The City of Metropolitan Municipality Tshwane was established in 2000 through the merger of 13 municipalities, including the executive South African capital Pretoria, which is now only the name of the city center. It is the home to a rapidly growing diverse population of around 3 million people. Under the leadership of the mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa, Tshwane embarked on a progressive course, tackling development issues and integrating sustainability principles. The city started with social programs, expanding basic services such as water, sanitation, and electricity, establishing a food bank for the poorest citizen, building tens of thousands of affordable housing units and rezoning the city to reverse exclusion and marginalisation. And it has continued with environmental projects over the whole field of sustainability, including waste management, renewables, energy efficiency and transports.
Leapfrogging the technology gap
"Tshwane Vision 2055 - Remaking South Africa’s Capital City", published in 2013, is a truly visionary document. In particular, its Green Economy Strategic Framework advances the idea of leapfrogging the development of high-carbon infrastructure systems. Tshwane possesses the highest urbanization rate in South Africa and this is why it has made waste management a priority. In 2010 Tshwane engaged its citizen in a city-wide cleanup effort, as well as in tree planting, recycling campaigns, and environmental education. Since then, the city has worked to transform its waste management system. In 2014-15 it built a material recycling facility, composting plant and construction and demolition waste recycling facility at Kwaggasrand Landfill Site. These three waste streams are estimated to constitute 65% of waste in landfill sites. Similar facilities have been built or are planned for other regions in the city to reach a 50% reduction of waste that is disposed at the landfill sites. These so called buyback centres purchase recyclable waste from local waste collectors, businesses and households in their areas.
Large waste to energy project
In 2015 Tshwane announced a large waste-to-energy project for its landfill sites and wastewater facilities. It extracts methane gas at seven landfill sites, and installs biodigester facilities to generate biogas from wastewater treatment plants and landfill gas. The biogas is used for electricity generation, industrial heating and fueling Tshwane’s buses. The project includes constructing gas fuelling stations for buses at depots. The city is exploring green municipal bonds to finance the project, which is estimated to generate savings for Tshwane. In fact, the city cites financial, as well as environmental challenges as reasons for the project, for which waste has truly become an economic resource, allowing Tshwane to outsource recycling centers and generate income from biogas.
Renewable energy and transports
Tshwane is engaged in several other renewable energy projects, including renovating two coal-fired power plants for use of cleaner fuels, building of a solar energy plant, installing solar power heaters on 16,000 households and constructing South Africa´s first hydroelectric plant. The city has launched a number of energy efficiency projects, including South Africa’s first pervasive municipal green building bylaw, energy efficiency retrofits of municipal buildings, LED street lighting conversion, and procurement of electric vehicles for the municipal fleet. Tshwane is also following in Cape Town´s and Johannesburg´s footsteps in building its own bus rapid transit system, the A Re Yeng, which means Let’s go!
City of Tshwane, Framework for a Green Economy Transition, http://carbonn.org/uploads/tx_carbonndata/a1-tshwane%20enviro%20book-1.pdf
City of Tshwane, Green Buildings By-Law and Development Policy in the City of Tshwane, https://unfccc.int/files/bodies/awg/application/pdf/01_tshwane_south_africa_mercedes_mathebula.pdf
City of Tshwane, City of Tshwane Joins the Green Initiative, http://www.thetshwaneopen.co.za/AboutTshwane/CityManagement/CityDepartments/Agriculture%20and%20Environmental%20Management/COP17%20documents/Renewable%20Energy.pdf
City of Tshwane, “Integrated Waste Management Plan to promote sustainable waste practices”, July 2 2015, http://www.tshwane.gov.za/Pages/Current-News.aspx?Id=90
IOL Independent, Kennedy Mudzuli, “Tshwane to make gas from trash”, February 27 2015, http://beta.iol.co.za/scitech/science/environment/tshwane-to-make-gas-from-trash-1824757
Waste Management World, “Composting & Material Recycling Facility Underway in Tshwane, South Africa”, May 19 2014, http://waste-management-world.com/a/composting-material-recycling-facility-underway-in-tshwane-south-africa
Infrastructure News, Glen Tancott, “Building an integrated city”, May 19 2014, http://www.infrastructurene.ws/2014/05/19/building-an-integrated-city/
carbonn Climate Registry, City Climate Report: City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, http://carbonn.org/data/report/commitments/?tx_datareport_pi1%5Buid%5D=481
Text by: John Manoochehri
Last edited: 2017-03-15