Local civic organizations are up in arms over the decision by the City to award of the new tender for curbside recycling to a contractor operating from Kraaifontein. The Fish Hoek Valley Residents and Ratepayers Association, Simon’s Town Civic,  Noordhoek Environmental Action Group, Kommetjie Residents & Ratepayers Association and GEESE have sent strongly worded letters of objection to the City Manager asking him to facilitate a process between the winning waste contractor in order to include False Bay Recycling in the new contract, scheduled to start in November.

Where is the socio-economic or environmental sense in trucking unsorted dry waste from Kommetjie to Kraaifontein (a distance of aprox 40kms) when there is a competent local recycling company providing much needed employment for locals? 

Background

False Bay Recycling has operated a local recycling and materials recovery business since 1998.  Over the past 4 years False Bay Recycling (FBR) has moved from providing free domestic curbside collection to sections of Simon’s Town and Glencairn, to being the official materials recovery sub-contractor to Waste Control for the residential communities in the Fish Hoek Valley, Glencairn, Simon’s Town, Scarborough, Kommetjie, Ocean View, Masi, Capri & Noordhoek.  In response to the bigger volumes of recyclables, FBR rented a site in Simon’s Town for 18 months while they spent R350 000 upgrading their premises in Lekkerwater Rd, to include a Materials Recovery Facility.  They have invested a further R58 000 in an application for a waste license which is presently with the Minister for signature.

Their current materials recovery contract with the City has created employment for 25 local families and a further 10 at Messrs K & C Waste, situated in Steenberg Industria, to whom the bulk of the sorted materials are delivered.  These employees will loose their jobs should the False Bay Recycling Materials Recovery Facility not be included in the new contract for the far South.  This is a heavy burden for the families involved as well as contributing to the unemployment nightmare in the Far South. 

Grounds for objecting to the new contract which excludes False Bay Recycling

1  Loss of local employment: As mentioned above 35 breadwinners stand to loose their jobs.  In terms of the Tender Conditions, Point 7 on Page 15. Contractor’s staff: All workers/runners and where possible drivers and supervisory staff must be sourced from within the areas being serviced, …. Where more than one suburb is serviced by the same team, the number of persons employed from each suburb must be proportional to the number of service points in that area.   As FBR employs women to separate the recyclables, it is unlikely that they will be eligible for re-employed by the new contractor as runners or that these women would have drivers licenses.  By sub-contracting FBR to do materials recovery, the condition of local employment would be met

It needs to be pointed out that indirect local employment opportunities will also be lost by relocating the recycling to Kraaifontein.  The 10 employees at Messrs K & C Waste are a case in point, but there are likely to be others. 

2 Negative Impact on Local Entrepreneurship

FBR has invested in a considerable sum in developing a local Materials Recovery Facility.  This facility acts as a hub for local commercial and community recycling as well as indirect industries associated with re-use and recycling. However, because of the generally low returns for recyclables, the loss of the contract to sort local domestic recyclables is likely to have a significant negative impact on FBR. It is also a slap in the face for a local entrepreneur responding to nationwide calls for investment in waste reduction and goes against the specific objective of the City‘s  Integrated Waste Management Policy namely:  of enhancing local economic development and sustainable job creation where possible; “ (pg 60 Tender Document)

3  Excessive Carbon Footprint of transporting recyclables to a distant MRF

As, reportedly, the most environmentally progressive City in Africa it is incredible that the City of Cape Town awarded the contract knowing that unsorted recyclables will be transported from the tip of the South Peninsula to the Northern Suburbs.  This decision does not demonstrate a commitment to growing awareness about the need for all sectors to reduce carbon emissions or for sustainable fossil fuel use.  It is only a matter of time before companies will be called on to declare and reduce their Carbon Footprint.  It would be in the winning contractor’s interest to look for a local partner to reduce their carbon footprint and the need for large trucks travelling from one end of CT to another.

4  Unnecessary impact of large trucks or fleet of smaller ones on City Roads.

The road infrastructure of the Far South is severely challenged and the addition of any large trucks or a fleet of smaller ones transporting recyclables that could be sorted locally is irresponsible and an unsustainable use of fossil fuel.

5  Need for buy in from local community to support waste minimization targets

Although it is the stated intention of the City to introduce at source dry/wet collections to all properties, the slow roll out of domestic curbside recycling is attributed to the need for a  phased process ….to introduce a total mind shift from disposal to waste minimization… The local community would be far more motivated to support recycling that directly benefits local entrepreneurs and local employment. 

6  Undermining of Local Responsibility for Environmentally Sustainability. 

By relocating the management of a `lifestyle impact’ such as excessive waste to a distant service provider, the City is missing an opportunity to encourage local understanding and capacity to reduce the negative environmental impacts of our lifestyle choices.  At a local level, communities can be far more responsive because the positives and negatives can be seen at community level. Recycling and the many other challenges will be better addressed with local level involvement rather than a mentality of Mother City will do it for us. 

7 Concern about a monopoly of waste collection and recycling.

There are (unconfirmed) reports that WasteMart and or WastePlan have won most of the contracts for waste collection and recycling across the City.  Is this true?  If so, this would be in breach of the City’s own anti-Monopoly policy and would be to the detriment of healthy competition, entrepreneurship and efficient service provision in the long term. 

Why  include False Bay Recycling in the new tender ?

1 Demonstrated competence    

2 Support for local investment and employment not just for FBR staff but also for formal business partners and entrepreneurs using recycled materials.

3 Grows local resilience ito managing and recycling local dry waste / recyclables.

4 Less big trucks on road transporting waste to distant destinations.

5 Lower carbon footprint as a result of local transport rather than having to transport recyclables to Kraaifontein.

Conclusion:

The inclusion of False Bay Recycling as a sub-contractor in the dry waste component of the new contract would be a win win win for the City, the new contractor and FBR.   The City’s objectives of supporting local entrepreneurship and employment and local buy-in for recycling will be met. The lead waste contractor will not incur an unnecessarily high carbon footprint (and high fossil fuel costs) and will meet the tender conditions of local employment.  FBR will be assured of work for local employees and be able to continue its valued service to the community.

If you support the call for recycling to be a local operation, contact Mr Tseko Magubane of the City of Cape Town Think Twice Campaign (tseko.magubane@capetown.gov.za) and ask him to think again and to reinstate False Bay Recycling as the sub-contractor for recycling. 

Kim Kruyshaar  (16 Sept 2011)- Environmental Advisor to the Fish Hoek Valley Residents  &  Ratepayers Association