Towards sustainability in municipal solid waste management in South Africa: a survey of challenges and prospects

Oluwatobi Adeleke, Stephen Akinlabi, Tien Chien Jen, Israel Dunmade

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In most developing countries, the huge amount of unmanaged municipal solid wastes and the inefficiency of the current waste management system have resulted in an unprecedented detrimental effect on human health and the quality of the environment. The drive towards sustainability in solid waste management in South Africa has led to the promulgation of several legislations and policies directed towards increased efficiency of solid waste management strategies. However, despite the progress in South Africa’s waste management systems over the years, it still faces several challenges and shortcomings. To achieve sustainable development through the transition from a linear economic model to a circular economy, there is a need to revamp the waste management sector. This study presents a survey of the key physical elements of integrated waste management in South Africa. The study further discusses the challenges, with a major emphasis on the future directions of integrated waste management. Waste management decisions are data-driven decisions. This study identifies the lack of accurate and reliable waste-related data as one of the major factors that impede the fast-track growth towards sustainable waste management in South Africa. A data-mining approach that emphasises intelligent modeling of waste management systems is recommended to support the national waste database, which will aid waste management decisions and optimise waste management facilities and investments. Multi-sector intervention and involvement are required to stimulate sustainable development in waste management in South Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-66
Number of pages14
JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of South Africa
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • South Africa
  • circular economy
  • intelligent modeling
  • sustainability
  • waste management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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