When you place your weekly waste out for collection, is it a case of out of sight, out of mind? You may not realise it, but our beautiful town of Knysna is currently grappling with serious waste issues. Not only are residents generating far too much of it, but the general waste management is cause for concern.
The output, collection and disposal of waste is one of the biggest problems faced by urban areas across the world. With the increase of production of ‘forever’ plastics, the scale of the problem is increasing exponentially. The world in literally drowning in waste and unfortunately Knysna is not immune to this trend.
The sobering waste issues faced by Knysna was recently highlighted in Richelle Kohn’s Youtube series Subject Matter. The topic? Recycling in Knysna. And boy oh boy, was it an eye-opener. The video, featuring passionate environmentalist Barbara Hart Bamber from Metelerkamp, was instrumental in raising awareness about the recycling debacle in our town.
A lot of locals really want to do the right thing when it comes to the environment and consider recycling as a good place to start. Many of us may feel quite chuffed with the fact that a lot of our household waste is directed towards the recycling bin every week. But what they do NOT know however, it that Knysna has an extremely limited capacity on what items can and cannot be recycled and the municipality has failed to communicate this to the public. Take newspapers and magazines for example, the majority of people have always considered these items fully recyclable, and essentially, they are, but not in here in Knysna. Because most people are not well enough informed, the recycling plant in Knysna is facing enormous challenges because a large percentage of the item’s placed in the recycling bags by local residents is not recyclable. The staff then needs to sort through the waste which is hugely labour intensive and not cost effective.
The municipality is then required to remove the non-recyclable waste from the facility. Severely compromised budget issues coupled with ineffective waste management has led a mountain of waste spilling out from the recycling plant as the municipality is unable to remove the waste timeously. This has led to an increase in vermin in our town.
Local residents have joined forces in an attempt to tackle these mounting waste issues and sought inspiration from a successful campaign in Plettenberg Bay called Renew Able Plett, “which incentivises, celebrates, supports and trains businesses, the public, community organisations and schools to reduce waste to landfill and create local circular opportunities.”
They have been kind enough to let us take on the name to start our own local campaign called Renew Able Knysna. Whilst the short-term goal of Renew Able Knysna is to sort out the current excess waste issue at the recycling plant, the campaign will, in the long term, seek to educate and encourage locals to limit their waste in the first place. Changing behaviour is critical in the fight to reduce waste.
The Ethos of the campaign follows the principles of REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE and ROT. Landfills are considered the last resort in the waste hierarchy, as they are very bad for the environment, often contaminate water sources and release very powerful greenhouse gases linked to climate change.
The best place to start to minimise waste is to altogether refuse single use plastics in your daily life. By doing so we already decrease the amount of waste that needs to be processed in the first place. It is about being mindful of your individual impact on our planet. Water bottles, straws, coffee cups and plastic shopping bags are the most prevalent single-use plastics in our societies. Surely every person can acquire a water bottle and take that wherever they go? Love coffee? Then you really should get yourself one of those funky reusable coffee mugs and take it with you to your local coffee spot. Straws suck and balloons blow – both are perilous to wildlife. Acquiring a reusable shopping bag is probably the easiest thing to do to on a daily basis to limit plastic in your life.
Poor waste management contributes to environmental degradation, air pollution, and directly affects many ecosystems, including our precious Knysna estuary. The problem of waste is one we all share – it is our social, environmental and ethical responsibility to generate as little waste as possible. We need to “swim upstream on the management of waste to reduce the amount of single-use packaging and other single-use items from entering businesses and homes, educate about good waste sorting for recycling, keep organic waste separate and feed it back into the nutrient cycle.
What to do with NON-Recyclables? Here is a list of places that accept certain items that will be correctly disposed of or up cycled –
♻️NEWSPAPER – Drop off at Knysna Animal Welfare for their kennels and catteries
♻️PLASTIC BOTTLE TOPS & BREAD TAGS- Drop off at Oakhill Tuckshop or Queen Street Surgery for the The sweethearts Foundation
♻️ICE CREAM TUBS & YOGURT CUPS – Drop off at Knysna Education Trust
♻️PRINTER CARTRIDGES & TONERS – Drop off at Ink & Printer
♻️ECO BRICKS – Drop off at Pelican Lodge in Sedgefield or Diepwalle Pre-School or Queen Street Surgery (Speak to Monica) or Burmies’ Cactus World
♻️BATTERIES – Drop off at Pick n Pay Knysna or Woolworths Knysna (Bin at entrance)
♻️MAGAZINES – Drop off Knysna Education Trust
♻️BULBS & FLORESCENT TUBES – Drop off Pick n Pay Knysna or Woolworths Knysna (bin at entrance)
♻️OLD CLOTHES – Drop off Woolworths Knysna at Clothing Bank Bin at Customer Service for gift of the givers
♻️ELECTRONIC WASTE (COMPUTERS, PHONES ETC) – Drop off IT Future in Knysna