DURBAN, South Africa — The Durban Municipal Solid Waste Project consists of a gas collection system at the Mariannhill landfill in Durban that uses some of the recovered gas to generate renewable energy. That energy is then fed to the municipal grid to replace electricity based on fossil fuels.
Implemented by Durban Solid Waste (DSW),the municipal solid waste department of eThekwini Municipality and was the first of its kind registered in Africa under the Clean Development Mechanism.
Before 2004, no landfills in South Africa collected or used the methane that they emitted. Today, the minimum requirements for waste disposal at landfills include gas monitoring in all large, hazardous landfills and the periodic reporting to national authorities if the concentration of the soil gas exceeds one percent.
The Durban Municipal Solid Waste Project was launched in 2004. The electricity produced from the landfill gas is sold to the municipal electricity department. By April 2015, the project had issued about 181,000 carbon credits. Currently the project offers about 3MW of electricity to the municipality.
The Mariannhill landfill was declared a National Conservancy Site in 2004, marking the first time that a landfill has been incorporated into an ecosystem restoration site.
The Mariannhill landfill now works as an important natural corridor for migratory species and is crucial in preserving an indigenous ecosystem and minimizing biodiversity loss in the area. Moreover, nearly 2,000 people have been educated in the landfill’s conservation and waste management principles.
Photo: Landfill Conservancies
This project has a great ecological function. It has improved the air by reducing the amount of landfill gas released into the atmosphere. It does this by substituting grid-generated electricity and reducing the negative effects of coal transport and coal mining. In addition, it also alleviates the danger caused by methane gas concentrations and prevents nearby residents from being exposed to the gas.
The project developed the methodology for greenhouse gas, which is “use or flaring of landfill gas.” This methodology subsequently served as the basis for the UN’s consolidated methodology for “Flaring or Use of Landfill Gas,” which is now used worldwide.
The landfill site has won numerous awards, including the Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment (2008), the Honorary Energy Globe Award for Sustainability (2009) and several conservancy and green energy awards in South Africa. Moreover, this project has been listed on KPMG’s “100 most innovative and inspiring urban infrastructure projects in the world.”
The World Bank Group’s Prototype Carbon Fund will purchase approximately 337,000 carbon credits from the project, which will benefit the local economy. In addition, by increasing the supply of electricity, this project also benefits the development of local business and thus stimulates the local economic growth.
Moreover, the development of landfill electricity also improves local people’s living quality by providing clean air. Therefore, this project enhances the local economy and alleviates the poverty.