Urban greening, a key component to sustainable development

What does a sustainable future look like? A net-zero carbon footprint, clean air and water, sustainable food sources, and no waste. While this sound like the ideal scenario for a future sustainable city, this is all attainable with the right urban space design, circular waste management systems and collaboration between businesses and citizens to implement this model.

As many South Africans plant trees this week during Arbor week, BiobiN South Africa talks about the model that local government should be working towards to achieve a more sustainable city:

Circular waste management: “Our waste, when not managed correctly has the potential to have the greatest impact on the environment when it is sent to landfill or pollutes the natural environment,” says Brian Küsel, director of BiobiN South Africa. “Waste technology has evolved extensively over recent years allowing for most waste streams to be repurpose or processed into secondary resources that have economic value. We do this with food and organic waste, which is problematic in landfill, but very beneficial for soil health when processed into compost. This is a great example of circular waste management.”

Greening urban spaces: Bringing indigenous flora into urban spaces should be prioritised in urban design. Urban greening helps regulate the microclimate within cities, improves air quality, assists with flood mitigation during periods of high rainfall, encourages biodiversity through creating microhabitats for other species, and facilitates human health and wellbeing. “City gardens and green spaces are not just aesthetically pleasing, but also have important ecological functions,” says Küsel. “However, as we plant trees and vegetation in our cities, we cannot forget about the soil. To sustain urban greening, we need to conserve soil health. We can do this when we implement a circulate waste management system for food and organic waste to produce compost.”

Sustainable and regenerative food systems: “As food production is both a big environmental and social concern, incorporating food gardens into urban spaces will offer a more accessible food supply to people and local businesses,” says Küsel. “We can see that permaculture is more commonly becoming adopted in development plans for new estates and corporate parks,” says Küsel. Permaculture

Originally derived from the term, ‘permanent agriculture’, permaculture combines principles of sustainable agriculture, ecology, biodiversity management and human involvement. The overall goal is to model a natural functioning ecosystem that supports the environment and the human population. Two key components of a permaculture-based system are indigenous flora and regenerative practices that promote soil health.

“As we head into Arbor week, we encourage all businesses and people to think about how they can green urban spaces, whether it be your corporate park, rooftop of your office building or your restaurant garden,” says Küsel. “Within a close proximity to any urban green space, should be a compost or plant nutrient source. This is a great way to integrate your organic waste management system into your green space.”

BiobiN works closely with the retail sector and shopping malls to process large volumes of food and organic waste from multiple outlets like restaurants and shops. All food and organic waste is processed on-site in composting units, and compost is used in vegetable and flower gardens as an important part of the landscaping programme. “This is a closed-loop circular model for sustainable for organic waste management. You will be compliant with waste regulations and have a consistent source of high-grade compost. We highly encourage more property-owning businesses to get a BiobiN on-site,” adds Küsel.

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