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Waste a great energy source for Joburg, conference told

The City of Johannesburg plans to increase the amount of gas it generates from agricultural and municipal waste.

Johannesburg has some of the busiest landfill sites in the country which, if not properly managed, could pose serious environmental and climate change challenges as they produce methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.

Speaking at the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities of Southern Africa conference in Emfuleni in the Vaal on Tuesday October 4, City of Joburg Energy Director Thabo Matlatsi said the world was facing what he termed an “energy trilemma”.

He said an “energy trilemma” emanated from rising population growth, scare resources and economic downturns, all of which had an impact on how life was sustained.

Matlatsi told delegates that through a partnership with the University of Johannesburg, the City had converted some of the waste it generated into clean energy. Clean gas, he said, was now being used to fuel some of the City’s buses.

“Our partnership with UJ is proving a success and we’re now looking at increasing the amount of gas we produce out of landfill sites,” he said.

The City also collects spoilt vegetables and fruit to generate clean energy.

Mahlatsi said the biggest challenge was unsorted waste. He added that the City was looking at innovative ways to sort waste from the source. If the waste was sorted appropriately, it would give engineers more time to generate clean gas, he said.

“We’ll be embarking on a drive to educate residents to manage and sort out their waste,” he said.

Pikitup, the City’s waste management entity, has rolled out an integrated waste management campaign to minimise the waste stream going to landfills. The entity provides residents with recycling bags on a weekly basis. The City generates more than 6 000 tons of waste a day. The figure is rising, putting pressure on the landfill sites. Last year, the city unveiled its first eco- friendly fleet of buses that were converted to use both diesel and compressed natural gas.

City Power Managing Director Sicelo Xulu called on the private sector to assist municipalities to better manage their resources. He said both public and private sectors needed to understand their roles and help improve systems to better serve ratepayers.