds.

After last year’s Environment Day, the City launched the A Re Sebetseng monthly clean-up campaign on 14 August 2017. A Re Sebetseng means let’s work, and is based Rwanda’s monthly clean-up campaign Umuganda, which has proven to be highly successful due to the involvement of government employees. A Re Sebetseng is based on this concept and with Mayor Herman Mashaba at the forefront, the City also launched a monthly employee clean-up on 14 February 2018, where officials clean around their offices.

A Re Sebetseng encourages all residents to assume responsibility for the areas where they live, work and play every day. Since the launch last year, more than 35 000 people have since participated in more than 1300 clean-up events city wide.
Cllr Nico de Jager also said that, “at a municipal level, specifically in the City of Johannesburg, we find that up to 70% of the household waste receptacle comprises of dry recyclables and organic waste (garden waste and food waste), waste that could have been recycled.”
Pikitup introduced the Separation-at-Source Programme in 2009 and although the participation rate is low, Pikitup continues to roll out more recycling programmes.

Through education and awareness programmes, we have seen an increase in participating residents. From 1 July 2018, a phased approach to make Separation-at-Source mandatory will be introduced:
• The public will be notified of Council’s intention to implement Section 22 of the City of Johannesburg Waste Management By-laws. The purpose of this notice is to comply with the section as stated in the Waste Management By-laws, promulgated on 30 July 2013, No 216.
• Pikitup is currently providing the service of source separation of dry recyclables in certain areas and has also developed organic/garden waste drop-off centres (i.e. garden sites) for the purpose of receiving organic garden waste from communities residing within the city.
• For dry recyclables, Pikitup will continue to provide the appropriate bags or receptacles and collect the dry recyclables on a prescribed collection schedule applicable to each area.
• For organic garden waste, it is the duty of the households to separate, store and transport their own organic garden waste and dispose of it at the nearest organic garden waste drop off centre.
• Failure to separate waste at source in the affected suburbs shall henceforth be an offence. Details on the affected suburbs are available at Pikitup depots and on the Pikitup website:
Pikitup has recorded the following figures in 2016/2017:
• 1, 425 million tonnes of waste was landfilled;
• Green waste diverted: 49000 tons;
• Builders rubble: 62000 tones and
• Dry recyclables: 39000 tons.

On this World Environment Day, let’s keep the following in mind: “If you can’t reuse it, then you must refuse it!” Cllr de Jager concludes.

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