Municipal Cleaning and Greening Programme launched to tackle illegal dumping

10th November 2023 By: Tasneem Bulbulia - Senior Contributing Editor Online

Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy on November 10 launched the Municipal Cleaning and Greening Programme, which is aimed at clearing 7 251 illegal dumping hotspots in communities across the country.

Speaking at the launch, in the Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality, in the Eastern Cape, she said government was taking steps to improve municipal waste collection, ensure landfill compliance and promote waste recycling.

“Across the country, we are targeting to clean up illegal dump sites in provincial capitals including the City of Cape Town, Sol Plaatjie, Mafikeng, Msunduzi, Polokwane, the City of Joburg, the City of Ekurhuleni, the City of Tshwane, Mogale City, Sedibeng, Mbombela and the City of Mangaung.

"As of September 30, we have cleared 1 299, or 19%, of the sites. I am confident that with the acceleration of the cleaning programme, 100% of the identified hotspots will be cleared by the end of this programme,” Creecy averred.

The Municipal Cleaning and Greening Programme is a partnership with provinces and municipalities that assists in recruiting government’s Public Works employment programme participants and also provides protective clothing, and cleaning materials as well as providing stipends to all participants.

To assist in clearing these 7 251 dump sites, government had created more than 37 000 such work opportunities, Creecy explained.

She said that, in Nelson Mandela Bay, 512 sites had been identified that required cleaning, with work already under way at 41 sites.

“In preparation for this programme, our department had multiple engagements with the municipality. We assisted the municipality to find the budget to purchase a specialised fleet for waste collection; ensured additional refuse collection into the unserviced poor areas; supported improvements to waste disposal facilities and worked with the municipality to clear 41 illegal dumping hotspots,” Creecy highlighted.

She posited that the greater clean-up programme across the Eastern Cape was creating a total of 8 000 work opportunities.

Municipalities where this programme is being implemented include the Buffalo City Metro, Alfred Nzo, OR Tambo, Amathole, Chris Hani, Sarah Baartman and Joe Gqabi district municipalities.

Creecy added that the Municipal Cleaning and Greening initiative included planting trees in the rehabilitated dump sites, both indigenous trees to address water scarcity and fruit trees to facilitate food security.

“Communities are responsible for maintaining the trees within their households. This initiative is supported by assisting communities to understand the environmental and food security role of trees,” she added.

A total of 225 000 trees would be planted by government throughout the country during this financial year, with 3 000 committed for Nelson Mandela Bay. Two thousand of the latter had been planted and the remaining 1 000 would be planted over the next few months, Creecy informed.

“The department fully acknowledges that part of the solution to the problem is to change societal attitudes and behaviour and to mobilise the public to begin taking charge and responsibility for keeping their neighbourhoods clean.

“However, we must also acknowledge that where municipalities have inadequate household waste collection the problem of dumping increases,” she noted.

Creecy said the National Waste Management Strategy guided the approach of all levels of government in improving waste management.

Through the Top 40 programme, government has prioritised 40 municipal landfills for improved compliance through a public-private partnership model currently championed by Infrastructure South Africa.

“Together with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and National Treasury we have revised the Municipal Infrastructure Grant Policy so municipalities can purchase yellow fleet to improve household collection and improve landfill management.

“Since the initiation of this programme, our department has processed applications for the specialised waste management vehicles from over 100 municipalities across the country. In the last two years we have spent over R164-million to buy 44 waste collection vehicles and 21 landfill management waste vehicles for 58 municipalities,” Creecy informed.

She also highlighted a focus on promoting recycling and the development of a circular economy, to reach the target of diverting 45% waste from landfills over five years.

This programme requires collaboration with the private sector on extended producer responsibility and other initiatives.

“The department also takes a prioritised approach where necessary, as is the case with plastic waste. A number of plastic products (plastic packaging – both printed and unprinted) are now regulated under the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations that are meant to ensure the responsible consumption and production,” Creecy added.