There are many reasons that attribute to the growing water crisis in South Africa.
Climate change and rising temperatures are making droughts more frequent and severe, with potentially devastating consequences for agriculture, water supply and human health.
This phenomenon is already being observed in the Western Cape, with Cape Town currently facing the very real threat of running out of water completely – Day Zero as it has become known.
The Western Cape, Northern Cape, and Eastern Cape are all in the grip of one of the worst droughts in history and have been declared national disaster areas.
Coupled with climate change putting pressure on water resources, is the migration of people from rural areas to the cities which means more water demands than ever before.
Water contamination threatens already dwindling water resources
Infrastructure is old and/or lacking, and a backlog in services has exacerbated the issue, with valuable water sources being contaminated with sewage and other pollution.
There are many sources of contamination that end up making their way into our dwindling water resources. One of these is used lubricant oil, which is a common by-product of mechanised processes in all industry sectors.
Used oil contain harmful compounds and carcinogens that can easily contaminate the environment, especially if thrown down drains, into landfills or onto the ground where it leaches into the water table.
One litre of used oil can contaminate a million litres of water.
Because of its harmful properties, used oil is classified as a hazardous waste and is strictly governed by environmental laws – with its storage and disposal needing to meet the requirements of the Waste Act.
The ROSE Foundation (Recycling Oil Saves the Environment) has been championing the responsible collection and removal of used oil for proper recycling since 1994. Bubele Nyiba, the CEO of ROSE explains that due to a lack of education many people who generate used oil may dispose of it improperly and illegally – pouring it down a drain, throwing it out onto the ground or even re-using it as a dust suppressant, burner fuel, or wood preservative.
“It is estimated that South Africa generates an average of 120 million litres of used lubricant oil in a year. This is a large amount of used oil that, if not collected and recycled responsibly, could make its way into our environment.”
The ROSE Foundation offer some practical tips on storing used oil:
- Drain oil into a clean container with a tight fitting lid. Empty oil containers and drums make effective makeshift storage vessels for used oil, however, DO NOT use a container that previously held chemicals, such as cleaners, solvents, fuels, paint or bleach.
- Always clearly label the container “Used Motor Oil.”
- Keep these containers in a place that can be accessed by a NORA-SA used oil collector and keep the surrounding area clear and clean. Ideally store them under cover and away from heat or sources of ignition.
- Keep oil change pans tightly sealed and covered to protect them from rain water. Oil that is contaminated with water is far more difficult to recycle.
- Ensure that you do not mix used oil with other fluids such as antifreeze, transmission fluid, petrol, diesel etc. Mixing them may make them non-recyclable as well as very hazardous and flammable.
- Build a bund wall around bulk used oil storage tanks so that in the event of a spill or leak, the used oil will be contained. In the event of an oil spill, contact your used oil collector.
Once your container is full you can drop it off at your nearest approved municipal garden refuse site – a list of which is available from the ROSE Foundation. Otherwise, most reputable service centres have used oil storage facilities and will take your oil, as they are paid according to volume by the collectors who take it away for processing.
Nyiba says that the safe disposal of hazardous waste has become a critical issue in South Africa in order to protect our environment. “The legislation in place in South Africa means that responsible waste management is no longer a nice thing to do but a necessary thing to do.”
For more information and to find out about an accredited collector or drop-off point, contact the ROSE Foundation on (021) 448 7492 or visit www.rosefoundation.org.za.
The Department of Environmental Affairs recently released shocking stats that more than 17 million tons of waste were disposed of across 120 landfills in 2017.
The Glass Recycling Company looked at seven key factors that impact recycling successes in South Africa.
Below are seven factors that will continue playing a successful role in recycling:
- Currently South Africa does not have punitive mandatory legislation in place which makes separation of recyclables at source, (where recyclable material which includes glass, paper, metal and certain plastics is separated from the waste stream) in homes, offices, restaurants and bars. Mandatory separation at source in SA will ensure greater recycling success in years to come.
- In many developing countries like ours, an informal ‘collector market’ has evolved. Recyclables are collected by individuals in order to generate a source of income. This includes individuals who both collectively or independently retrieve recyclables from home or business waste and sell these recyclables to buy back centres.
- These are community-based multi-recycling centres that buy recyclable waste such as paper, plastic, cans and glass from collectors and then sell it on to packaging manufacturers.
- Approximately 50 000 South Africans earn an informal source of income from collecting waste glass and selling this valuable packaging to entrepreneurial buy-back centres.
- South Africa has one of the most efficient returnable bottle systems in the world spearheaded by our beer, wine and spirit manufacturers.
- These returnable glass bottles are sent back to the beverage manufacturers to be sterilised, inspected and refilled, making each glass bottle achieve numerous trips.
