Msunduzi Municipality has slipped a new tax into utility bills without explanation, and residents are furious.Residents saw the “recycling” fee, as it is called officially, of R9,78 for the first time last month and they say no one has explained to them why they have to pay this additional fee when they are already paying the refuse removal charge.“There’s no municipality recycling programme so we can’t be expected to pay the domestic and recycling charge. We wouldn’t be against paying this amount if the municipality actually made an attempt to recycle some of the waste,” said Nonhlanhla Khambule from Pelham.Boughton resident John Deare said when he inquired about the new charge he was told that the decision was taken by council last year and has only now been put into effect.He said he could not understand why this has been done without consultation with ratepayers as he is already paying the domestic refuse charge of R106,97.“I don’t think it is fair to burden ratepayers with additional charges when the municipality cannot manage the waste system efficiently.“I fear that this extra amount will be absorbed into the general account and they will still not get the recycling of waste operating effectively,” he said.Raisethorpe’s Logan Naidoo said the recycling charge seems to be another “exploitation” of ratepayers because Msunduzi wants to meet its monthly revenue collection target.He said the municipality obviously needed to find other ways to increase its revenue to improve its financial situation.Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the recycling tariff is to extend the old “orange bag” programme to separate waste at household level and so to extend the lifespan of the current landfill site. It is also aimed at preparing for a new one.She said the revenue will be used to fund the development of a material recovery facility or integrated waste plant. The plan is to improve and increase separation of the waste in all households.“The separation at source programme is currently in operation in wards 25, 26, parts of wards 35, 36 and 37, and parts of ward 29. Formerly the orange bag, now the clear bag programme, is perfectly suited to provide a source of clean and easily available recyclables. If the recyclables are clean the collectors make more money.”Mafumbatha said the funds are not used to pay collectors as they make their money from the sale of recyclables.She said a portion of the funds will go towards establishing a climate change or waste minimisation and diversion office staffed by suitably qualified personnel.The staff will be responsible for the management of the recyclables collection processes, enforce the relevant by-laws as well as facilitate training and awareness on recycling and waste management.Mafumbatha said the tariff was approved and supposed to have been implemented in July last year but due to delays in the billing system was only implemented in February.She said the recycling tariff can be ring-fenced and monitored so that it goes to the relevant projects.Waste-picker" 'I hope city will train us'Nomthandazo Ndlovu, a waste-picker at the Pietermaritzburg landfill site, said they will welcome an efficient recycling programme if it means they will be trained on recycling and dig for trash at the site.“I think it could help if we get the waste already separated but my fear is that once there is a recycling programme the municipality will hire a service provider to do the recycling and we will not benefit from it even though we are the ones who currently live off recycling and help increase the lifespan of the landfill,” she said. Rejected project a success in DurbanThe Witness has previously reported that Pietermaritzburg man Chris Whyte, the founder and managing director of Use-It — an NGO behind a number of innovative waste beneficiating projects — has won international recognition for a recycling project that Msunduzi rejected.Whyte took his expertise to Durban and the NGO made a substantial difference to Greater Durban’s waste reduction efforts, through the Use-It eThekwini Waste Materials Recovery Industry Development Cluster.In the 2015/16 financial year, more than 11 000 tons of recyclable waste was diverted that saved almost 30 000 square metres of eThekwini Metro’s landfill space.