Tag Archives: resource management

Green Goal or Green Wash?

Brenda and I were invited to attend the FIFA World Cup Green Goal exhibition centre in the fan park at the Grande Parade in Cape Town last week. I went along feeling quite skeptical, as one tends to be when large multinationals start boasting about their eco-credentials.  

What I wanted to know was: was FIFA really implementing valuable sustainability programmes that would result in a reduction in carbon emissions and, would they continue after the World Cup had ended, or was this no more than a great big PR exercise?

I was particularly concerned after reading an article in the Engineering News which explained how three initiatives under the ‘Reducing the carbon footprint of major sporting events, FIFA 2010 and the Green Goal’ Project had been launched. The three initiatives were Greener Lighting to World Cup Host Cities, Green Passport and offsetting teams’ emissions. 

I became quite excited when I read that these initiatives received $10million between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Unep and the Department for Environmental Affairs.

Although the three initiatives sounded great, on closer inspection I discovered that it only included twelve billboards being switched to solar power; 60 solar traffic lights and 78 streetlights upgraded to use solar power. It also included offsetting team player’s flights and the handing out of a “green passport” eco information leaflet to football fans. Pretty meagre when you look at the budget they received!

What is also interesting to note was that this year the FIFA family itself and the Local Organising Committee has not made any contributions or committed to offset their emissions. They did however do so at the previous World Cup.

The 2010 World Cup is expected to generate 2,7 million tons of GHG – around eight times the footprint of the 2006 Germany World Cup.  Only 11 of the 32 participating teams have agreed to offset their emissions this year.

The carbon footprint of hosting the World Cup in Cape Town is around 180 000 tonnes of CO2. The determination of the carbon footprint of the event is an essential starting point and it seems that the City of Cape Town, with the Green Goal programme, has implemented some great programmes to reduce this footprint.

 A total of 41 projects have been identified across nine target areas:

  • Energy and climate change
  • Water
  • Integrated Waste Management
  • Transport, mobility and access
  • Landscaping and biodiversity
  • Green building and sustainable lifestyles
  • Responsible tourism
  • Green Goal communications
  • Monitoring, measurement and reporting

One excellent initiative which must be mentioned is the Cape Town Green Map. This interactive map, available on-line and in print, gives a comprehensive list of all things green in the city; green spaces, nature reserves, organic eateries, farmers’ markets, recycling drop-offs, sustainable living projects, eco products and other green choices useful to tourists and locals alike. Visit their website for more information: http://www.capetowngreenmap.co.za/ There are however concerns that once the World Cup is over there will no longer be funding for this excellent project.

Cape Town has also instituted a host of public transport options in and around the city – intercity busses, the first ever public transport from CT International airport, trains and park & ride facilities. However, whilst this is a great initiative it is discouraging that the majority of the transport in the city is only there for the World Cup and will not automatically continue. (The airport shuttle will continue but the inner city distribution services won’t.)

Recycling bins can be seen across the city centre allowing people to separate their wet and dry waste. The dry waste is sent to Athlone where it is sorted for reuse and recycling. Cape Town set a target for 20% of all waste from the World Cup to be recycled or reused. Project 90 has confirmed that this excellent recycling initiative will continue after the World Cup – and let’s hope that 20% will increase.

Another Cape Town initiative is promoting the drinking of tap water (Cape Town’s drinking water meets the highest international standards) and taps have been installed along the fan walk and at the fan fest. Although these will not remain in place after the World Cup they will be used when other events are planned in the city.  Videos promoting Cape Town’s safe tap water have been shown on the big screens at the Fan Fest throughout the tournament. 

Greenpoint stadium was fitted with water saving technologies and collects rain water on the roof . Spring water from table Mountain is being used to irrigate the green spaces around the stadium, which previously ran straight out to sea. This rain water and spring water will also be used to irrigate the nearby golf course instead of potable water.

GreenStaySA is a Green Goal legacy project that works with accommodation sites to become more environmentally friendly. Read more here:  http://www.greenstaysa.org.za/ag3nt/system/index.php

So, in conclusion I was most impressed with the City of Cape Town’s Green Goal programme, but a careful watch must be kept to ensure that these programmes continue now that the World Cup has ended. On the other hand, I am less than impressed with the Greener Lighting to World Cup Host Cities programme. The fact the FIFA is not making any contributions or committing to offset their emissions this year is a deplorable state of affairs.

World Ocean Day

Ocean campaigners around the world will be honouring today, World Ocean Day, with a heavy heart.

