KwaZulu-Natal's economic development MEC, Nomusa Dube-Ncube. with Greater Kokstad mayor, councillor Bheki Mtolo, during a tree planting ceremony at the new landfill site on Saturday.

The Greater Kokstad landfill presented a myriad business opportunities "with green economic prospects" for local communities and businesses, KwaZulu-Natal's economic development MEC said on Monday. 

The site was officially opened on Saturday, with MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube among those in attendance. 

She said via a statement on Monday that "the R25 million state-of-the-art Greater Kokstad landfill site marks an important milestone in the department's quest to usher in a new era in the fight against climate change."

Prior to the opening of the site, Dube-Ncube said her department was intent on teaching locals to use the landfill to turn "trash into cash" in a sustainable manner. 

She said there were various opportunities present for innovative businesses in the recycling and waste to energy sector, and that the opportunities should be embraced and harnessed. 

"Waste is business - big business when done in a proper manner that ensures that nothing, literally, goes to waste. In Europe many landfill sites are a source of energy that powers an entire town and village," said Dube-Ncube.

Landfills should not only be places to dump refuse, she said, but should be viewed as centres where green economic activities took place to alleviate poverty and enhance environmental awareness. 

Dube-Ncube planted a tree at the official opening, and said in her speech that the department had focused its efforts on strengthening partnerships around waste management with the waste pickers association, cooperative governance department, and municipalities. 

"These efforts top the priorities of green strategies we have embarked on. We are singling out waste management because it has few impacts on climate change."

She also previously said it was agreed that the department and municipalities would assist waste pickers to have registered businesses.

"Environment and nature conservation in general are another critical avenues for job creation as we confront the challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality created by Covid-19," said Dube-Ncube.