The inaccessibility of general waste disposal sites in Buffalo City Metro, the nearest of which is 30km from East London, has been blamed for the illegal dumping epidemic in the city.
This has spurred on entrepreneurs to form private waste management businesses that offer solutions to the crisis, although at a cost.
Richard Pattern, owner of Waste Management Systems, said: “I have been running a waste disposal depot for 10 years now. It is still a bit informal and a work in progress but we take people’s waste and either transport it to the dump in Berlin, or if possible recycle it.
“While we cannot get rid of medical and hazardous waste, if someone needs help in that regard we can connect them with people who have expertise in that,” he said.
“At the moment we do not have set rates but it is something we are working on. Eventually we will have set prices by the ton or truckload.
“If someone has waste they need to get rid of they phone me and I’ll give them a quote. From there either they can drop it off or I can pick it up,” he said.
Frans Knoesen, owner of SkipAway, said: “I started my business about 14 months ago when I saw that it was too difficult for the normal person to go through the process of legally dumping their waste.
“There are no legal landfills near the area and most people don’t have the vehicles or equipment which would allow them to carry waste 30km to be disposed of at the dump near Berlin.”
“We rent out skips, if someone knows they are going to be cleaning out their house, garage or garden. Or if they are building, they can hire a skip from us. We drop the skip off and when they are done with it we pick it up and dispose of the waste legally.
“Prices vary on the type of waste and where you stay. We don’t handle medical and hazardous material,” he said.
Pattern says he believes one of the reasons there is so much dumping in the BCM area is a lack of information on where and how residents can properly dispose of waste.
At the Berlin landfill site “they charge between R150 and R180 per ton. This doesn’t take into account the money you will also need to spend on things like petrol and [garbage] bags.
“Most people don’t know how the system of disposing at these sorts of landfills works, for example the fact that they first have to collect a ticket elsewhere,” he said.
“That is why people use us. “We act as an easy option for proper waste disposal. We even give them a certificate or note on our letterhead with proof that their waste was disposed of correctly and legally,” Pattern said.
“My drive now is developing this into a full-fledged environmental centre where people can come to discuss and learn about things like composting and recycling.
“For the past three years I have put on the Big Green Expo and given informal talks at schools about recycling, waste management and the environment. I’m always willing to help people learn about these things,” he said.
Both businesses said their biggest challenge with waste disposal was how far away the landfill was.
“30km is a long way to transport waste. It places a strain on vehicles. Even the big municipal trucks which collect trash are not meant to drive that far with full loads,” Pattern said.