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Biogas technologies to advance municipality sustainability

Enlit Africa digital event will on day three host the SABIA National Biogas Conference 2021.

Advancing Biogas in the Municipal Strategic Roadmap: Pathways to 2030 will look at the opportunities municipalities have to explore technologies such as anaerobic digestion to manage waste and energy generation.

The South African Biogas Association (SABIA) has set a vision that spells out guidelines for the SA Government and policymakers to enable the growth of the biogas sector.

Over the past five years, they have been working with public institutions to encourage the implementation of a standard for the re-use of organic waste, the development of norms and standards for biogas projects and the exclusion of biogas plants from air emissions licence requirements.

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Their next goal is to unlock the full potential of the South African biogas market through the approval and adoption of the SABIA Biogas PES tariff (Payment of Ecosystem Services or Payment for Environmental Services) by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.

Albert Borrello, SABIA secretary-general, pointed out all waste-to-energy projects in South Africa are strictly dependent on the development of waste management legislation and challenged by the capacity of municipalities to implement separate collection and the ability to attract investment to actively divert waste from reaching the landfill.

“Biogas production is not only a source of electricity, but it is the preferred solution for organic waste management, that can allow the reduction of 15% of the greenhouse gas emission of South Africa and create hundreds of thousands of permanent jobs,” said Borrello.

Policy development will go a long way towards establishing municipal biogas projects

Borrello pointed out that the growth of biogas projects in almost all countries in the world has happened through policy development that has supported the use of anaerobic digestion technology for the production of electricity, biomethane and fertiliser to diversity the organic waste from landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions production.

“The environmental policy has allowed investments in the sector and the financial sustainability of anaerobic digestion,” said Borrelli.

The World Biogas Association/C40 report, Global Food Waste Management: an implementation guide for cities, starts off on the premise that solid waste management is one of the key services every city government must provide, but this comes at widely variable service levels, cost and environmental impacts.

“Solid waste generation is also increasing faster than any other environmental pollutant, including CO2. As the world population becomes more urbanised and affluent, the increase of waste generation is putting enormous pressure on local governments, primarily in the rapidly growing cities of Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, China and India.”

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Global food waste management

Divided into seven chapters the report is a point of reference to policymakers, looking at the impact of food waste on the global resources, the experiences of cities trying to segregate collection of food waste and the role of anaerobic digestion in the sustainable management of food waste, amongst other points.

Chapter 7 specifically delves into the policy recommendations. Although there are currently no formal global statistics on food waste collection, it is clear that even with progress in some locations, food waste digestion is still in its infancy and needs to be developed.

The last chapter of the report provides the framework for municipalities to implement better food waste management policies while adjusting to their own circumstances.

Join Borrello and fellow speakers Jason Gifford of SABIA, Silas Mulaudzi of SALGA, Tasneem Mayet of the World Biogas Association and Solomon Noi of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly in Ghana as they discuss ways to introduce sustainability into African cities through effective waste management strategies which make use of biogas technologies. ESI

Enlit Africa is the unifying brand for African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa.
Follow the latest conversation during the digital event from 26-28 October 2021.

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.

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