The Hidden Cost of NOT Recycling.

The WC Department of Environmental Affairs recently sent Bitou Municipality a notice that we must reduce all types of waste (solid, bulky and recyclable) that goes to PetroSA landfill site in Mossel Bay or we will face a hefty fine and possible litigation. Council has recently approved an initiative to minimize our waste, and also proposed the cleaning up of massive accumulations of illegal dumping sites within the residential areas of all seven wards of Bitou Municipality.

But be aware that the cleaning up of years of illegal dumping sites, educating people to recycle, and sorting recyclables out of household garbage carries a huge cost.  Recent Council reports allocated an additional R6.5m for sorting garbage and removing illegal dumpsites in Bitou. That is over and above the budgeted costs. An indication of just how much we spend on garbage disposal every year is illustrated by the fact that just on unbudgeted plant hire to deal with garbage, an additional R 37m had to be spent last year, but what exactly it was spent on has not been adequately explained to us yet.  A study from Aurecon Consultants on waste minimization showed that 40% of recyclable materials land in household black bags. More than half of the R6.5m above will be spent on taking that 40% out of the garbage stream. The blame for that cannot be laid at the door of the municipality, because it is squarely in each individual’s control how they deal with the garbage they generate in their home.  Because people don’t recycle, we face fines and people now have to be hired to clean up the bulky waste (discarded stoves, timber, surfboards, etc.), and pull recyclables out of our household garbage bags.

Yellow recycle bags are available at no charge from the Community Services office on Flying Cloud St. next to the NG Kerk. Although recycle bins are no longer placed around Plett because of the mess created around them, a recycling service will pick it up from your street the day after your normal garbage pick up.  The “Keep Plett Clean” group, for which I also wear a hat, has worked hard to not only clean up our streets, but educate people about the value of recycling. It’s a mindset that needs to start with our children and be taught in the schools. We thank Allison Bryant and her team for all that they do. Also thanks to Rhian Berning from Renewable Plett for the many programs she is initiating. And other organizations as well who are addressing the problem with helpful initiatives.

But there is much to be done in the home and especially businesses. The current path is simply not sustainable.

So please, all residents of Bitou, do your part and RECYCLE! The cost of NOT recycling is burying us.

Maxine Brett
Plett Ratepayers’ Association