News - Cleanest town winners announced

Durban's eThekwini Municipality has been declared the country's cleanest town by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

BaPhalaborwa, in Limpopo was the cleanest local council Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk announced in Pretoria.

Each won R1 million for raising awareness and recognising and encouraging good waste management strategies.

"Issues like waste management, recycling programmes and awareness initiatives are extremely important parts of improving and sustaining our environment," Van Schalkwyk said in a speech prepared for delivery.

They were the nuts and bolts of the Cleanest Town Competition, in which Overstrand (Hermanus) in the Western Cape was first runner-up in the local council category, followed by Naledi (Dewetsdorp and Vryburg) in the Free State.

In the metropolitan council category, Nelson Mandela Metropole (Port Elizabeth) was the first runner-up with Cape Town the second runner-up.

The heart of the campaign was an understanding of what had to be done to ensure the environment was protected, said Van Schalkwyk.

In 2003, it was estimated that 470 million tons of waste a year was produced by South Africa - mostly by the country's mines. The Institute of Waste Management in South Africa also found that individuals produced two kilogrammes of waste a day.

"With a rapidly expanding population, growing levels of waste, and landfill sites approaching capacity, it is clear that the priorities of reducing, re-using and recycling are becoming more urgent for our communities," Van Schalkwyk said.

The department aims to reduce by 70 percent in the next 17 years the amount of "Big 5 Waste" - plastics, cans, paper, glass and tyres - that reaches landfills.

It also intends to have in place plans to minimise and treat the remaining 30 percent.

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