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Langa Residents Turn Trash into Cash with Polyco’s PACKA-CHING Project

In just four days, Langa locals brought 5,2 tonnes of glass,1,9 tonnes of paper,1 tonne of plastic and 295 kilograms of cans to the PACKA-CHING mobile buy-back service in their area and, in exchange, received R 5,403.32.

Spearheaded by Polyco and funded by its members, the PACKA-CHING project is being piloted in Langa and was launched on Monday the 21st of August 2017. Its goal is to divert at least 750 tonnes of packaging waste from landfill by increasing recycling within selected informal settlements and lower-income areas around Cape Town and Johannesburg. At the same time, the initiative’s intention is to uplift the lives of local residents by enabling them to benefit financially.

Mandy Naudé, Chief Executive Officer at Polyco says, “There is a vast amount of visible waste lying around, especially in informal settlements. The large majority of the public is uneducated on the topic of recycling and totally unaware of the opportunities it presents. Much of the waste that we see lying around is packaging material from household products, most of which is recyclable. PACKA-CHING presents an income earning opportunity, whereby everyday South Africans are encouraged to take part in recycling in order to improve their own lives, the community as a whole and the environment in which they live.”

Brooke Kühne, PACKA-CHING Project Co-ordinator, explains: “The PACKA-CHING recycling trailer visits designated areas on specific days of the week to collect recyclable plastic, paper, metal cans and glass that has been collected and separated by community members. In exchange for these materials, they are rewarded with an amount of money determined by the current market price of each material type. The money is loaded onto their Kilorands CardTM (a special debit card) and can be spent at any shop that accepts MasterCard. By incentivising and encouraging community members to recycle and reduce waste pollution, we aim to positively change behaviour and shift the way in which people perceive recyclable packaging, in order to show them that waste has value.”

“Furthermore, we run a community fund in each area where the PACKA-CHING project operates. For every kilogram of recyclable material that is brought in, a fixed amount per kilogram of material type will be allocated to the fund. The accumulated value will be donated to a worthy project within each community, identified by the residents themselves. The intention of the fund is to provide additional incentive for households to recycle and to create a sense of unity and pride within the communities as they work towards a common goal. We would like the entire community to feel the benefits of this initiative and the positive change in behaviour,” adds Kühne.

The launch in Langa comes after weeks of distributing specially designed educational material in the area and visiting primary and high schools to educate learners about the value of and opportunities offered by recycling, as well as to encourage them to take the message home. During these presentations, the children were introduced to the project mascot, PACKA-MAN, who taught them which materials can be recycled and how to separate them correctly. They were also given specially designed age-specific educational booklets and board games to get them excited about recycling. Kühne shares: “By teaching children about recycling at a young age, they are more likely to grow up with this practice as second nature and will also be key influencers in their parents’ decisions to change their behaviour.”

Naudé shares: “We are thrilled that over 8.5 tonnes of waste – that would otherwise have littered Langa or ended up in landfills – was collected in under a week and we can’t wait to see what will be achieved by the end of the year-long pilot project. We are perhaps even more excited about the feedback from the community and seeing first-hand how the project is changing their perceptions of recycling and positively impacting their lives. It is so encouraging to see individuals passing by the PACKA-CHING trailer with huge smiles and items bought using their Kilorands Card™. This project has been made possible by the generosity of our Polyco member organisations – a group of responsible polyolefin packaging producers – and we are incredibly grateful to them for their support.”

Plans are in place to roll the PACKA-CHING project out in Kya Sands and the surrounding communities in Johannesburg early next year.

“When a community is able to realise the potential that recycling holds and just how easy it can be, they will be excited to participate, spread the message and encourage others to get involved too. The more this process continues, the more the project can grow. This, in turn, will result in more recyclable packaging being diverted from landfill and more communities benefitting from this positive change,” concludes Naudé.

For more information about the PACKA-CHING project or to find out how you can be involved, visit our newly launched website at http://www.packaching.co.za. You can also track the progress of the material collections and the community fund through this platform, as well download our educational booklets and board games. For more about Polyco and what we do, go to https://www.polyco.co.za.

Wasting no Time in the Race to Clean up South Africa

As the world’s waste generation surges and landfill availability gets increasingly stretched, a number of South African companies are taking waste reduction to heart.

