Bridging the waste technology gap
Under the leadership of the former 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 transport. Within its plan – the "Tshwane Vision 2055 - Remaking South Africa’s Capital City" – is found the Green Economy Strategic Framework for 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 a 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 (see also San Francisco). 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 will extract methane gas at seven landfill sites, and install biodigester facilities to generate biogas from wastewater treatment plants and landfill gas. The biogas will be 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 considering issuing 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. This has allowed Tshwane to outsource recycling centres 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!
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Text by: Martin Jacobson
Last edited: 2017-03-15