In many areas of South Africa, especially where garbage collection services are weak, the ethic of waste separation and compost generation are lacking. If plastic were removed, it could be sold. The value of compost speaks for itself, especially since the President encouraged people to grow their own vegetables. Unfortunately, garbage is burnt, in the community in the photograph, every two-hundred meters, generating many toxic gases. When plastic burns, it releases at least two Chlorine gases, and these were used in warfare because they can cause lung spasms and death. The picture below left is only one of many pollutant fires lit in one community. The children have not been told of the toxicity of the smog. Their parents do not know that it is military ordnance.
Requests to Government have gone out since 1996 to educate the general public about the value of garbage separation, and to encourage plastic collection depots as small businesses. A businessman in East London offered to send a ten-ton truck to collect plastic from a local depot.
At one stage a lawsuit of millions was threatened due to the burning of one town dump in the Eastern Cape every Friday by an official. The toxic smoke caused many tourists to leave, seriously damaging the incomes of local vendors for a decade or more. The dump was eventually moved without conforming to relevant legislation.
The Recycling industry seems neglected all over, not only in the Third World.
This combination of ignorance and neglect urgently needs to be addressed by all governments, since they have created the consumer society. South African Environment and Tourism officials have said that they are, like many municipalities, underfunded and underpaid at the interface level.
The general public, the schools, all need to be informed that plastic smoke is deadly poisonous.
Thanks to Ken Watson from EAGLE (Environmental Awareness Group for Local Evaluation) for sending us this post