World Bank figures show that South Africa produces almost 54 500 tons of waste a day, making it the 15th highest producer of waste in the world. It did, however, expect South Africa to fall, relatively, as other countries continued to grow faster.

Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) baseline figures for 2012, the most recent local estimate, indicate that South Africa produces 108 million tons of waste a year, with the Western Cape generating 20% and Gauteng 45%. About 98 million tons go to the country’s 826 landfill sites. With estimates showing that a mere 10% of South Africa’s waste is recycled, there is a lot of room for South African companies to reduce their waste, helping to create a sustainable environment for generations to come.

While municipalities manage household waste, the management of big industrial and commercial waste is the responsibility of the companies that produce it.

Getting rid of waste is a significant industry in South Africa, with DEA estimates indicating R15 billion revenue and almost 30 000 jobs. Achieving the DEA’s target of recycling 20% by 2019 seems increasingly unlikely, particularly given the significant investment this would require by cash-strapped municipalities. One way around this is through public-private partnerships (PPPs), a model that several Western Cape municipalities are implementing. This has the potential to attract R1.3 billion and create 1 600 jobs in the next five years in that province.

“The available figures are not that recent and many are based on estimates, so it is unclear exactly how big South Africa’s waste problem is,” says Heidi Newton-King, Spier’s Director of Sustainability. “But, what we do know is that waste management is a growing problem and companies need to be innovative, investing time and money to play their role in addressing it.”

A waste economy report shows that four projects implemented nationally in 2016 attracted over R1 billion in investment and created 148 jobs in the waste sector.

There are numerous projects, including public-private partnerships, to get waste under control with several companies leading the way in waste management in South Africa.

From June 2016 to May 2017, just 1.75% (5 812 kg) of Spier’s waste – the equivalent to slightly less than 6 bakkie loads was sent to landfill.

“Changing perceptions around waste is critical if we want to find long term solutions,” Newton-King says. “Each section of the business sorts its waste individually, with waste storage and categories differing before it’s taken to the farm’s sorting facility and sorted a second time to make absolutely sure the waste can’t be recycled and to help us identify any new non-recyclable  items in the waste stream.”

Non-recyclable items are mostly multi-film packaging (such as coffee bags and tea sachets) as well as surgical gloves, hair nets and pot scrapers.

In 2007, Spier installed a pioneering centralised wastewater treatment plant, which recycles 100% of its wastewater. The cleaned water is then used to irrigate the garden and grounds and the busiest guest toilets.

Woolworths was South Africa’s first major retailer to begin using recycled beverage, juice and milk bottles. All stores offer reusable fabric bags, plastic hangers, signage, baskets and trolleys that are all made from recycled materials. In new stores, the shelving is produced from recycled materials.

In addition, its food and clothing which would otherwise go to waste, is donated.

SAB’s breweries re-use or recycle almost 90% of general waste. More than 80% of SAB beer is packaged in returnable glass bottles or cans and about 99% of spent grain from its breweries is re-used by farmers for animal feed or for renewable energy.

Waste water is used to produce fertiliser or energy and since 2008 it has cut water use per litre of beer by 28%.

“Technically zero is not about achieving zero waste to landfill as much as it is a whole-systems approach that aims for a change in the way materials flow through our business,” Newton-King says. “Our commitment to the final couple of percent means that we are consistently evaluating our purchasing decisions as new items are brought into the stream all the time.”

“With a driving force of minimising our impact on the environment, we believe staff training and education is critical to change perceptions about why recycling is important and the benefits of doing so both at work and at home,” she concludes.

Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd

South Africa recycles more plastic bottles than it throws away

New statistics from recycling company Petco have revealed that more polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles are being recycled than are sent to landfill, with about 4.7-million bottles recycled every day.

This resulted in 112 000 t of carbon emissions, as well as 461 000 m3 of landfill space, being saved.

Noting that South Africa was winning the battle of recycling plastic bottles, the company said 52% of post-consumer PET plastic bottles, or around 74 000 t, were collected for recycling last year.

This is expected to increase to 54% for 2016.

Meanwhile, Petco said that about 50 000 sustainable employment opportunities have been created, with R275-million having been invested in support of recycling projects.

About R1.2-billion was paid to PET collectors by recyclers with Petco playing a catalytic role by investing R1-billion in infrastructure development.

