We’re diverting nearly half our waste from landfill

Since launching our environmental programme 12 years ago, we’ve made incredible strides in reducing our impact on the environment, and you’ve helped us without even realising it – simply by separating your trash when you discard it in our bins. During this period, our greenhouse gas emissions have come down 47%, thanks to new ways of generating energy, innovative construction methods and environmentally conscious day-to-day operations.


Waste management is a major part of this programme, and an issue we are tackling right at the source. With the help of our tenants and the on-site sorting that happens at the Waste Recovery and Recycling Centre, we diverted 42% of the waste generated in our neighbourhood last year. That means more than 1,900 tonnes of waste that would normally go to landfill were recycled, and over 800 tonnes of organic waste were turned into compost.

Landfills in the Western Cape are running out of space, and an overflow of waste can lead to the spreading of toxins, leachate and greenhouse gases. We’re proud to be an example of how a neighbourhood can collaborate to create a system of diversion initiatives and convert waste into something useful.

Successful diversion is being done in partnership with our tenants, who are encouraged, firstly, to reduce their waste (we’ve eliminated plastic straws in our neighbourhood), and, secondly, to separate their waste at source. We’ve incentivised them to play an active role in the V&A Waterfront’s waste diversion strategy by not charging them for the collection of their recyclable waste. Food and organic waste that is separated at source is charged only 40% of the handling fee that waste to landfill is charged, giving tenants even more reason to play their part.

We have waste storage areas in every building, meaning waste can be separated immediately to prevent contamination and rejection of otherwise recyclable items. This system, where tenants separate their general waste from dry recyclables, glass, organic waste and cardboard, allows the Waste Recovery and Recycling Centre to be as efficient as possible in sorting, extracting and reducing waste that goes to landfill.

Around 20% of the total waste collected in our precinct is considered food waste, while 10% is garden waste. By transforming this organic waste into compost, we’re able to create a circular ecosystem that in turn nourishes our green spaces. Recyclable waste – which includes everything from restaurants’ aluminium foil and toilet rolls to visitors’ discarded coffee-cup lids – goes through the Centre’s meticulous sorting system before it gets baled  and sent to end markets where it is processed into new raw materials.

“Separating organic waste at source is very important,” says Petro Myburgh, the V&A Waterfront’s Custodial Services Manager. “Separating organics from the waste system increases the quality of organics (and subsequent demand) and has the added benefit of unlocking the quality and quantity of valuable dry recyclables that otherwise would have a lower value due to contamination.”

A recent waste characterisation showed that over 70% of the V&A’s waste to landfill was considered organic. We therefore appointed a Waste Compliance Officer who works closely with tenants to train them in waste management. Since this role was introduced, some tenants have shown a more than 30% improvement in their waste diversion.

Plans are in the pipeline to establish a 3.3 MLD desalination plant on our property. A large portion of the energy needed to run this station will be generated from our planned waste-to-energy pyrolysis plant (a process whereby the chemical composition of waste is changed through thermal decomposition), while the rest will come from additional solar PV panels that will be installed on Victoria Wharf’s rooftop.

Environmental concerns continue to push us to innovate, finding new ways to do business. It’s part of the ethos that drives the V&A Waterfront to be a sustainable neighbourhood that cares about everyone. Thank you for the role you as a visitor play in this journey. Keep separating your trash at source, in our clearly marked bins, as we work together to impact the planet more positively.