- A carbon-friendly trend is closed-loop recycling. Glass, for example, fully meets the formal definition of a Closed Loop System, i.e. bottle-to bottle recycling – whereby material is recycled into the same product (i.e. a bottle becomes a new bottle or jar).
- Recycling glass has huge environmental benefits; it saves landfill space, saves raw materials, lessens demand for energy, and reduces CO2 emissions. As a result, the maximum environmental benefits are achieved in South Africa.
- Manufacturers are certainly assisting in diverting waste from landfill. Consol Glass and Nampak Glass have both invested significantly in the development of high-level cullet processing plants; these include the presence of advanced technology meaning that consumers do not need to sort glass into its three primary colours (brown, green or clear) as this is done at the processing plants by means of optical sorting.
- With the future of our country in the hands of our youth, it is vital to build enthusiasm amongst the youth regarding recycling and green behaviours. Many brands are trying to encourage this, however, there is certainly space to do more. Recycling brands often run campaigns and competitions to encourage recycling in schools.
- As South Africans are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and responsible, the demand for recycling points has increased. The Glass Recycling Company now has more than 4 000 glass banks located nationally which makes it easier for the public to recycle their glass.
According to a Plastics SA Survey, mechanical recycling of plastics has increased by 5, 9% domestically from 2015 to 2016. Polyco Chief Executive Officer, Mandy Naudé, is pleased by this result but feels that more can be done over the festive season.
“It’s great that more South Africans are playing an active part in recycling. The more individuals who recycle and share their tips, the brighter the future.”
Here are some easy recycling tips for the year ahead:
Let’s get one thing clear:
The first step to recycling responsibly is understanding what is recyclable and where your recyclable items should go. Recycling is as simple as separating your waste into one of two bags: black refuse or clear refuse bags. Clear refuse bags are used in order to differentiate the recyclable waste from the organic waste or non-recyclable items.
‘Tis the season for consumption:
From a tub of ice cream to a bottle of soda or a cheeky snack; whatever your pleasure, remember that most of these packaging items can be recycled. A simple trick to assist recyclers is to wash used food packaging items out in your used dishwashing water (to get rid of excess food or liquid), ensuring a seamless journey from collection to waste conversion. Remember to be water-wise if you’re in the Western Cape!
Cracking the code to recycling:
Products made from plastic are safe, versatile and affordable, but did you know that there are seven different types of plastic? Better yet, did you know that most of these types are recyclable? Remember to look out for these recycling codes on the packaging.
- Code 1: PET (made of polyethylene terephthalate) is used in a range of food and household packaging items, but it’s your soda and water bottles that need to go into the clear refuse bag for recycling.
- Code 2: HDPE (made of high-density polyethylene) is used for strong and rigid packaging such as milk bottles, juice bottles and household cleaning bottles.
- Code 3: PVC (made of polyvinyl chloride) is predominantly used in the building and construction industries, as well as the healthcare environment (such as syringes). It is used in very small quantities in packaging items and therefore currently not recycled in SA, so do not throw it into your clear refuse bag.
- Code 4: LDPE (low-density polyethylene) is the most widely recycled plastic material in South Africa. LDPE can be found in plastic food wraps, plastic shopping bags, frozen food bags and bread bags.
- Code 5: PP (polypropylene) can be found in your favourite yogurt container, bottle caps and medicine bottles.
- Code 6: PS (polystyrene) is used in take-away containers, as well as in your fruit, meat and vegetable containers.
- Code 7: Other refers to any other – or multi-layered – material used. Some examples include soup packaging and chip bags. These are currently not recycled in SA and therefore should not be included in your clear refuse bag.
Recycle me not:
Whilst recycling can be simplified, it is also important to be aware of what cannot be recycled. Be sure to toss soggy and wet items (from food or liquid) into your black refuse bag so that they do not contaminate the recyclable material, which would then make it much more difficult to recycle. Watch this video to learn more about what cannot be recycled: https://youtu.be/hT7oxOgFJJk
Where to next?
Once your recyclables bag is full, simply leave it on the pavement outside of your home on the days that your municipality collects the waste. If your municipality does not collect recyclables, visit www.mywaste.co.za and find the nearest drop off point or recycling depot.
For more top tips on responsible recycling over the festive season, visit www.polyco.co.za
Each piece of waste has the potential to pollute the environment in a different way, which is also the reason why there is no single suitable waste management approach to address all types of waste. The waste management hierarchy1 ranks waste management options in order of preference according to the type of waste, and therefore the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) recognises the importance of putting emphasis on the hierarchy in its upcoming its flagship conference, WasteCon 2018.
