Waste management is a significant issue facing many countries today, and South Africa is no exception. As the population continues to grow, the amount of waste generated increases, resulting in a surge in the number of landfill sites across the country. Unfortunately, these sites are quickly approaching their maximum capacity, and there is an increasing need to find suitable locations for new ones.
To address this challenge, waste-to-energy technology can play a crucial role. The process involves converting waste into energy, usually in the form of electricity or heat. By using this technology, the waste currently being sent to landfills can become a valuable resource that powers homes and businesses.
The Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM) has taken step towards achieving its 10% renewable energy goal by installing a 1MW landfill gas to electricity plant at the Simmer and Jack landfill site in Germiston. This initiative, launched in September 2014, has the capacity to lower the municipality’s electricity procurement from Eskom by 7 GWh per annum.
As someone working in environmental assessment field, I hold the beliefs that implementing waste-to-energy technology in landfill sites in South Africa has several benefits. Firstly, it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, thereby reducing the need for new sites, which is particularly crucial in a country where land is scarce.
Secondly, it generates energy that can power homes and businesses, reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, this energy can be sold to the national grid, creating a new source of revenue for the country.
Thirdly, waste-to-energy technology can help reduce the environmental impact of landfill sites. When waste is deposited in landfills, it decomposes and releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By using waste-to-energy technology, we can capture this methane and use it as a fuel, thus reducing its environmental impact.
Finally, implementing waste-to-energy technology can create new job opportunities in South Africa. The technology requires skilled workers to operate and maintain the facilities, and there is also potential for job creation in waste collection and transportation. In conclusion, waste-to-energy technology is a valuable solution that can help address the waste management challenges in South Africa. By converting waste into energy, it can reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, generate energy, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and create new job opportunities. It is a significant step towards a more sustainable future for the country.
By: Thabelo Malada, Environmental Assessment Practitioner.