With Africa’s municipal solid waste expected to double by 2025, the country’s waste sector is characterised by both threats and opportunities.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report states that 244 million tonnes of municipal solid waste will be produced across Africa within the very near future.

Johan van den Berg, Managing Director at global waste management company Averda South Africa says that unless we prepare now for a future in which substantially more waste will be produced in these growing cities, we could face a monumental crisis.

South Africa’s unique position

Van den Berg notes that South Africa stands out from many of its counterparts because it has the infrastructure able to handle the bulk of the country’s waste.

“Despite this advantage, much more needs to be done to raise waste collection and management to world-class standards,” he adds.

Van den Berg believes public and private sector partnerships should be harnessed to develop solid, scalable plans. “Even in the absence of sufficient budget for capital projects, there is some low-hanging fruit that would deliver tangible benefits.”

Maintaining the momentum on the war against waste

“Clamping down on illegal dumping and ensuring that landfill sites are properly built and managed, for instance, would minimise the risk of disease or contamination. Winning these small battles is crucial to maintaining momentum in the war against the continent’s looming waste crisis which is a crisis that South Africa needs to take seriously.

“Sharing knowledge and best practices can help authorities around the continent avoid pitfalls and implement proven, Africa-relevant strategies,” Van den Berg concludes.