The explosion on April 20 on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico is now on track to be one of the worst ecological disasters in history. According to Information is Beautiful,  22,000 cars worth of oil are being deposited into the sea every day. See here for a graphic representation showing how much oil has gushed into the Gulf over the last few months.

The New York Times published an excellent visual map of the spill – press the play button to watch how quickly the oil has spread thoughout the Gulf.

What if the spill happened here in South Africa? To put the disaster into context visit this link , type in your home town to see what size area the oil spill would cover. Here are some aeriel photographs depicting the true scale of the devastation, also from the New York Times.

Secretary-general of the UN Ban Ki-moon said today: “Oceans play a key role in our daily lives. They are integral to sustainable development and an important frontier for research… I urge governments and citizens everywhere to acknowledge the enormous value of the world’s oceans – and do their part in ensuring their health and vitality.”

We echo this statement and urge the world to end its dependence on oil. It is time to move towards a clean energy revolution!  

Pictures from Greenpeace

Waste isn’t ‘waste’ until it’s wasted…

Do you ever cast an eye over your purchases at the end of a grocery shopping trip and wondered how many Rands you’ve spent on consumables and how much on packaging? If you’re not in the habit of recycling, perhaps not. It’s when one is conscious of the need to place recyclable materials into a specific bin/location, that one is aware of the volumes of packaging accompanying the toothpaste, toilet paper, tuckbox contents and toothsome goodies.

If we don’t recycle, we just toss the ‘waste’ into our bin and forget about it. At least, that is, until the day of the week when the ‘good fairies’ come and remove it from outside our gates. At this point, often when we hear the rumble of the waste operator’s truck, we curse mildly at our forgetfulness, and hasten to place our refuse bags out for collection, whence they and their contents disappear into oblivion. Or do they? Are they merely ‘out of sight; out of mind’?

From a study undertaken in 2008, statistics reflected in the DTI’s January 2009 publication ‘Proposed Road Map for the Recycling Industry’ indicate that 29% of Johannesburg’s waste stream – 32% in the case of Ekurhuleni – consists of mainline recyclables – paper, plastics, glass, tins and tyres. These can be reprocessed to make more plastics, glass, tin and rubber products. If we do this, we avoid the manufacture of more materials from virgin resources. This reduces environmental destruction (mining impacts), fuel use and emissions (transportation of raw materials), saves water and energy (significantly reduced in using recycled over virgin materials). Preventing recyclables going to landfills, extends the life of those landfills – which is a saving in our collective pockets. Not only are new landfill sites difficult to find and costly to construct and operate, but no-one’s excited about living next door to them, so they’re situated away from built-up areas. Increasing costs of transport to outlying areas means extra costs to us, the disposers.

So it’s in our own interests to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Considering the additional number of people that could be employed in collecting our recyclables, affording them a living and possibly reducing the need for them to resort to criminal activities to survive, our interests are even better served. And why if the recyclables are not ‘waste’ do we treat them as waste. Old habits die hard, as we know. Consciousness is steadily growing, though, about the usefulness of much of these resources. But we need also as consumers to play a role in consciously seeking out and buying items made from – or incorporating – recycled content. If we don’t support the market for items made from recycled materials, the demand for recyclables will drop.

But how to tell whether an item’s made from recyclables? 10 years ago in Canada fleeces were on offer, bearing the label ‘made from recycled PET’. These were selling like hot cakes, while their ‘virgin’ cousins looked dolefully on. We need signals or labels that indicate the recyclable content of products. Now that consumers are more conscious about how their buying habits potentially impact on the future of their children and grandchildren, the astute manufacturer needs to be shouting from the rooftops ‘MADE FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS’!

What about food ‘waste’? Well, when we’re bemoaning the soaring prices of food, how is it that we buy/prepare more than we can consume? Organic waste (which includes garden waste), according to the same survey of Johannesburg landfills, constitutes between 9% and 20% of the waste stream. This is the waste fraction that rots and goes putrid, belching methane into the atmosphere. At 20 times more heat-trapping a greenhouse gas as CO2, we surely should be doing everything we can to keep this at bay. Composting and vermiculture (worm-‘farming’) are gaining in popularity as means to recycling organic waste. Recycling? Both processes turn the organic waste into food for the soil. This enables us to grow our own plants. And anyone who has plucked a warm, ripe tomato direct from the vine (especially one proudly grown at home) will attest to its superior taste and aroma!

A very worthy indicator that the ‘waste’ was not waste at all.

Sue Bellinger, our Gauteng regional Club coordinator has the privilege of ‘christening’ our blog with her very first post! Sue will be writing regular articles on waste management for us.

© Sue Bellinger, March 2009