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21st Aug 2022

Architect Africa Online

Africa's Leading Architecture Aggregator

Heron IVC: Walking the green talk

Waterfall is closing the loop on waste

Waterfall prioritises sustainability and responsible environmental stewardship as a strategic imperative, keeping the preservation of people and planet at the core of its operating model. To this end, Attacq and the Waterfall Management Company have partnered in innovation that incorporates circular economy methods in their green solutions. A great example of the success of this collaboration is the revolutionary and hardworking Heron IVC (in -vessel composter) machine, a waste management optimisation solution that will reduce waste and landfills in the area.

The Heron IVC, a mechanism that has been in the making for almost two years, is now turning trash into landscaping treasure. The system comprises a large scale, aerobic composting machine that can process up to 80 000kg of food waste per month, ultimately helping responsible citizens fight the great carbon battle while also creating a nutrient-rich fertiliser for gardens, parks and fields.

Commenting on Waterfall’s new initiative, Sustainability Manager at Attacq, Kyra Rautenbach says, “We are incredibly proud to launch our 80- ton IVC composting machine, which will take residents’ and businesses’ food waste that would usually have gone into a landfill and convert it into a pre compost. This initiative forms part of our integrated waste management plan and is a result of In depth research into our tenants’ spaces. Not only did we audit their waste to understand what was being generated, but we also established how and where it’s disposed of once it leaves Waterfall. Insights from this research helped to identify where the real waste opportunities lie and revealed how we can continue to enhance our sustainability principles and practices:


  1. Wheelie bins holding food waste are weighed and the waste is discharged into the unit’s shredder.
  2. Shredded food is automatically added to the composting vessel and Earth Bokashi, a mix of specially developed indigenous South African micro-organisms, is added.
  3. Over the next 14 days, the magic happens. Microbes populate and reproduce beneficial microbes within the composting vessel. These help to break down the waste and turn it into organic compost. Waste with little value, such as waterlogged boxes or egg cartons that are food-contaminated, can also be processed through the composter­ ultimately ensuring that no organic waste ends up at the landfill.
  4. The result? Nutrient-dense compost that can be added to traditional garden compost and used across the landscaped areas in Waterfall.


Proudly manufactured and developed in South Africa, the Heron IVC is low energy and uses mechanical aeration to turn organic waste into compost. It can process between 60 and 80 tons of waste in just one month, consequently reducing the logistical costs and the risk of non-collections of putrescible food waste. It further provides data to help developments such as Waterfall measure the extent of food waste and its environmental impact.

By putting a programme in place to compost food waste, Waterfall aims to radically reduce the methane gases produced in the landfill from food waste. This means, with every 1 000kg of food waste, Waterfall is preventing the formation of 617kg of greenhouse gases.

Currently, the machine services the Mall of Africa restaurants. The Mall has a central waste area where the food waste is sorted and separated. The screening process is critical, as it needs to identify all types of waste, including the biggest offenders, plastic – specifically microplastics, which can go undetected. This waste management solution solidifies the Mall of Africa’s pioneering approach of delivering an engaging retail and lifestyle experience without compromising on responsible environmental practices.

The service will soon be extended to eateries at the other Waterfall shopping centres such as Polofields Crossing and The Wilds Lifestyle Centre – and eventually to all households within the precinct.

Ruan Spies, Sustainability Manager at the Waterfall Management Company adds, “As a smart city, we deploy data to gain insight into how we can best approach waste management. This helps to determine our strategy to tackle various challenges, which is instrumental in how we devise solutions that produce ecological and sustainable benefits that also drive economic and social advantages.

Since the inception of the Heron IVC machine, we have been encouraged by the overwhelming support of the restaurant managers and associated waste management service providers in our community. It is a heartening demonstration of their commitment to being part of a safe, smart, thriving and sustainable Waterfall development: From the time of its launch in November 2021, an impressive 197 tons of Waterfall’s food waste has been processed by the Heron IVC machine.


The average household produces 10 to 30kg of food waste a month, which is why it will be imperative to eventually get residents on board with the food waste composting programme. After all, a small act such as utilising this food waste composting solution can have a massive impact cumulatively.


Essentially this will work much like municipal services for general waste collections, with the designated organic waste bin being picked up once a week. Bins, already containing the microbes, will be provided to kick-start the reaction with the organic waste and induce a fermentation process. Each weekly collection is then simply checked and added to the IVC machine.

Waterfall understands that the success of this ambitious programme rests firmly in the hands of the people who call Waterfall home – whether for business, residential or leisure purposes. By building context and buy-in through regular engagements, information sharing and teach-ins, the city aims to ensure that responsible waste management becomes part and parcel of everyone’s DNA.

This is only one of many initiatives that Attacq and the Waterfall Management Company have implemented to reduce the overall waste and waste emissions footprint in Waterfall. It reflects a conscious effort to create smart, sustainable and inclusive cities of the future.

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