The organisation further facilitated R3.5-billion of value into the downstream economy.

CEO Cheri Scholtz said the company was delighted that, for the eleventh consecutive year, the post-consumer PET bottle-recycling rate had increased.

“Recycling PET bottles over the last 12 years has saved a total of 651 000 t of carbon [emissions] and avoided using 2.7-million cubic meters of landfill space,” she added.

Source: Engineeringnews

Plans to integrate waste pickers into municipalities – Molewa

Cape Town – The Department of Environmental Affairs is planning to integrate South Africa’s waste pickers into the country’s municipal waste management programme, Minister Edna Molewa said in Parliament on Tuesday.

The country has about 62 147 registered waste pickers who remove recyclable material from landfill sites, she told MPs during a debate on the department’s budget of an estimated R6bn.

This year the department plans to help scale up waste recycling enterprises through a recycling enterprise support programme that would provide the initial capital set-up costs for emerging entrepreneurs.
Plans had also been put in place for the management and disbursement of funds through a Waste Management Bureau that would be fully operational in 2016, Molewa said.

In an effort to stop the dumping of hazardous waste, in the past financial year the department has issued 53 Remediation Orders for contaminated sites, and by the end of May hoped to have finally eradicated a backlog of 341 unlawful municipal landfill sites.

But the department still felt that waste management at municipal level was an issue and hoped that integrating the waste pickers into the municipal system would help.

But DA MP Johni Edwards questioned why South Africa was still creating landfill sites in the first place. She said that Sweden used its waste to produce heat and electricity and had no landfill sites left.

If the department was serious about reducing waste, it should start by banning plastic shopping bags and creating jobs through the manufacture of reusable bags instead.
“Why are we still using plastic bags in supermarkets? Why are we actually paying for something that is so harmful to our environment?”

Source: news24


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PORT ELIZABETH START-UP REVOLUTIONISING E-WASTE DISPOSAL

An Eastern Cape technology start-up company is revolutionising electronic waste disposal and recycling in South Africa through a mobile unit dubbed the “e-shredder,” which will help private and public sector organisations to discard electronic products that have become unwanted, non-working or obsolete.  Once e-waste has been sanitised, the recycled components will be upcycled into consumer goods which in turn will provide job creation in arts and crafts sectors.

eWaste Technologies Africa (eTA), a client of the Seda Nelson Mandela Bay ICT Incubator (SNII) in Port Elizabeth, has a zero-to-landfill policy, which means the company is committed to finding ways for e-waste to be reused, recycled or repurposed.

In South Africa, e-waste makes up 5% to 8% of municipal solid waste.  E-waste is also growing at a rate three times faster than any other waste forms in the country.

“eWaste can be transformed into art. They will create jobs and the money made on these projects will be theirs. The non-profit organisation can make jewellery, clocks, and so much more,” said Enrico Vermaak, eTA Managing Director.

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eWaste Technologies Africa recently repurposed a hard drive shredder into a mobile waste disposal unit. This means it can be transported to a client’s premises where it will provide secure hard drive destruction service.

The company will offer clients enhanced data sanitation services by ensuring that information on devices is rendered completely inaccessible even before the equipment in which it is stored is recycled or disposed of.

“We scrub all hard drives, ensuring our methods are compliant with the South African National Intelligence Agency requirements,” said Vermaak.

“If the information on old IT equipment isn’t sanitised or destroyed properly before disposal or sponsorship, it could cause massive reputational damage to your company.  Just imagine the implications of the unsanitised laptop of your CFO ending up in the hands of a competitor or local media,” he said.

“The mobile ewaste shredder will be taken to a company or individual’s premises to perform physical data destruction on hard drives and solid state drives. A certificate will be issued as proof that the hard drive was destroyed.”

eTA also offers on-site ewaste receptacles and collection services for the disposal of e-waste.

“Until recently very few companies have considered proper data sanitation or destruction as an option.  We have received old PC’s and laptops that were deemed ‘wiped’, and found very sensitive information on them.  Fortunately all devices that we receive are sanitised before further processing.”

Vermaak added that most large corporates buy laptops, desktops and tablets with an OEM Microsoft Operating System license included.  Typically these Operating Systems are upgraded to comply with company licenses.

