Mariannhill Landfill Site Conservancy, including bio-energy generation
The eThekwini municipality is located on the eastern coastline of South Africa in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The Mariannhill landfill is one of three landfills which service the area, and is part-owned by the eThekwini municipality and Durban Solid Waste (DSW). The site has been active since 1997 and has an integrated waste management approach where waste disposal operations are integrated with landfill rehabilitation during the operational life of the landfill.
The various practices at Mariannhill are referred to as a ‘closed-loop system’ because nothing, or very little, leaves the site. Waste that cannot re-used or recovered for alternative use is landfilled - compacted into cells lined with material to prevent leakage to the surrounding environment. Once a cell is full it is covered and rehabilitated with indigenous plants. The ‘green engineering’ at the landfill has earned the landfill conservancy status from the provincial parks board, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
This is added to with the removal and treatment of leachate, and the utilisation of methane gas produced during the decomposition of the waste material. The treated leachate is re-used on site for pollution reduction and during restoration. The gas is either combusted, in a process known as flaring, or extracted and used to generate electricity. The landfill-gas-to-electricity component at Mariannhill arose subsequent to the World Summit on Sustainable Development which was hosted by South Africa in 2002. During the summit officials from the World Bank’s Prototype Carbon Fund approached DSW regarding the development of a landfill gas utilisation project at Mariannhill. The landfill has since registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project.
The Marianhill landfill, now the Mariannhill Landfill Conservancy (MLC), has combined renewable energy technology with combating climate change and the realisation of carbon-based emission reductions. It has a strong sustainability focus both in the waste management practices used and the green or naturalistic engineering approach to restoration and conservation of the surrounding environment. It is now the best practice model for South African landfill management and design.
Source of funding
Primarily funded through the eThekwini Municipality. Grant donor funding from: The South African Department of Trade and Industry: Critical Infrastructure Programme (CPI) and the South African Department of Minerals and Energy. Loan funding from: French Development Bank.
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