Harare streets are littered with plastic — a problem that worsens near points such as bus termini — where people congregate. The culture of waste separation and proper disposal has not been adopted in Harare at all.
Residents have been urged by environmental organisations to curb their use of plastic as it is a major cause of pollution and a growing health risk throughout the city.
Following the Pomona dump site fire, amid the various finger-pointing, one common identified cause was the lack of waste-awareness by residents.
Efforts have been made to introduce the three-bins litter system, which emphasises separation of waste to ensure plastic, metal and biodegradables are each put in separate bins with distinct colours and labels.
This system has generally not been successful, especially in the central business district where the few bins available are always full to capacity.
They are rarely emptied and their contents are often spilling over, which demotivates pedestrians, and much of their waste ends up in the sewer system or on the pavements.
Despite the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) decommissioning the Pomona dump site, the site is still operational causing fear of another fire outbreak.
The Stratford Community Trust project has been mobilising residents, especially those living around the dump site to desist from using plastic but rather opt to carry their own shopping bags and choose products packaged in degradable material.
Speaking to Harare News, Stratford Trust Director, Niki Hinde, said, “For two years now we have been going to Pomona every single week and we have come face to face with the reality of what is going on there and the scale of the problem . . .
“Expanded polystyrene containers are one of the biggest contributors. We pull them out of drains, we pull them off the roads and when they break down, they are a huge nuisance to clean up, but instead of taking a container to the take away, like Environment Africa suggest, people keep buying expanded polystyrene.”
“One of the big take away companies a few years ago turned to cardboard which was fantastic, but then they reverted to the expanded polystyrene packaging and I have seen their waste in so many, many dump sites.”
Cages have been placed in parts of Harare north to encourage waste separation, but this move has also been hampered by erratic refuse collection which leaves the cages in an undesirable state.
Harare City Council’s environmental committee chairperson councillor, Herbet Gomba, says they are attending to these issues despite lack of resources being a limiting factor.
“Council put out an advert for interested local companies to join forces with them in turning waste to energy.
“Companies have responded and we are going to an adjudication process as required by law to select the suitable partner.
“We are in need of more funding resources for vehicles,” added councillor Gomba.
Others have cashed in on the litter situation and converted the recyclable into money. Helen Davidson now owns a recycling company, where she collects, separates and recycles waste.
She charges $5 a week to collect recyclables from your home, and business is growing. With 75% of household waste being recyclable, it’s exciting to see this niche in the market being successfully occupied.
Contact Helen on 0772 320 246 to have recycling bags supplied, and collected from your property when full. Make Harare green!