“When the machine is disposed of or sponsored, the upgraded Operating System must be removed and replaced with the original OEM license. This may only be done with the original CD/DVD that was distributed with the device. As a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher (MRR), we will ensure that all licensing obligations are met for your peace of mind.”

Vermaak explained that the use of ewaste in art was a new project his company was busy with as part of their social responsibility. “It is a pilot project. We will sponsor the ewaste and tools to the community, who in turn make jewellery or office supplies such as business card holders or book holders.”

eWaste Technologies Africa is a member of the e-Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA), the body that oversees industry best practices and the latest recycling techniques.

What to ask for when choosing an IT asset disposal partner:

  • Do you sanitise data before it leaves my site?
  • Do you belong to any or all of the following associations:

o   Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA)

o   The e-Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA)

o   The South African e-Waste Alliance (SAEWA).

o   South African Police Service (SAPS) for a second hand goods license.

    • Do you landfill any of the IT assets?
    • Can you destroy the information at my premises (if legally required)?
    • Are you a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher (MRR)?

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Source: rnews


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Joburg’s mass recycling project crucial as landfills run out of time

JOHANNESBURG’s residents and businesses can no longer continue putting all their rubbish in one bin and expect Pikitup to collect it, take it to a landfill and dump it.

At present, the city generates 1.8-million tonnes of rubbish a year, which is sent to four landfill sites: Marie Louise, Ennerdale, Robinson Deep and Goudkoppies. But at current trends and with 90% of mixed waste going to landfill sites, the city will run out of space in seven years.

Pikitup MD Amanda Nair says it would cost more than R1bn to build a new landfill site, taking into account engineering, lining, drainage and road networks.

It costs the city R600m a year to clean the streets and deal with illegal dumping.

Pikitup, which last week was hit by a violent strike, serves an area of 1,625km² and is responsible for cleaning and sweeping 9,000km of streets in the City of Johannesburg’s seven regions.

An independent refuse removal company has been hired to move the 30,000 tonnes of rubbish that has piled up on the city’s streets because of the industrial action, while management and South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) leaders have agreed to meet on Monday.

Pikitup spokesman Jacky Mashapu said the strike cost R1.25m a day.

In some countries, there is zero waste to landfill because residents separate their rubbish into different streams for recycling or incineration. Even though there is some recycling in SA by informal reclaimers, the country is a long way from the levels of resource reuse in China, says Ms Nair.

For the past few years, Johannesburg has run a separation-at-source pilot project in a few suburbs. From next year, this has to be rolled out across the city, involving co-operation from all stakeholders including Pikitup employees, residents and the informal sector, Ms Nair says.

Waste is a resource around which small businesses can be built and jobs created.

About 18 months ago, Pikitup approved a waste-minimisation plan. It is drafting a resource, recovery and logistics plan, which includes looking at how Pikitup’s infrastructure needs to be adjusted for a different way of handling waste in future. For example, the old garden refuse sites are being adapted to become service centres taking streams of recyclables.

Other collection vehicles and incinerators will be needed.

“Our primary goal is not raising revenue but reducing the amount of waste to landfill,” Ms Nair says. “Our plans will allow other partners to extract economic value from waste.”

But the streets around Pikitup’s Braamfontein head office last week showed signs of a hasty clean-up by Pikitup executives and Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau. Within two hours, their efforts were obliterated as aggrieved Samwu members re-energised their protest by overturning more dustbins.

Ms Nair, who helped sweep the streets, says strikers had not tabled any formal demands.

An interdict was obtained to halt the strike and an ultimatum issued to workers to return to work or risk dismissal.

Efforts to get comment from the union at the weekend failed.

Last year, Ms Nair was suspended over allegations of impropriety in the award of a tender. In February, she was cleared of charges and reinstated as MD.

The utility has announced a R600m turnaround, from a deficit of R432m in 2013 to a surplus of R181m this year. The improved performance stems from a five-year plan to focus on better revenue collection, reduced overtime and improved fleet performance.

Chief financial officer Suren Maharaj says 90% of Pikitup’s revenue was earned from domestic clients and 10% from commercial clients. There is limited room to improve domestic revenue, collected on Pikitup’s behalf by the City of Johannesburg. But by ensuring better service to commercial customers, Pikitup has reduced bad debts and improved collections.

