The Durban Landfill Concervanies project reduces emissions of methane, provides safe waste disposal, produces electricity for the local grid and employs workers from the surrounding communities. The project was the first in Africa and is still one of the most successful in the world. The project has also provided assistance to several other countries and cities within and outside Africa.
The Durban Landfill Conservancies project shows the potential well-managed waste systems have for reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). Proper waste collection reduces waste burning that emits black carbon and other toxic pollutants into the atmosphere. Methane emissions from municipal solid waste is responsible for 11% of all manmade methane emissions. According the International Energy Agency landfill gas is typically 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide (CO2). Methane is at least 23, and up to 32, times more powerful that CO2 at atmospheric warming.
In Durban methane is extracted from the landfill and used to run generators that produce electricity for the local grid reducing its impact on the climate and providing a cleaner energy source. To date Durban’s landfills have avoided approximately 2.5 million tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. It has also benefitted local air quality by reducing emissions of Seloxanes, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxide.
The improved landfills have also prevented liquid runoff from polluting groundwater, reduced odour, and prevented the breeding of disease carrying animals like flies and rats. Green areas filled with native plants create buffer zones surround the landfill and some 700,000 trees have been planted.
The Durban Landfill Conservancies project has assisted Botswana, Mozambique, Uganda, Kenya, Mauritius, Iran and Malaysia with landfill operations and landfill gas projects. Durban has contributed to the education and understanding of short term climate pollutant mitigation through its association with C40 cities, 100 sustainable cities, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.