June 5 will once again see the celebration of World Environment Day (WED), which began as far back as 1972.
This event, for all positive intends and environmental outcomes, serves as the culmination of all year round activity on a global scale. It is when industry players, consumers, property owners and politicians as a collective make concerted efforts to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for the environment that they themselves and future generations will be living in.
While WED has become one of the main vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action, it has succeeded in drawing the attention of ordinary communities to their role as responsible consumers on this planet.
Since the number of environmental causes in need of attention are numerous, by focussing on one single issue for specific improvement and action, individuals, families, educational institutions, governments and industry can all serve in the ongoing purpose of WED. As most positive outcomes begin at home, be it building your own home out of straw bales, appointing a reputable builder who will dump building rubble responsibly, prioritising water wise gardens, or reading the Lorax or showing Planet Earth to young children, all efforts will benefit your environment.
And so, all will be abuzz this week if local neighbourhoods organised clean-ups, if the extended families of schools discontinue the use of plastic bags, and if friends could organize a collective tree planting effort during their weekend braai or Sunday lunch. Since the possibilities are endless, awareness campaigns are mobilised to highlight the bigger issues, such as the City of Cape Town’s latest appeal to business and private communities to heed the consequences of illegal dumping, while making every effort to facilitate recycling and minimising landfill capacity.
Hotspots for illegal dumping have been identified, and the City of Cape Town says that approximately R200 million is needed annually to clean up rubbish dumped illegally and inappropriately across the city. Staggering statistics reveal that in the central business district alone approximately half a ton of illegal waste is collected by the Central City Improvement District (CCID) each month.
Not only does the illegal dumping of waste result in crippling expense to the city , it also has severe practical consequences within the inner city such as health and environmental hazards. Chief Operations Officer of CCID Tasso Evangelinos says: “To minimise the environmental and health issues within the Cape Town CBD, we have increased our vigilance in identifying illegal dumpers and will take action against them, whilst working with the City to uphold its litter by-laws. Over the past two months we have already issued R44 000.00 worth of fines for illegal dumping.” The city says that on average the CCID cleansing and maintenance staff manages to rid the city of 60 tons of waste a month, that is transported to a recycling depot in Philippi.
Evangelinos says that in 2011 alone, this team managed to remove more than 1500 tons of waste from the Central City, that included 4.7 tons of waste cleared from 4100 channels, and 22 tons of waste removed from 2700 fresh water drains. The removal of this waste is essential in keeping the drains and channels unblocked and rodent free, and is over and above waste already collected by City services during normal course of business.
To maintain public inner city spaces as attractive and safe to live, work, visit and invest in, the city appeals to business owners, residents and workers to report illegal dumping on
the CCID hotline 083 300 8328.