Population pressure affects environmental well-being

The population of Windhoek is on the increase as people from rural areas and neighbouring countries come for opportunities in the capital, putting strain on the providers of services like waste removal.
Rent-A Drum, a local recycling company said to the Economist, that the population effect is that more and more waste is generated at household and industrial levels. Currently the company’s major clients are 50% individuals and 50% corporate, although the corporate client’s recycling participation is higher than the individual.
“At Rent-A-Drum we take a proactive principle approach to give the highest priority to eliminate the cause of the problem, rather than treating the symptoms,” Rent-A-Drum Managing Director Gys Louw said.
Rent-A-Drum distributes free clear plastic bags to household across Windhoek. At the moment no shortages is experienced as the bags can be purchased at their offices as well. The biggest challenge faced is that scavengers who opens the bags or throws the content in a bin, spoiling all the recyclable content.
Households can separate their recyclables from general waste and place all their recyclables waste into one clear bag. Rent-A-Drum collects these bags for free on the same day as the City of Windhoek’s scheduled waste collection. “Currently we are very fortunate to have many residents join us in recycling and we issue about 40,000 clear bags per month, free to the public. About 80% of these reaches us,” Louw noted.
The Molok Waste Management system implemented by the company is an innovative waste management system that offers a clean, effective, aesthetically and efficient collection for a variety of waste types and situations. The key to the superior performance of the Molok deep collection system is the vertical, underground design.
Only 40% of the container is visible, while the remaining 60% is underground. This design means more storage capacity within less space, more compaction, fewer collections, fewer odours, and less waste. It is widely used by businesses, body corporates and restaurants.
Since the inception of the Molok system, Rent-A-Drum has installed over 200 Moloks in Namibia and have also made exports to Botswana and South Africa.
“We have a saving of about 50% on the kilometres that we drive in comparison to skips or other waste collection systems. It is economical as it reduces transportation costs because of the high collection capacity, and weighing the waste is easy and accurate when lifting the bag,” he said.
Materials recovery facility (MRF), that processes recyclable materials to sell to manufacturers as raw materials for new products.
It has played an important role in the waste stream, the demand for raw materials, and pollution associated with the manufacturing of new products. The amount of recyclable materials recovered by the MRF can vary widely. The MRF enables Rent-A-Drum to sort and bale huge volumes.
Rent-A-Drum currently operate one full MRF at the Windhoek Branch and Sorting facilities at their Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Oshakati Branches.
The construction of these facilities created various employment opportunities. This has also saved a lot of space at the Landfill sites and helped to ensure that all recyclables currently ending up at landfills are extracted and re-used, and in so doing, deliver lasting solutions to the environmental challenges Namibia will face in the years to come.
About 90% of the recycling product is exported after being sorted and baled. At this stage recycling is optional for any business or individual and is not enforced by any legislation.
“In developed and developing countries with growing population, prosperity and growth, it remains a major challenge for municipalities to collect, recycle, treat and dispose of increasing quantities of solid waste,” Louw concluded.

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