Although I was aware that the pollution caused by landfill couldn't be doing the environment much good, I hadn't realised quite how much the methane from such dumps contribute to global warming.
According to Innocent Sibeko, managing director of waste management company, Exergy Enviro Group, and one of the African Climate Leaders trained by Al Gore's Climate Reality Project, landfill accounts for a shocking 13% of all global methane gas emissions – and worryingly, methane is second only to carbon dioxide in terms of contributing to global warming.
Sibeko dropped his little bombshell during a presentation on possible African solutions to climate change at a recent 'Green Drinks' event in Johannesburg. Hosted by the South African branch of the former US vice president and Nobel Peace Prize winner's green charity, it – rather appropriately - took place in the garden of social and environmental enterprise, Food & Trees for Africa.
But it seems the whole issue of rubbish is an important and apparently underestimated one. The most recent (2012) National Waste Information Baseline Report indicated that, while South Africa generated approximately 108 million tonnes of waste in 2011, a shocking 98 million tonnes went into landfill, with a mere 10% being recycled.
To make matters worse, the Greenhouse Gas Inventory for South Africa, which was published earlier this year, found that total greenhouse gas emissions from landfill had increased by 72% from 2000 to 2010.