Cape Town residents compost 40 tons of organic waste

Cape Town residents taking part in the second phase of the City of Cape Town’s home composting study, have manged to compost 40 tons of household organic waste. This follows on the first phase of the City’s home composting study with 19 households which was concluded in October 2012.

Cape Town compost_kb

According to the City of Cape Town, of the 1,6 million tons of waste directed to the City’s landfills each year, approximately 6% consists of garden and organic waste from households (95 000 tons per annum); while approximately 5% is made up of organic kitchen waste (80 000 tons per annum). This equates to approximately 21 kg per household per month of garden/organic waste and organic kitchen waste which ends up at landfill sites when it could have been re-used.

A total of 644 households from Scottsville, Edgemead, Heathfield, Elfindale and Bongweni and Khwezi in Khayelitsha participated in the second phase of the study which started in March 2013 and is nearing conclusion. Each household has been provided with composting containers and the necessary information on how to use these. They have agreed to provide the City with monthly feedback on the progress of their composting efforts, with the data being recorded in the notebooks that were issued to them.

According to the provisional data analysis, the participating households diverted approximately 40 tons of household organic waste from landfill sites through their composting activities. The City will be gathering additional data over the next couple of months by means of ‘waste characterisations’ – the analysis of the contents of randomly selected participants’ wheelie bins in the project areas in order to gain more insight into what materials are still being sent to landfill sites.

The study of individual households was complemented by a study of communal composting scenarios by partnering with two schools, Kenmere Primary School in Kensington and Protea Park Primary School in Atlantis. Provisional results indicate that Kenmere Primary with its 970 learners collected approximately 1,9 tons of household organic waste for composting. Protea Park Primary with its 600 learners collected approximately 700 kg of household organic waste.

‘The study is being conducted as a result of the overuse of the City’s landfill sites for garden and organic waste which can be composted and re-used. The research is geared towards the City’s goal of being a waste-wise society and our commitment to being a caring and well-run city. Composting has numerous environmental benefits: it reduces water use by up to 70% and reduces erosion and pollution,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg.

When organic material is composted, it acts as a carbon ‘sink’, returning carbon to the soil. Mulching (the placement of organic waste over soil to lock in moisture and improve the soil condition) reduces water use by up to 70%. Compost improves soil’s water-holding capacity, thus reducing water needs and it improves the resistance of plants to drought. Mulches and compost reduce run-off, erosion and pollution, while compost also improves the condition of roses and vegetables in the garden. 

‘The City urges residents to take the initiative to begin their own home-composting system. There are three ways to compost your organic waste: either with a compost heap, a composting container such as the ones that are being used in the City’s study, or an earthworm composting container.  Residents can use a suitable container they have at home or purchase a container specifically designed for this purpose from garden centres, nurseries or hardware stores. Why fill our landfill sites with organic waste when it can be fed to the earthworms in our gardens,’ said Councillor Sonnenberg.

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