The Sunday Mail
The level of waste generation worldwide is on the rise.
It is estimated that at least 2,1 billion tonnes of solid waste was generated across the globe last year, compared to 2 billion tonnes previously.
With a rapid population growth and urbanisation, annual waste generation is projected to increase by around 70 percent of the 2016 levels to 3,4 billion tonnes by 2050. While sub-Saharan African countries produce only 5 percent of the global garbage, it is ironic that about 3 percent emanates from products imported from the United States and Europe.
Online sources show that in Zimbabwe, over 70 percent of waste is often disposed of in unregulated dumps or openly set alight. These practices create health, safety and environmental problems.
Experts say waste management has become essential for building sustainable and liveable communities.
Last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched the National Environment Cleaning Day and declared every first Friday of the month a day of cleaning.
The drive has seen various individuals and communities up their game in creating a clean environment through proper waste disposal and recycling mechanisms.
For Gogo Nyasha Masvavanise (67) from Epworth high-density suburb, garbage collection has become her source of living.
She collects recyclable litter from the high density suburbs of Epworth, Mabvuku and Tafara.
Just like the adage; ‘the early bird catches the fattest worm’, Gogo Masvavanise wakes up early in the morning to beat other refuse collectors.
She scavenges through bins and dump sites for empty beer bottles, plastic bags, bottle tops and cardboard.
“This is my daily routine and it is also the same for my other colleagues who survive on picking up recyclable waste.
“We call ourselves ‘the gold collectors’. I do not mind the cold winter mornings that we are now experiencing as I just find something warm to get me going.”
Gogo Masvavanise explains that her job is not easy.
After collecting her ‘treasure’ she then must separate it according to various types.
The material is piled and only taken to a recycling centre, in Mabvuku, in bulk to economise on transport.
The centre, is a joint initiative by Larfarge, Petereco Zim and Delta Cooperation and it is run by other waste collectors though a group – Sheq.
Sheq director Mr Causewell Mudzingwa said the organisation buys the material from waste collectors.
“When people come with their different collections, we put it on a scale and pay them,” he said.
“We pay between three cents and $1 per kilogramme depending of the type of material.
“We also sell some of the collected material to people who do art.”
A local sculptor, who only preferred to be called Rasta is living off the activities of Sheq.
The sculptor collects bottle tops, sells some to the recycling centre and keeps some to make artefacts.
Some of his works are sold at the centre.
“I scavenge for metal bottle closures and make toy cars, baskets and assorted handicrafts,” he said.
“I collect the bottle tops and sell some for a $1 per kg at Mabvuku Recycling Centre then use the proceeds to buy wire, which is an important component of my handicraft.”
The bulk of the material collected at the centre is taken to Waverley Plastics for processing into new products.
Waverley Plastics general manager Mr Gary Thompson said the company purchases and recycles scrap plastic, especially rigid High Density Polyethylene (HDPE).
He said the firm had the capacity to recycle over 4 000 tonnes of plastic per annum.
“Plastic that is collected is chopped, washed, dried, densified, extruded (palletised) and finally packaged,” he said.
“Waverley Plastics then uses it to make a wide variety of products such as agricultural piping, buckets and other containers.
“We purchase much of our plastic from landfill (dump) sites, thereby providing a source of income for hundreds of “waste-pickers” in the local communities.
“Our business model is specifically designed to create a clean environment, widespread training and job creation.”
Environmental Management Agency spokesperson, Ms Amkela Sidange said recycling is one of the recommended waste management practices.
She said there was need for support programmes to promote waste separation in homes.
“It is ideal to encourage residents to separate and recycle household waste at their homes,” said Ms Sidange.
“Successful recycling should be supported by a robust integrated recycling chain, starting from waste recovery and encouraging separation of waste at source.”
Ms Sidange said there is need for concerted efforts in waste management to ensure realisation of a clean environment in line with the drive towards attainment of Vision 2030.