Recycle Namibia Forum advises on recycling hazardous wastes in Namibia
The Recycle Namibia Forum (RNF) has issued a media statement about the recycling of hazardous material in Namibia, with particular emphasis on oil and batteries. John Pallett of the RNF: “The 275,000 vehicles in Namibia, as well as the many ships plying our coastline and anchoring in Walvis Bay, generate literally millions of litres of waste oil.
Additionally, the country accumulates over 1,000 tonnes of dead batteries every year. “RNF stressed that unfortunately many people don’t know how to dispose of old oil and batteries responsibly and then there are those who simply do not care. Pallett, however, said that there are solutions for responsible disposal of these waste items, as significant developments have taken place in Namibia to reduce pollution, and ensure growth of the recycling industry.
He added: “Car batteries last about three years on average, so that amounts to just over 90,000 dead batteries produced in Namibia every year. PowerBat, the Namibian arm of PowerTech in South Africa, is currently the biggest player in this market, and sends about 120 tonnes of waste batteries to SA per quarter. They are destined for Fry’s Metals, a large smelter in Gauteng that pays ~R3/kg for the scrap. This is clearly a win-win: the environment is saved from that much toxic lead and sulphuric acid, and business thrives on the activity, creating employment, improving skills, and building the economy.”
Pallett added that the situation with waste oils was equally encouraging as about 80% of waste oils were recycled, mainly through collection that was done by a few companies. “Wesco, the largest, has an organised system of collection tanks throughout the country, placed at garages and workshops where large quantities are generated. The wastes go through a simple cleaning and filtering process in Walvis Bay that produces Light Furnace Oil, suitable for using in boilers and burners. The sector has developed to the extent that a new power station to be established at Arandis next year will be fired almost entirely by waste oils.”
The Recycle Namibia Forum also talked about possible improvements to the system in order to make it a success story. According to Pallett administrative obstacles drive people to find easier (and environmentally more damaging) solutions. “For example, export of hazardous waste is prohibited unless the authorities in both the sending and receiving countries agree to the movement, and issue permits accordingly. Delays, mistakes, poor communications and unfamiliarity make the system between Namibia and South Africa very inefficient. The Africa Institute, which focuses on the Basel Convention that governs hazardous waste movements worldwide, could help to streamline the administrative systems, and build skills so that the permitting systems work better.”
Pallett added that any person returning a dead car battery to a battery seller should be paid out about N$20, and if it is not offered, you should insist on it. “The more the ‘cash-back’ system is rolled out (prompted by consumer pressure), the better for us all.” Also, waste oil should be disposed of in proper storage facilities set up by Wesco or by the City of Windhoek in the capital. Information on these facilities can be obtained from the CoW’s Pollution Control Inspector, Mr Salatiel Kalimbo, 2902903.
Recycling of hazardous substances is growing, driven by their economic potential and the keen entrepreneurs who have grabbed a business opportunity, and growing awareness. Pallett concluded: “Prevention of pollution requires a two-pronged approach: an incentive for people to dispose of their wastes responsibly, complemented with a legal deterrent that punishes wrong-doers. At the moment this second component is lacking, or at best, ineffective. All the more reason to give full support to the recycling efforts that have been established so far. “