South Africa: Cableway Company Is Taking On a Mountain of Waste

Flowering fynbos, Tylecodon grandiflorus (a crassula), looking North East over False Bay from the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park.
27 February 2020

There is an ongoing battle to keep Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain clear of rubbish.

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC) is actively engaged in recycling the rubbish that accumulates as a result of human activity on the mountain.

Up to 6 000 visitors per day (more than a million per year) are transported up Table Mountain via the cableway, data from the TMACC's 2019 report shows.

"At the cableway, many different types of waste are generated - of which 60% is currently recycled. Recyclable waste includes organic/food waste that is sent to a composting plant and dry recycling (plastic, cardboard, cans, glass and paper)," Wahida Parker, the TMACC's managing director, told News24.

Six tons of food was sold at the TMACC café in 2017 and that resulted in significant waste that needed to be dealt with.

The company uses compostable crockery, cups and cutlery and introduced biodegradable straws at all beverage outlets at the cableway.

The company intends to increase its recycling capacity from 55% to 80%.

"We are certain we can reach our goal to recycle 80% of all waste on Table Mountain within the next two years," said Parker.

She added there was a difference in local and international tourists' attitudes towards waste.

"Local visitors are eco-conscious but probably more water-related, whereas foreign visitors are more waste conscious."

There is also a strategy in place to deal with waste on the mountain when Cape Town experiences its seasonal heavy winds.

"At the cableway, we have a team that is responsible for waste. This includes emptying waste bins in and around our top station buildings. These bins are all fitted with heavy lids preventing waste from blowing out. Waste is also brought down daily to the lower station to prevent large amounts of waste accumulating on top of the mountain during times when the cableway does not operate," said Parker.

The TMACC, which will place more recycling bins at both the upper and lower stations, increased its recycling capacity marginally in 2019.

Parker advised other heritage sites on a strategy to manage waste.

"At the cableway, we have found that sorting our waste in-house works better and we have contracted a company to remove it. Supplier involvement also plays a role, with suppliers either removing their packaging offsite after deliveries or making it more recyclable."


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