Cutting through the Noise

Cutting through the Noise

A recent flurry of activity by local citizens anxious to get the fires extinguished at the local landfill dump has had several results.

Firstly – and most gratifyingly – the fires at Bontebok Landfill Site are now OUT – and the area is being rehabilitated. Swellendam Municipality is always open to interaction with the public, and has called a public meeting for March 3rd to discuss a waste management plan going forward. So this is hopefully not the end but a whole policy will be developed in which all residents have had a chance to say their pieces and play their parts.

Secondly and less gratifying was a breakdown in communications between this group of earnest citizens and the local politicians. The majority of people were keen to be driven by solutions, and not to be re-active or confrontational . A few others were driven by passion and by anger: their valid point was that nothing seemed to have been done for years and that this situation should never have been allowed to develop.

In every gathering of human beings there will be drivers. There will be people with strongly held views who are prepared to take that extra step. If it was not for those people, women would probably not have the vote, apartheid would still be a thing. ‘Drivers’ are needed to get the action going. The silent majority are often silent because they do not want confrontation and anger – they want results and hope that the drivers will put themselves in the driver’s seat and take the brunt of the resulting ‘fall out.’

On this occasion the impression had been conveyed to the Mayor that many of this diverse collection of people were hostile drivers / activists who were ganging up, plotting and planning. – hence, understandably, his public letter entitled: Waste management, civic action, and the nasty gossipers! (You can read it here )

Sadly the effect of this letter arriving in the public arena was that many level headed people did not want to be associated with this perception, and immediately ceased to interact and contribute to the discussion, thus removing their much needed balance, perspective and ideas,

So. Let’s cut through the noise.

Let’s look at the actual needs and potential answers. If there are recriminations to be made, if there are alleged failures of service providers, if there was a lack of oversight and urgency – these things will all matter in time when it comes to accountability.

But for now, let’s not waste the opportunity we have been offered to inform ourselves and have a respectful and constructive dialogue. at the public meeting.

The Mayor has invited people to submit questions prior to the meeting so that they can be addressed. ( )


MARCH 3RD: PUBLIC MEETING 6 30 Town Hall, Swellendam

If you are planning to attend – you may think that you are coming with brand new ideas and innovative plans … so first, please do acquaint yourself with the current Municipal Plan for Waste Management. (It may not be the most current but it is the only one available. it was compiled in 2016.) You will find a thorough analysis of the situation as it was in 2016.

It is important for us to know that the Municipality created this plan – it exists. And it’s a GOOD ONE! The question hovers in the air as it is 4 years old and the wheels are grinding very slowly – do we need to spend time creating a new Plan? ANSWER: Re-inventing those grinding wheels will get us nowhere. We don’t need a NEW PLAN – But we need to help get those wheels rolling along, and out of the mud in which they seem to have been mired for some time. How can we help as active citizens? Our questions at the Public Meeting should not be focused on apportioning blame and dishing out recriminations, but be focused on helping the Municipality to finally deliver their Integrated Waste Management Plan.

It is available here: 2nd Generation Integrated Waste Management Plan

It is, however 206 pages long!

SO ….here follows an UNOFFICIAL, UNAPPROVED and slightly adapted (the bits in italics are the main adaptations) summarised version for those of you with limited time ….

(Its followed by an even briefer summary so keep on scrolling if you’re really short of time!)


  • Appoint, though a tender process, a recycling company to implement the recycling processes.
  • Contract will include mandatory oversight and ultimate responsibility by Municipality to ensure goals are met and timeline is achieved by  (RECYCLING COMPANY)


  • Identify collection areas that have great potentials for recyclables where the recycling company can expand its operations.
  • Promote (RECYCLING COMPANY) on Municipality website and media platforms.
  • Develop waste tariff incentive for participating in recycling.

  • Municipality provides bin bags to households and businesses.
  • Include use of different bags for recycling and municipal waste in waste by-law.
  • Develop a recycling register of households together with (RECYCLING COMPANY) and link to ratepayers billing database.
  • The incentive will be a rebate that is equivalent to half the cost of, the savings the municipality achieves as a result of reduced transport costs and WMF costs
  • Advertise incentive on website and newspapers
  • Include incentive as part of waste by-law and waste tariff.


