Heavy rain over the weekend has caused dunes at a decommissioned landfill site to shift, spilling litter onto the beach at Witsand in Cape Town.
City of Cape Town Mayco Member for Water and Waste Xanthea Limberg said the recent heavy rainfall caused the mobile dunes, which covered the waste, to wash away and expose the litter.
On Friday, Shark Spotters posted on social media that litter from the decommissioned Witsand landfill site was washing into the ocean.
"This is the worst breach of the dump in 20 years, and the effect on marine life will be significant," the organisation said.
More than 700 bags of litter were removed during clean-up operations.
As well as clearing litter, the Shark Spotters team installed nets further up in the dunes to trap the waste and prevent it from moving down to the beach.
City departments are working to manage the landfill breach, said Limberg.
"This includes using excavators and dumpers to assist with stabilising the site by placing the sand to reinstate the dunes as needed where waste has been exposed. A team has been deployed to pick up the waste along the coastline. Also, the City wants to thank the Shark Spotters for their efforts to assist during this time, including coordinating the volunteers from the community to help with litter picking," she said.
The site was placed under a maintenance programme in 2006, said Limberg.
This involves netting to ensure the footprint of the waste is contained and stabilised to manage the shifting dune system, one of the last in the Western Cape, while prioritising protecting the environment, Limberg said.
"The departments are monitoring this matter closely and working as quickly as possible to resolve it," she added.