Source: bdlive


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Pikitup’s plan an opportunity not to waste

Joburg generates R4 285 tons of waste a day: soon there’ll be nowhere for it to go, writes Musa Jack.

The City of Joburg is fast running out of landfill space. If residents don’t change the way they handle rubbish, in seven years’ time, there won’t be a place to dispose of such waste.

But it would be naive to confine the challenges of waste disposal to Jozi residents alone, as the city is a beacon of hope not only for ordinary South Africans; it attracts an inflow of people from beyond our shores who are seeking a better life.

These patterns of migration put pressure on the service offerings of the City of Joburg, particularly on the management of waste disposal.

According to the statistics recorded at four landfill sites managed by the city’s waste management company, Pikitup, Joburg generates about 4 285 tons of waste daily.

Close to 90 percent of this mixed waste ends up being disposed of at these landfill sites.

Disposing of waste at landfills isn’t the only option. In fact, it isn’t the preferred option, because waste isn’t rubbish, but a resource.

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The waste being generated by households, businesses and industries is valuable material that can be re-used, recycled or recovered in one form or another.

Pikitup has developed plans to ensure a radical transformation in the manner in which waste is perceived by those who generate it.

This transformation offers ways of managing how domestic waste (paper, glass, plastic, cans, garden waste, food waste, e-waste and builders’ rubble) is handled.

The interventions articulated in the plan include the promotion of recycling, processing garden waste to make compost, using food waste to generate biogas, recycling construction material, and using residual waste to generate electricity which, in the future, will be critical in contributing to the power challenges being experienced countrywide.

This further emphasises the point that domestic waste is a resource that can be re-used or recovered for use as an alternative by-product.

Some of the interventions require changing consumer behaviour towards waste; a behaviour that requires a revolutionary mindset that embraces an attitude that business as usual is irresponsible, particularly towards the well-being of future generations.

The path that Pikitup and the city are embarking on in terms of a transformed relationship with waste will be a fruitless journey without the citizens of Joburg coming on board and viewing themselves as partners.

Two of the areas residents need to take responsibility for are littering and illegal dumping.

We need to move to a point where throwing a piece of paper or a cigarette butt on the ground and, certainly, dumping illegally in open spaces is frowned upon because this questions the extent to which we, as citizens, take pride in our beautiful city.

Most people don’t realise waste is linked to climate change.

The manufacture, distribution and use of products as well as the management of the resulting waste all use energy that results in greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide and contributes to climate change.

Separation at Source, a recycling programme, has been rolled out by Pikitup in selected parts of Joburg.

In the course of this year and next, the plan is to give all the city’s suburbs an opportunity to separate their recyclable waste at their homes.

Pikitup does acknowledge that, in this regard, it has a responsibility to make it convenient for citizens to recycle and also to help them understand why they should recycle.

In collaboration with communities through its Jozi@Work programme and private sector players, Pikitup aims to continue rolling out the necessary infrastructure to make it easy for residents to join the recycling crusade.

Still, all the infrastructure in the world will be pointless unless the households, businesses and schools of Joburg make a conscious decision to change their behaviour towards waste.

Embracing responsible waste management practices, as our collective responsibility, will contribute tremendously to enabling Joburg to foster its world-class African city status.

It will also help us to achieve the target of diverting 93 percent of waste from landfills by the year 2040 in line with our plan to minimise waste.

Source: iol


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Start recycling paper

With the global paper consumption set to rise from the current 400 million tonnes in the next five years, there is no better time to start recycling.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), paper consumption will grow to between 450 million and 500 million tonnes by 2020.

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The amount of paper being recycled in South Africa has increased by over a third in the past decade and is expected to reach 63% by 2017, according to statistics released by the Paper Recycling Association of South Africa.

Businesses and organisations can make a significant difference to the environment by simply recycling documents and printing or packaging materials, says Dorota Boltman-Malone, divisional director of a local paper collection and recycling service.

“Paper documents can be recycled up to seven times for reconstitution before the ­fibre becomes too short, meaning that a collective effort by South African businesses to recycle can have substantial effects in reducing the amount of natural resources needed for production of new daily used materials and goods,” she says.

The 2014 Metrofile Information and Records Management Trends Index found that 26% of local organisations do not practice or promote paper recycling initiatives.

