Landfill Conference Papers


Exploring the future of our landfills

The recent Landfill 2019 Conference saw experts from across the landfill and alternative waste treatment industries come together to ponder an important question: will landfills be part of our long-term future and if so, how?

Hosted by IWMSA Western Cape, LaWTIGand Gigsa,the Landfill 2019 Conference & Exhibitiontook place on 6 and 7 November 2019 in Cape Town. Themed ‘The death of landfill?’, participants shared their insights on the current state of our landfills and their role in our long-term waste management future.

Speaking on a panel, Leon Grobbelaar,president,IWMSA,stated that South Africa will likely continue to make use of landfills for at least the next 20 years.Professor Linda Godfrey, principal scientist, CSIR, concurred, but questioned instead what percentage of our waste should continue to go to landfill.

The consensus was that, although landfills are here to stay, we need to move away from the prevalent uncontrolled dumps that populate South Africa to engineered landfill sites. Thereafter, consideration can be given as to how to phase out landfills.

Unfortunately, Jan Palm, director, JPCE, says municipalities are bogged down by the costs of landfilling. An engineered landfill with a Class B liner that handles 3000 to 4000 tonnes per month will have a total cost of R250 to R300 per tonne.

When it comes to alternative waste treatment methods, only building rubble crushing is less expensive than landfilling, with a net cost of around R90 per tonne. Composting has a net cost of roughly R800 to R900 per tonne, while recycling source-separated materials costs about R1100 to R1300 per tonne. “The problem is that the alternatives are too expensive because our landfilling is too cheap,” said Palm.

Margot Ladouce, manager: Disposal Solid Waste, City of Cape Town, agreed with Palm’s sentiments, stating that recyclingcosts the City around three times more than the disposal of general waste. There is also currently a global constraint on getting markets to take up certain recyclables such as paper. “It’s a crisis,” she said. 


Extracting value from waste

In his keynote address, geosynthetic, environmental containment and waste disposal expert Boyd Ramsey stressed the vital importance of ending the disposal of materials that still have value or can possibly be reused, even if it is difficult. “The cost of throwing something away is not included in the cost of that thing,” he stressed.

In her presentation titled “Why the diversion of waste from landfill requires improved landfill management”, Godfreypointed out that by targeting just three main municipal solid waste streams, some 60 to 70% of waste (by mass) could be diverted away from landfill towards value recovery, in the process creating much-needed jobs. These streams comprise construction and demolition waste; organic waste; and paper and packaging waste.

According to the last official government statistics (2011), as much as 90% of our waste is still sent to landfill. That equates to at least R17 billion worth of resources being thrown away annually, despite the waste hierarchy being embedded in our waste policy.

“While there’s always an opportunity to go back and mine these disposal sites at a later stage, that doesn’t address the immediate socio-economic and environmental priorities,” said Godfrey. “The cost of remining a landfill site is very expensive. And where this does occur in Europe, for example, the motivation is often the value of the land itself for future developments.”


Public and private

Godfrey argued for a national discussion to determine where the sector is headed, so that everyone can work towards the same goals. “We need to have a healthy discussion on what the role of local government should be.”

Godfrey believes municipalities should focus on residual waste and allow the private sector to handle the rest.Ladouceagreed that it would be beneficial for certain waste streams not to be managed by municipalities and pointed to public-private partnerships (PPPs)as a potential solution.However, Grobbelaar pointed out that there are many challenges to the PPP process.

Panellists also highlighted the dire need to education and awareness campaigns and the creation of an enabling environment to facilitate programmes like household waste separation and recycling.

Godfrey maintained that the sector has the power to mobilise discussions with local and national government. “The question is, what do we need to do as a country and put in place to change the current discussion and the status quo?”

Keynote speaker Boyd Ramsey:


Keynote speaker Linda Godfrey:



L to R: Margot Ladouce, City of Cape Town; Jan Palm, JPCE; Leon Grobbelaar,IWMSA; and Professor Linda Godfrey, CSIR

Recycling Documentary, View: copyright resides with Substance Films and that the clip may not be copied, sold or distributed.

Call back on 30 November and the proceedings will be here

Landfill Presentation & Papers


B Coetzee: Regional vs. Local: For and against

C Cilliers: Comprehending the technical advisory practice note on capping closure

L Moodley: Insufficient Airspace - Please Load Airspace

Sobhee-Beetul and Kalumba: Potential Use Of Plastic Waste Bottles In The Construction Industry To Improve Ground Properties

Novella Haider - Stellenbosch Municipality

B Ramsey (Keynote) - Only the strong survive

L Godfrey (Keynote) - Why the diversion of waste from...

B Coetzee (Keynote) - City of Cape Town

B Kusel - BiobiN

Charl Cilliers, Jones & Wagener

Dr H Roberts - Freestae University of Tech

Dr L Sobhee-Beetul - UCT

G Heron -Earth Probiotic

L Moodley - DSW

M Mohr - ESS

R Emery -JG Afrika

R Nortje - Jones - Wagener

R Pienaar - JPCE

T Seake - DWS

T Sundgren - Global Energy

V Milner - JG Afrika

V Singh - Envitech

A Bowers - JGAfrika

D Nel - Interwaste

L Grobbelaar - DEFF - IWMSA MoU

M MOtaung - Freestate University of Tech

R Nortje2 - Jones - Wagener

S Arendse - DEADP