Posted on the 23rd August 2018

Reducing the household waste stream and cutting the use of single use plastics (Part 2) – Reducing the volume of waste going to landfill and addressing electronic waste.

In the second article on handy hints to reduce one’s household waste stream we highlight the reduction of the volume of household waste going to landfill, as well as how the problem of electronic waste (E-waste) could be addressed. These issues are particularly pertinent for those living in Hermanus given the total destruction of the waste transfer station and recycling plant during the recent riots. The lessons being learnt at the moment do however apply universally as we all need to consider how we could reduce our ecological footprint.

The destruction of the recycling plant created a situation where recyclable materials and waste now also get taken to the landfill site. It begs the question how quickly an extra cell will have to be added to the landfill site and at what costs. There are several examples of towns and cities rapidly running out of landfill space. 

We reported on the production of Ecobricks in the previous article in this series. We now focus on an alternative approach to reduce the volume of plastic and other waste for those who do not have the patience, time or for that matter strength to produce Ecobricks. 5 litre plastic bottles, or smaller ones, take up a lot of space in landfill. We decided to experiment with filling such a bottle with shredded plastic and other waste in an attempt to reduce the volume and space taken up in our household refuse bags. We see this as our contribution at reducing the volume of our household waste so that it takes up less space in the landfill site. And we started tearing and cutting the waste and compacting it into the bottom of the bottle with a heavy wooden object.

So, what were the contents of our 5 litre bottle? 8 hard plastic pallets in which fruit and vegetables are bought, many polystyrene pallets, 2 two litre plastic bottles, 2 plastic dishwashing gloves, 4 disposable plastic razors, 4 pill sleeves and packets, 3 tooth paste tubes, 5 yoghurt containers, 3 bottle corks and various pieces of plastic and polystyrene picked up along the shoreline. In the end the bottle weighed in at a whopping 600g – see photograph. 

We are happy that the volume and space that these waste products would have taken up in landfill had now been reduced to the size of a 5 litre plastic bottle. Most importantly this effort, together with the continued production of Ecobricks, had made a massive difference to the size of the refuse bag that we put out for collection each week. It is believed that this could make a huge difference to the volume of our waste stream if more people start doing this. Also keep in mind that we have now identified a community development project in Stellenbosch where we will deliver completed Ecobricks. Such bricks can be dropped off with us.

We are now investigating alternative ways of getting glass bottles, tins and electronic waste into sustainable recycling systems. We have identified a company in Cape Town that will collect E-waste from us every two or three months. We are prepared to collect such waste and store it in our garage and storeroom as an interim arrangement. Examples of such electronic waste are old computers and laptops, sound systems, printers, wires and cables, telephones, batteries and TV's. Contact Elaine at 082 455 8402 to arrange for the delivery of such products.

In the next article in this series we will start summarising examples of how one can stop purchasing single use plastic items by replacing it with recyclable plastic free products.

Our 5 litre water bottle filled with non-recyclable household plastics and waste




























The Ecobrick production line is coming on
Examples of household E-waste







LANA (posted: 2018-09-16 11:57:34)
Are you guys still collecting/making Eco bricks?
We are a group of kids(and moms) who are making Eco bricks and encouraging the community to do the same.
Kids will be doing their own small projects but would also
Like to find out about other projects to support.
ELSABE (posted: 2018-08-24 12:12:09)
Well done Anton and Elaine. You are setting a wonderful example. Thank you for the practical advice.