Organisations that do not have in-house recycling stations can approach recycling service providers to implement these practices, Boltman-Malone says.

She adds that industrialised paper wastage use up unnecessary landfill which accounts in total for about 35% of global municipal landfill space.

“As a result, South African businesses must realise the vast environmental and business benefits of recycling, as paper consumption shows no signs of decreasing anytime soon.”

Unwanted paper documents, magazines, books, newspapers and cardboard boxes are all ideal for recycling, she says.

Once materials are gathered in recycling stations, stock is collected and processed into different grades, thereafter used as a secondary fibre during the production of new tissue paper and packaging materials.

“No matter how big an organisation is, everyone uses paper materials and this means that there is an opportunity to make a difference in trying to save the environment for the generations to come. Paper that has been used, is not a waste any longer, if recycled it becomes a resource,” she says

Source: News 24


 

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Waste management headache

DELAYS in the re-opening of the R2-million refurbished Kragga Kamma transfer station are causing problems for residents in the area.Ward 9 DA councillor Heinrich Muller said that illegal dumping has dramatically increased, making the area a health and safety hazard.According to Muller, strikes in the steel industry, rain and bad weather were some of the reasons for the delays in construction, while delays to the opening were due to the municipality awaiting approval from the Department of Environmental Affairs.

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“It has been a headache since the closure as people need to travel much further to have access to a transfer site. Unfortunately illegal dumping has increased dramatically, not only in my ward, but also the surrounding wards,” Muller said.

 A community member who wished to remain anonymous said he had suffered financially because of the closed refuse station. “I have to travel to other areas to dispose of my rubbish every week. This is financially crippling considering the petrol price today. I’ve seen people and businesses illegally dumping trash. If the municipality doesn’t do anything soon, this area will be filthy,” he said.

In June 2012 the municipality was reprimanded by the provincial Department of Economic Affairs, Environment and Tourism for poor management of the Kragga Kamma waste site.

This led to the then public health director, Dr Mamisa Chabula-Nxiweni, requesting the site be closed while it was upgraded to comply with the waste licence conditions.

The municipality (according to local news reports) was allocated only R6-million for waste management in the whole metro in the draft 2012/13 budget, while R132-million was needed.

Municipal spokesman Roland Williams said the situation had improved as the council had provided funding for the purchase of trucks to be used in increasing the frequency of collection in low-income areas over a three-year period.

The waste management operating budget for the 2014/15 financial year had drastically improved to R423-million, with R1,5-million of that set aside for the operation at the Kragga Kamma drop-off site.

“The major problem being experienced by residents is that refuse collection in low-income areas is only done once every two weeks. The frequency of collection has been increased as of March 30 to a weekly service in the Ibhayi area and other areas will follow in due course.

“There are 19 formal transfer stations in Nelson Mandela Bay, which generate about 49 000 tons of waste a year,” Wiliams said.

Although he could not specify when the Kragga Kamma site would re-open, he explained that the site would not only operate as a drop-off Centre for garden refuse and bulky waste, but would before the end of this year operate as a recycling station where members of the public could drop off their recyclable materials.

Although many challenges were experienced with illegal dumping, the metro was still seen as one of the cleanest cities in the country, he said.

“We have prepared and approved a comprehensive strategy to eliminate illegal dumping. Once the strategy has been fully implemented, visible changes will be noticed.”

Source: News 24


 

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Investment in long-term approach towards waste management key to success

Plastics are one of the most used materials in today’s world because of its various properties, ranging from cost saving and light weighting to durability and longevity.

However, as we are using more plastic products, we are also creating more plastic waste. In keeping with international trends and the local legislative framework, the South African plastics industry has committed to the vision ‘Zero plastics to landfill by 2030’. In my opinion a somewhat ambitious target, but surely one that will call the industry to definitive action.

According to data from Plastics|SA, only 20%, or 280,000 tons, of all plastics manufactured in South Africa were recycled in 2013, which shows an increase of 4,1% from 2012. Of the 280,000 tons, 220,400 tons (79%) were plastics packaging products.

One of the reasons Plastics|SA states for the slow increase in the recycling rate, specifically for plastic packaging, is the economic down-turn during 2013 that had a direct impact on the quality and quantity of plastic packaging available for recycling. On the one hand the consumer purchased less, thus less packaging, and on the other hand the exchange rate favoured the export of recyclables.