  • Ensure that all businesses and industries have a waste management plan.
  • SLM Solid Waste:  develop a waste flow register of all businesses which will include all waste flowing in, processes and products, by-products and waste produced.
  • Identify areas where resources are being wasted and can be used more efficiently through:
  • re-use
  •  the introduction of new technologies
  • selling waste to other businesses who could use the recovered material to produce new products or provide services.
  • Composting of garden greens waste.
  • Establish composting facility at current landfill site that will reduce waste landfilled.


  • Expansion of collection services.
  • Include non-serviced areas in waste collection and disposal vehicle optimisation study and implement recommendations.
  • Service expansion to non-serviced households should increase.
  • Build new collection point infrastructure.
  • Improvement of waste service delivery to those currently receiving waste services.
  • A dedicated solid waste complaints register should be developed to improve maintenance and service delivery.
  • Record keeping of vehicle trips that document time, service points, areas serviced, bags collected etc.


  • Grow the contribution of the waste sector to the green economy.
  • Create jobs in waste sector.
  • Assist recycling company by training illegal waste pickers and providing them with accredited training to be employed at the (RECYCLING COMPANY)
  • Create business opportunities.
  • SLM Solid Waste Department should investigate the possibility of re-using their WWTW sludge by de-listing it and reselling it as fertiliser.
  • SLM Solid Waste should develop a waste flow register of all businesses which will include all waste flowing in, processes and products, by-products and waste produced.


  • Ensure that people are aware of the impact of waste on their health
  • Educate general public about solid waste management
  • Signage promoting clean environments and warning against littering.
  • Annual solid waste pollution and management education campaigns at schools.

   6. BUDGET

  • Ensure sound budgeting and financial management for waste services.
  • Improve management of assets.
  • Replace vehicles older than 7 years every 7 years.
  • Develop an asset register for solid waste plant and equipment.
  • Reduce costs of waste collection services.
  • Conduct a vehicle route optimisation study
  • Implement routes as per findings and recommendations of above mentioned study.
  • Allocate funding for solid waste infrastructure maintenance in budget.
  • Refurbish waste collection infrastructure
  • Maintenance funding for WMFs should be allocated in the budget
  • Maintenance funding for collection infrastructure should be allocated in the budget
  • Provide measures to remediate contaminated land.
  • Complete Rehabilitation of existing WMFs.
  • Completing the closure and rehabilitation process for illegal WMFs
  • Management of solid waste pollution.
  • Training of current solid waste cleaners to deal with spills deemed as obstructive or destructive to the environment and human health and which are a result of solid waste.


  • Establish effective compliance with and enforcement of the Waste Act.
  • Ensure legally and environmental compliance of WMFs.
  • Complete closure and rehabilitation process of illegal WMFs including construction and licensing.
  • Monitor and report of WMFs.
  • Improve enforcement of Waste Act contraventions.
  • Assign dedicated environmental officers.
  • Update waste legislation.
  • Develop a waste policy
  • Develop a waste by-law
  • Complete revision of IWMP.


  • Training should also extend to Solid Waste Management so that they have good comprehension of the entire waste system – collections, treatment, infrastructure, recovery and disposals. The solid waste manager should also be a member of the Institute of Waste Management Southern Africa.
  • Disaster Management Department to include pollution spill events and associated response measures in Disaster Management Plan with input from SLM Solid Waste Department and DEA&DP.
  • Establishment of a communication channel between the general public for reporting pollution incidents.


Please note this article has not been written representing any group of people, but is an independent piece of writing borne out of a genuine desire to find answers to the challenges that Swellendam finds itself confronted by concerning waste management

And a plea not to get sidetracked by the “noise”.

A. Shackley Swellengram 23 / 2 / 20


  1. John Paisley

    Thank you Amanda, for cutting through the noise…and for making it easier for us to grasp and understand. Your efforts are appreciated!

  2. Terrence Roy Andrew

    Thank you Amanda for bringing things to focus. Good things happen when issues are discussed in a calm, supportive manner.

  3. Ms W L van der Harst-de Wet

    Excellent ideas. Now to have them implemented and brought about! Would also suggest, if at all possible, to hire a proper heavy machine compactor (much bigger & more effective than the smaller caterpillars now running). Areas where plastic is being recycled, should contain wire mesh holding the plastic down & prevent plastic escaping into the environment.

  4. Zita du Plessis

    Thank you Amanda for the time, energy and goodwill you bring to this cause Much appreciated


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