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Joburg residents to be forced to recycle as landfill site nears capacity

From 1 July, Joburg residents will be compelled to separate garbage from recyclable material.

Waste pickers are seen in the Robinson Deep landfill site in Johannesburg. The site has a maximum of 3 years left until it reaches capacity.  From 1 July, Johannesburg residents are compelled to separate their garbage from recyclable material in an effort to avoid reaching this point. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – There are warnings from the City of Johannesburg that it's running out of space for rubbish and it risks hitting an ultimate disaster point in six years if nothing is done.

The city is concerned that if drastic measures are not taken, household refuse will have to be transported by train to a landfill site in Mpumalanga and ratepayers will have to shoulder the costs.

From 1 July, Joburg residents will be compelled to separate garbage from recyclable material.

It is a man-made mountain of 88 years of piled up waste.

This is Johannesburg's largest refuse dump, the Robinson Deep landfill site in Turffontein.

The stench of rotten food, the noise of garbage trucks and a cloud of dust fill the air.

WATCH: Joburg's waste woes: Trash v treasure

Pikitup's general manager Mzukisi Tshem says 2,500 tons of rubbish is dumped every day and the site will hit maximum capacity soon.

“Three years of space remaining, particularly relating to this Robinson Deep site at the moment.”

MMC for Environmental Affairs, Nico de Jager, says the only way to avert a crisis is to make household recycling compulsory.

“Behind us we’ve got a mountain of waste. Once upon a time that was a flat piece land. In six years’ time this land will be encroaching on where we live.”

Only 10% of Joburg's waste ends up in recycling plants, the target is to increase that figure to at least 30%.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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