groundWork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organization working primarily in Southern Africa in the areas of Climate & Energy Justice, Coal, Environmental Health, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, and Waste. groundWork is the South African member of Health Care Without Harm and Friends of the Earth International.


Power to the wastepickers

26 April 2017 - Pickers gather recyclable materials from rubbish discarded by others. It is a difficult and risky job but an important one. Yet they also suffer discrimination, writes Kamcilla Pillay.

The Department of Environmental Affairs recently handed over 15 trolleys to several waste pickers of Bruntville, in Mooi River. These people, the department said, had in the past converted retail store trolleys into convenient modes of transport to move the collected waste material to a buyback centre with ease.

According to the last study conducted on waste generation in South Africa in 2011, South Africans generated about 108 million tons of waste. This, said the department, was roughly equivalent to the combined weight of 10 million doubledecker buses. "More worrying is the fact that 98 million tons of waste was disposed of at landfill sites. This means that only 10% of all waste generated in South Africa in 2011 was recycled".

Read the full article from the Mercury here.

The asbestos industry is deliberately misleading the public - Petition to the South African government to support the proposal by 12 African countries to amend the Rotterdam Convention at COP8.

Pietermaritzburg, 24 April 2017 - The Rotterdam Convention was specifically created to address the double standard whereby hazardous chemicals and pesticides that are banned or severely restricted in industrialized countries are increasingly being shipped to developing countries and countries with economies in transition, thus populations in the global South are immorally and unjustly exposed to harmful chemicals and pesticides. The Rotterdam Convention seeks to stop this double standard by empowering countries with the right to Prior Informed Consent.

The asbestos industry is deliberately misleading the public. Because the parties of the Rotterdam Convention have not succeeded in listing chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance, industry representatives are publicly misrepresenting the facts by stating that chrysotile is not dangerous for human health.

Read the full memorandum, from civil society organisations and individuals to the Acting Director General, Mr Kgabo Mahoai, Department of International Relations and Cooperation here.

Durban air quality shock

18 April 2017 - Ethekwini residents are in danger of breathing toxic fumes, contracting deadly illnesses and being unable to sue because air quality in the city is allegedly not being monitored, environmentalists have warned.

Bobby Peek of groundWork said many of the city's 14 sophisticated air quality monitoring stations were lying idle.

An undated letter from the Department of Environmental Affairs to the city said Wentworth, Southern Works, New Germany, Ganges, Alverstone, City Hall, Grosvenor, Warwick and Edgewood stations were not working.

Read the full article from the Mercury here.

Statement by groundWork on the political crisis and the environment

11 April 2017 - We, at groundWork, support the growing call for President Jacob Zuma to stand down but recognise that he will not do so unless forced.

Zuma’s sacking of finance ministers Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas leaves the national Treasury open for looting. His proclamation of ‘radical socio-economic transformation’ is akin to an old conjuror attempting to revive a failed illusion. 

We also recognise and applaud the bravery with which Gordhan and Jonas resisted the demands to open up the state coffers to Zuma’s cronies. In particular, they resisted demands for a Treasury blank cheque on the nuclear procurement deal.

Read the full statement here.

A Malodorous Mess

10 April 2017 - Environmentalists are worried the toxic stench emitting from a controversial landfill will simply be transplanted to another community, just moving the problems elsewhere.

On Tuesday, the KwaZuluNatal department of environmental affairs said it was suspending the operating licence for the EnviroServ dumpsite in Shongweni because of the "significant sources of odour" the company has failed to deal with.

Communities surrounding the landfill have blamed the emissions for poor health, including burning eyes and throats, and respiratory problems.

Read the full article from The Times (KZN edition) here.

High cost of polluting foul air from Eskom's coal-fired power stations

8 April 2017 - A total of R33 billion a year. That's the staggering monetised cost of death and disease each year from air pollution emitted by Eskom's fleet of 14 coalfired power stations.

This is according to a first estimate of the health impacts and related social costs of emissions from existing coalfired power stations by Dr Mike Holland, a UK researcher. His assessment, commissioned by groundWork, an environmental lobby group, for its submissions on the Integrated Resource Plan Base Case and the draft Integrated Energy Plan by the Department of Energy, finds that Eskom's coal fleet results in 2 239 attributable deaths a year.

Read the full Saturday Star article here.

Read the full Saturday Weekend Argus (First Edition) article here.

Mines left to pollute the soil

07 April 2017 - Both the industry and officials are responsible for continuing damage to the environment and for huge, unnecessary carbon dioxide emissions.

For more than six years, no large coal mine has been granted closure, meaning the mines cannot be rehabilitated and lie abandoned, leaving a legacy of pollution, according to 19 month data investigation of mine closures.

The country's operating and abandoned coal mines.combined release up to 4.3million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, the mining consulting firm Latona Consulting estimates. That is roughly equal to the consumption of 10million barrels of oil.

Read the full Mail & Guardian article here.

Winning SA’s first climate change court case: What it means for affected communities, industry, government and the people of South Africa

On 8 March 2017, the North Gauteng High Court handed down a landmark ruling in Earthlife Africa Johannesburg’s (ELA) case against the Minister of Environmental Affairs, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), and Thabametsi Power Company (Pty) Limited. Referred to as South Africa’s first climate change litigation, it was the first time that South Africa’s courts were asked to decide such a case. More significant was the court’s key finding:  that ELA was correct in claiming that the Minister should have considered the power station’s climate change impacts before deciding whether to authorise it.

Read the full media advisory here.

Victory in SA’s first climate change court case!

8 March, 2017 - Today the North Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of environmental justice organisation Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA), and referred the appeal against the environmental authorisation for a new coal-fired power station back to the Minister of Environmental Affairs on the basis that its climate change impacts had not properly been considered.

Read the full media advisory here.

Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) Webinar Series - Sustainable Solutions to Health Care Waste Management, an African Perspective

GGHH members in South Africa will be hosting a series of webinars to showcase their work. Join the first of these webinars on 16 March 2017, to learn how members are implementing environmentally sound waste management practices.

See full details here.


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