Municipal solid waste management systems (MSWMS) comprise of waste generation, segregation at the point of generation, collection, transportation and disposal at the landfill. The municipalities in South Africa were mandated by the constitution of the country to provide a number of basic services including solid waste management to their citizens. A rapid increase in municipal waste volumes is a problem in urban areas resulting in mushrooming illegal dumps.
The aims of this study were to evaluate the municipal solid waste management system implemented by City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality in Mamelodi East, identify the challenges within the system and explain the practice of illegal dumping by residents of Mamelodi East.
This was achieved through a descriptive cross sectional study which was conducted using qualitative data collection methods. The data was collected through interviews with key informants (two municipal officials and one waste removal contractor) and the waste removal process was observed and photographed. The illegal dumps were mapped and photographed and those of high public health concern were identified. A semi structured questionnaire was administered to the residents living closest to identified dump sites.
The analysis revealed that the system implemented by City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality included regular door to door and communal collection of waste from the residents, transportation of collected waste to Hetherley landfill and disposal. About 21 illegal dumps were identified, mapped and photographed, and nine of them were considered to pose health risk to the residents, especially those living closest to them. It was discovered that these residents were not happy with the illegal dump next to their yards and recommend that the sites be used for beneficial purpose.
Shortcomings included a lack of an updated waste management plan; lack of waste minimization strategy including the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle); and lack of public awareness and involvement in waste management issues.
No measures are implemented for prevention of illegal dumping and the only control measure was to clean the dump sites periodically. There is a lack of law enforcement and systems overload.
The researcher concluded that the MSWMS implemented in the community of Mamelodi East was inadequate. It is recommended that the community should be involved at the planning phase and all mentioned shortcomings be addressed. The waste management legislation including policies and by-laws, need to be enforced.