Solutions for sewage, plastic

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Compiled by Jenny Gon

Local golf course development

The authorisation for the proposed housing development located on the former Grahamstown golf course by DEDEAT in 2013 was contingent on an upgrade of the town’s waste water treatment works (WWTW), to be undertaken by the developer in partnership with the municipality. While, at the time, there was some skepticism as to the need for this large-scale housing development, the upgrading of Grahamstown’s WWTW was seen to be a positive spin-off that would have benefited the whole town. Environmental watchdogs have been ‘watching this space’.

Five years down the line, the developer, LFDGT 2016 (Pty) Ltd, is proposing an additional alternative sewage treatment option, namely the construction of a Lilliput Systems treatment plant to service the residential development on site. Lilliput sewage treatment plants are marketed as “a simple, efficient and cost effective solution to sewage and wastewater treatment”, which can include the recycling of water.

A critical part of implementation of this alternative sewage treatment is whether the treated effluent will be re-used or discharged into the environment – apparently this has yet to be determined. Also critical is that correct protocol is followed with respect to the EIA, and that all legislative requirements are satisfied in terms of waste water management and any spillages that might occur.

The developer has submitted an application for amendment of the conditions relating to the project’s sewage treatment. The environmental consultant, EOH Coastal & Environmental Services, have drafted an amendment report which, as part of the public participation process, is now available for public review and comment until 8 May. A hard copy is available at the Grahamstown Public Library and an electronic copy of the report can be made available upon request to EOH CES (contact 046 622 2364 or 041 585 1715).

Tackling plastic waste

The facts are overwhelming: more plastic has been produced around the world in the last 10 years than during the whole of the 20th Century! Packaging accounts for about 40% of total plastic usage. More than one million bags are used every minute. A plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes. For more info, go to https://plasticoceans.org/the-facts/.

We all know that we should be aspiring to ‘Zero Waste’ or alternatively reducing our usage, re-using plastic waste creatively, or recycling which effectively delays the entry of plastic waste into the system. However, it is quite apparent from the amount of plastic waste seen around town and in our water courses, etc, that plastics are still used without much thought given to their environmental impact.

In an exciting new development, the Grahamstown Plastics Action Group is taking a creative approach to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags in Grahamstown. The Grahamstown Branch of WESSA has formed a new sub-committee to work with this vibrant group in using all methods to make a difference – persuasion, poetry, theatre, enforcement, and more. They are researching success stories from other places and viable cost-effective alternatives. They have recently launched a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Grahamstown-Plastic-Action-Group-121639168691513/. This is a new initiative and if you wish to register your interest, or get involved, please contact S.Mantel@ru.ac.za.

Save those bread tags

On that note: the hugely successful “Bread Tags for Wheelchairs” project of the Polystyrene Packaging Council assists people in need around the country to get wheelchairs from the proceeds of recycling the high-quality plastic bread tags. The purchase of one wheelchair requires ~350 kg of tags – which is a lot! But each one adds to the weight. You can help someone who needs a wheelchair by saving your bread tags and taking them to our local Pick n Pay store. Place them in the clear plastic box supplied for this purpose at the entrance to the clothing section [bread tags only, please!]. Many thanks to all those who are collecting the tags. Fiona Semple is patiently coordinating the project locally and can be contacted at 046 622 3712. More info: www.breadtagsforwheelchairs.co.za

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