What a load of rubbish

Phil Murray went sniffing around the Overstrand recycling depots

On Thursday mornings, Stanfordians hustle to take out rubbish bags. The Municipal truck creaks, roars and beeps its way along the roads of the village gathering black bags. Twenty minutes later it is followed by a nippy bakkie and trailer and a small team of guys who collect the transparent recyclable waste and tie replacement bags to gates, doors and trees. The Overstrand Municipality works alongside two private contractors, who gather, sort and dispatch our recyclable waste, saving us from the tsunami of rubbish that we create each week.

The Walker Bay Recycling in Hermanus is impressive and military in its precision. What I expected to be a filthy reeking depot was tidy and neat, with bales of plastic bottles sorted into colours, newspapers, plastic containers and aluminium tins, and skips of crushed glass, car batteries and other prone, crumpled metal things. There appeared to be a place for everything from the team sorting trash on the conveyor belt, to the pile of broken kitchen appliances. And the sorted recycling is moved along swiftly as there was hardly any noticeable backlog. I challenge a sufferer of OCD to find fault with the clear layout of the place.

Gansbaai has a much smaller operation which was set up by EnviroServ in 2010. A team off 11 people stand in a warehouse and quietly sort through transparent recycling bags. This is where Stanford's recycled waste gets delivered and Johan van Taak,
Overstrand Municipal Waste Manager, assures me that the mountain of rubbish rises and falls with the tourist seasons. The sorters are grateful to be employed for 12 months of the year, and they use the quieter winter months to work through the Christmas and Easter build-up of recycling. The mountain doesn't daunt them at all.

Johan van Taak proudly showed me around Hermanus Walker Bay Recycling and the Gansbaai Depot. The task of handling the recycling is outsourced which Johan feels works the best for everyone. The private enterprise in Hermanus is able to employ 40 people, while Gansbaai employs 11, both more than the Municipality would manage. The job is done efficiently and reliably by companies with proven longevity. Recycling is never going to be a big money spinner for our Municipality, but it is entirely the right thing to do. Rubbish is one of the largest and most pressing problems in the world, and we urgently need to save valuable air space at the landfill sites.

Walker Bay Recycling can handle almost everything, and is open to the public to drop off recyclable waste. A weighbridge and scale are available on arrival so that people can be paid immediately – a great incentive! From used engine oil, and chemical waste like disposable car batteries to office paper which can be shredded on request, recycling depots can handle more and more of our waste. The bales of sorted recycling are then purchased by companies in Cape Town and other regions.

The landfill site and Recycling Depot in Gansbaai serve Stanford, Gansbaai and Pearly Beach. Hermanus rubbish now gets trucked to the Karwyderskraal Landfill Site which has a lifespan of about 55 years. The Gansbaai Landfill has about 19 years left in its lifespan but this can be stretched with an active and enthusiastic recycling partner who extracts all recyclable goods.

Stanford has its own waste Drop-off in the industrial area where garden refuse can be delivered. There are also skips for household hazardous waste, old batteries, fluorescent tubes and light bulbs (both incandescent and energy saver), poison, and corrosives which should be kept out of our black bin bags. Small loads of clean rubble can also be dropped off. Occasionally the Hermanus rubbish trucks will be seen on the R43 as they collect the waste from our drop-off and deliver to Gansbaai.

You can recycle:

  • All paper and cardboard
  • All tins and cans
  • All plastic, including yoghurt pots (the transparent bin bags themselves are recycled, to make more transparent bags);
  • Glass; this is the most detrimental waste to leave in your black bags, as it takes up space in the landfill sites, never disintegrating.
  • Keep these out of landfills and drop off in Stanford, Hermanus, Kleinmond or Gansbaai: E-waste e.g. old computers;
  • Garden refuse (Gansbaai chips garden waste, which they mix with sand and use to compact the landfill layers). Hermanus and Kleinmond garden refuse are chipped and compost is made of it.
  • Used engine oil
  • Scrap metal
  • Old broken appliances like fridges and washing machines

You cannot recycle:

  • Disposable batteries - You can recycle rechargeable batteries. So recharge!
  • Tetrapaks – they are lined with aluminium. So far, there is only one small Tetrapak recycling plant in Germiston but they hope to expand throughout South Africa
  • Pyrex and ceramics – to the landfill they must go
  • Polystyrene – The cost by weight of polystyrene makes it totally unviable so try to reuse your own polystyrene, or avoid buying it

It all comes down to us. Let's make the difference and, reuse, reduce, repurpose and recycle.

Our contribution makes the difference.

Bottles sorted in to colours
The sorting team