Regulatory framework

However, it is not only the target of sending ‘Zero plastics to landfill by 2030’ that is driving change and the way in which we as producers view our responsibility towards an increase in plastics waste. In South Africa we have a progressive environmental regulatory framework. The right to an environment that is not harmful to one’s health or well-being is entrenched as a fundamental right in the Constitution of South Africa.

Understanding and navigating legislation can be somewhat daunting, but with reference to waste management and the impact of various pieces of legislation on our industry, we should understand the basic principles of the following Acts and Strategies:

 

  • National Environmental Management: Waste Act (59/2008)
  • National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Act (26/2014)
  • National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS)
  • National Pricing Strategy for Waste Management (NPSWM)

The promulgation of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (59/2008), has placed great emphasis on recycling and the reduction of materials to landfill. It allows for the use of economic instruments applied to specific waste streams to serve as an incentive or disincentive to ultimately increase the diversion of material from landfill.

Six years after the Waste Act was promulgated, we saw the National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Act (26/2014) from which the National Pricing Strategy for Waste Management (NPSWM) is a direct consequence. The Waste Act, as amended, provides for the determination of waste management charges and its review, as well as for the collection of these charges through the national fiscal system.

It also makes provision for the establishment of a Waste Management Bureau within the structures of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). The main purpose of the Waste Management Bureau will be to process, monitor and evaluate any Industry Waste Management Plan (IndWMP) submitted to the DEA. All of these aspects are prescribed in the NPSWM.

Time to get serious

It is time that we get serious about the impact that the Waste Act could have on our industry. We know that we need to increase recycling rates of our various waste streams – from rigid to flexible. But do we know what will happen if we don’t?

The Waste Act introduces us to additional principles such as the life-cycle approach to waste management, extended producer responsibility (EPR), the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.

Within the framework of EPR, we as an industry remain financially or physically responsible for a product to its post-consumer stage. According to the Waste Act, this responsibility could include the implementation of waste minimisation practices, the funding of campaigns to increase the reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste, conducting awareness programmes to inform the public of the impacts of waste emanating from the product on health and the environment.

However, should the Minister of Environmental Affairs believe that a specific waste stream either poses a threat to health or the environment, either due to the quantity or composition of this waste stream, and that current measures are insufficient in dealing with this waste stream, the Minister may declare such a waste a priority waste.

Detailed analysis

Section 28 of the Waste Act allows for the Minister to require a specific industry to submit an IndWMP or any industry may elect to voluntarily submit an IndWMP to the Minister for approval. Typically an IndWMP will provide the Minister with a detailed status quo analysis of the current waste management system, set realistic targets for waste minimisation within a particular industry, outline milestone indicators with achievable time-frames for different interventions and provide for sound record-keeping systems.

The National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) is a legislative requirement of the Waste Act set out to achieve the objects of the Act. According to Michael Goldblatt one of the challenges facing waste management in South Africa is a policy or regulatory environment that does not actively promote the waste management hierarchy.

This has limited economic potential of the waste management sector, which has an estimated turn-over of approximately R10bn per annum. Both the private and public sector believes that waste collection and the recycling industry make meaningful contributions to job creation and the GDP, and will continue to do so with the right combination of industry support and legislative drivers.

To this effect government is proposing an approach that will optimally combine regulation and compliance measures with self-regulatory components, voluntary initiatives, economic incentives and fiscal mechanisms. The approach establishes baseline regulations for the waste sector as a foundation for a co-regulatory system that relies on industry initiative and voluntary compliance.

In cases where industry response proves insufficient for dealing with waste challenges or where market failure prevails, more interventionist regulatory tools may be deployed, i.e. a mandatory EPR scheme where IndWMP have been ineffective.

Purpose of NPSWM

The National Pricing Strategy for Waste Management (NPSWM) is a legislative requirement of the Waste Act and gives effect to the NWMS. It contains guiding methodologies for the setting of waste management charges, the implementation of IndWMP and the operations of the Waste Management Bureau.

The selection and use of economic instruments, as outlined in the strategy, is strongly grounded in the polluter pays principle whereby all generators of waste (including businesses and households) are responsible for the costs of managing wastes generated.

