With South Africa experiencing ongoing, indiscriminate dumping and littering, acquiring insight into the location of illegal dumping areas, or where littering occurs most, is critical to developing effective waste management strategies.
Results from an SST pilot study to quantify all land-based litter in selected areas across Nelson Mandela Bay have just been made available. The surveys took place in February 2020, March 2021, and July 2021, while the study area was made up of five sites covering over 2,000 km2. By employing unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) imagery to monitor litter loads, our objective was to assess potential change in litter trends over this 17-month period.
An important outcome of the study was that aerial imagery proved to be a highly effective tool in the monitoring of litter over vast areas that are difficult to monitor on foot. The methods and results described could benefit municipalities in planning their waste management strategies. The study also showed that its comparison technique is an easy and inexpensive method to monitor litter loads at scale, and could be replicated across Africa.