Zero organics to landfill ban: How Nutri Humus is growing a greener South Africa

In this post we explain the concept of organic waste, the benefits of organic waste, what we’re doing to create a greener South Africa and the Zero organics to landfill ban.

What is organic waste?

Humus is the dark organic matter in soil, formed by the decomposition of plant and animal matter. Humus is rich in nutrients; it retains moisture, and it supports beneficial microorganisms. These qualities are vital for improving soil health and they are a vital resource to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel-based fertilizers and plant pest controls, which have a detrimental impact on the environment. 

Organic waste can comprise up to a 1/3 or more of the waste generated in modern urban environments. When this organic waste is sent to landfill (or is not responsibly disposed of) it can generate greenhouse gases. It also produces a liquid ooze called leachate. Leachate can contaminate water resources and greenhouse gasses contribute toward climate change. Processing organic waste by means of aerobic composting helps avoid these negative impacts. It even has a beneficial impact on the environment.

How can we make use of organic waste?

Incorporating organic matter back into the soil helps to improve the characteristics that define healthy soils Consequently, this provides healthy growing conditions for plants. Organic matter allows water to infiltrate into soil and it holds moisture in soil for longer. This reduces runoff and soil erosion, and it provides increased storage and long-term availability to plants. Organic matter also helps improve the structure of soil, which in turn improves aeration, and soil health in general.

Increasing the organic matter in the soil is important to support the living component of soils. Microscopic creatures harvest nutrients and energy from organic matter and soil particles. These microorganisms support larger organisms, and so on up through trophic levels, forming a soil food web. Plants and animals are at the apex of this web, and cycling nutrients from plants and animals back into the soil reduces the need for inorganic fertilizers. 

organic waste for composting for Zero organics to landfill

What are the benefits of increasing organic matter in the soil?

Healthy soils (and the organisms that they contain) reduce the need for pesticides and fungicides to produce healthy plants. This helps to avoid environmental damage associated with the manufacture and use of these products. Soils containing humus are also able to store carbon and nutrients and prevent them from leached (stripped out by water passing through the soil). These characteristics support healthy plant growth and food security.

How Nutri Humus is using modern technology to improve composting in South Africa

Nutri Humus is developing and expanding its processing and manufacturing capacity, making use of modern technologies that improve the composting process and the qualities of the compost products. To this end Nutri Humus is developing and expanding a world-class composting facility in Philippi Horticulture (Nutri Humus Philippi). Nutri Humus is also operating a smaller facility nearby (Nutri Humus Stock Rd). This facility has industrial-scale in-vessel and earthworm composting systems. 

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Nutri Humus is introducing new and diverse product lines into the market. These products will be distributed in bulk and as bagged products into the Retail Market. Nutri Humus aims to expand its business-to-business and business-to-customer client base and to grow its existing customer base and distribution channels in the Landscaping and Agricultural markets.

South African Legislation regarding the Zero Waste To Landfill Ban

The Legislation relating to Waste and the Environment gives clear instructions on how to manage waste and who should pay for this.  It places emphasis on the prevention of pollution and avoidance of environmental damage. Waste prevention, reuse, recycling and recovery are mandatory, and waste may only be disposed of in a landfill if it cannot be recycled or recovered. *¹ *²

As of 2023, all food waste with moisture >40% (food preparation waste has an average moisture content of 70%+), sewage sludge, fat trap waste, and infectious animal carcasses are banned from landfill, as well as 50% of garden waste. *³

In the Western Cape, provincial regulations relating to landfills or the ‘Zero organics to landfill ban’ include additional regulations for the landfilling of organic waste, with the goal of diverting 50% of organic waste from landfill by 2022 and 100% of organic waste from landfill by 2027. 

In support of the above, the City of Cape Town is enforcing Section 10 of the Integrated Waste Management By-Law (2009), which requires waste generators to submit Integrated Waste Management Plans (IWMPs) to the City. These IWMPs must describe how waste will be diverted, and place focus on how organic waste will be diverted from landfill.*⁴

References

  1. The National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) 107 of 1998
  2. The National Environmental Management: Waste Act 59 of 2008
  3. The National Norms and Standards for disposal of waste to landfill R 636 
  4. City of Cape Town Integrated Waste Management By-Law (2009)
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