The NPSWM is furthermore based on the principles of environmentally related taxation as per Chapter 2 of the National Treasure Framework for considering market-based instruments to support environmental fiscal reform in South Africa.

One of the aspects addressed in the NPSWM is that of EPR schemes. It is suggested that amongst other advantages, these EPR schemes could be used to relieve municipalities of some of the financial burden of management, promote ‘design for recycling’ initiatives and encourage the use of more recycled content in production processes.

In essence, EPR shifts the responsibility for waste management away from government to industry and these schemes are typically funded through the implementation of various economic instruments, levied either directly by the obligated industry (e.g. product charges, advanced recycling fees, deposit refund schemes, EPR fees), or by government (e.g. through material, input or product taxes).

Evaluation criteria

It is the Minister’s prerogative to declare the application of EPR to a product, group of products or waste stream and the evaluation criteria proposed to identify possible candidates for EPR schemes include:

 

  • Risk of harm – Products with toxic constituents that may become a problem at the end of life.
  • Large products – that are not easily and conveniently thrown out as waste.
  • Complex products – Products with multiple material types that make them difficult to recover in traditional recycling systems.
  • Voluntary measures insufficient – where participation rates or waste diversion from landfill remain low for voluntary EPR schemes already in existence.
  • Current waste stream recycling/recovery low – where the diversion of specific waste streams from landfill is low, as benchmarked against developing and developed countries (e.g. % recycling).

It is important to note that if a waste stream has not been prioritised by the Minister and a voluntary EPR schemes are already in operation, the suggested course of action would be for that voluntary systems to continue operating to ensure minimal disruption to current waste management activities. These voluntary EPR schemes may however be ‘influenced’ by DEA through the approval and implementation of the relevant IndWMPs (e.g. requiring greater support of EPR schemes to municipalities, setting of recycling targets, monitoring and evaluation by government, etc.).

Free riders

But as in any industry and with any voluntary programme, there is always the question of dealing with ‘free riders’ or companies that either refuse or fail to participate. In a recent meeting with DEA, this question was posed in relation to the pricing strategy and DEA responded: “There is a proposed additional tax that will be imposed on free riders. DEA will make it compulsory that companies need to be part of an Industry Waste Management Plan and anyone not forming part of the plan will be subjected to higher tax levels. Engagement with SARS in relation to free riders will still take place.”

When we debate sustainability in the business environment we could easily divide companies into three basic categories, namely: those who only recently embarked on the journey towards greater sustainability, those who are happily using the hype around environmental sustainability as an opportunity to ‘green wash’ their products and brands and those who have gone through great lengths (and costs) to implement the principles of sustainability at every level of their businesses.

I am of the opinion that the majority of companies operating within the PVC industry in South Africa, and globally, fall into the latter group. This is certainly true for members of SAVA who voluntarily signed a Product Stewardship Programme (PSP) in 2011 and continue to work towards achieving its robust targets and deadlines!

DEA indicated in an Industry Waste Management Forum held on 13 February 2015 that they working on a Section 28 Notice to invite industries to submit IndWMPs and that they are engaging on an ongoing basis with sectors and industries that have already voluntarily submitted their IndWMPs. It is foreseen that the Section 28 Notice will be published before the end of this financial year, to also allow a 30 day commenting period, after which the process on calling for the submission of IndWMP will be finalised.

Costs of failure

The outlined legislation either holds an opportunity for the local PVC industry to pro-actively submit and bring into effect its IndWMP, or it holds a risk should the industry decide to adopt a wait-and-see approach. When it comes to legislation and regulations, companies tend to underestimate the cost of non-compliance, which, within the framework of the NPSWM, could be dealt with by the implementation of a government managed tax similar to the plastic bag levy of which we are all too familiar with. Product manufacturers need to understand the true costs of failure, assess the business implications, and adopt long-term strategies to avoid these costs.

To this effect, SAVA is in the process of conducting an extensive recycling survey that will ultimately feed into an IndWMP that we as an industry will voluntarily submit to DEA, in response to the Waste Act and EPR and give effect to in the near future.

In summary SAVA believes that the key to succeeding and avoiding costs in our current regulatory environment is to take a proactive approach and for our industry to invest in a long-term approach towards waste management. The long-term costs of being unprepared are simply too high.

Source: Bizcommunity