“It is important that the cycle of waste, from consumer to final disposal is governed by the internationally accepted waste hierarchy, which through its successful application can have several benefits, such as pollution reduction, resource conservation, and job creation,” says Jan Palm, President of the IWMSA. “The application of the waste hierarchy most often starts in households with consumers,” Palm adds.
Household waste can be separated into three parts: solid waste that can be recycled, organic waste (food and garden), and non-recyclables; each type requiring different recovery, treatment and/or disposal methods. Recyclables are repurposed for commercial use, while organic waste should not be landfilled, but rather used to make compost or biogas. Non-recyclable waste is either landfilled or sent to a Waste-to-Energy (WtE) facility to be thermally treated to produce electricity.
“One of the primary waste management challenges today is ensuring that the different types of waste are adequately sorted so that it can be subjected to the correct recovery, treatment or disposal processes,” says Palm. “By being mindful at home and separating waste into its correct category, you are helping to prevent waste from ending up where it does not belong; contaminating the natural environment,” adds Palm.
Have you ever wondered how good South Africa is at sorting and recycling their waste? Looking at a common consumer item, the plastic bag, which is quickly becoming known as South Africa’s unofficial national flower, is one of the biggest environmental burdens posed on coastal and ocean environments. The Ocean Conservancy’s 2017 Coastal Clean-up report2 indicates that during the 2016 effort to clean-up South Africa’s coastlines, plastic bags ranked as the fifth most picked up item. Four out of the top five items picked up all include plastics (plastic bags, food wrappers, beverage bottles and caps), most of which could have been recycled. “Another challenge is that once these items are picked up off beaches during clean-ups most recycling depots are reluctant to accept them as they are dirty and require further sorting and cleaning before they can actually be recycled,” says Palm.
“As we [IWMSA] continue to monitor the waste situation in our country, I would like to encourage all consumers to prevent waste where possible and to give upcycling a try,” encourages Palm.
The topics of ‘zero waste lifestyle’ and upcycling are trending more than ever on social media platforms nowadays. Living a zero waste lifestyle may seem like a challenge, however it can be a great opportunity to cut out short term use items such as plastic bags and bottles, and replace them with environmentally responsible reusable items. By doing this you have just taken a personal step up the waste management hierarchy.
If you feel like you need some guidance on your waste management have a look at the IWMSA’s training schedule, or register for WasteCon 2018 which will provide a wealth of insight into applying the waste management hierarchy. To submit an abstract to be considered to present a paper at WasteCon 2018, visit the Abstracts page on the WasteCon 2018 website.
For more information on the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa visit www.iwmsa.co.za. You can also follow IWMSA on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/iwmsa) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/IWMSA).
Released by Reputation Matters
More than half a million learners from almost 600 schools have taken a message in the bottle into their homes and communities this year as part of Coca-Cola Beverages SA’s Schools Recycling Programme.
On September 27, these young environmental ambassadors will find out who came out tops at the annual Schools Recycling Awards ceremony in Johannesburg, where the top three waste-busting primary and high schools will be announced.
Participating schools commit to collecting at least 1000kg of waste a month – at least 30% of which must be polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – and those with a monthly haul of more than 2 tonnes stand a chance of winning cash prizes to be used for the upgrading of their facilities.
The programme is a part of CCBSA’s commitment to collecting post-consumer waste and raising awareness about the importance of waste management and recycling among learners in regions where it has a presence.
“Schools are the perfect partner in such a programme as learners take the message of environmental stewardship home with them, spreading it within their direct circle of influence and, in the longer term as they grow up and become adults, driving responsible behaviour in their families and communities,” says Tsholofelo Mqhayi, Head: Enterprise and Community Development at CCBSA.
The programme has gone from strength to strength in the six years since its inception, with a total of 597 schools participating in 2017, compared to 40 in 2011.
Last year schools collected a total of 710 tonnes of PET, cans and paper, saving 3 951.6m³ of landfill space.
Apart from standing a chance of winning a cash prize – and helping to remove PET from the waste stream – participating schools earn revenue from the recycling material collected, while learners begin to understand complex sustainability issues.
“Using knowledge, critical thinking skills and values, they are developing the capacity to participate in decision making about environmental and development issues,” says Mqhayi.
The programme has also created permanent jobs for 53 youth Recycling Representatives in CCBSA and elsewhere.
Once the competition has closed for the year, the top 10 schools undergo a rigorous adjudication process during September to determine the top three schools nationally.
Judges consider what each school has collected and also give schools an opportunity to present how they have included communities and parents in the process.
The Schools Recycling Awards are held to honour the schools that have excelled in the programme. The event is attended by learners and teachers from various regions, as well as stakeholders who have assisted in making the programme a success.
Polystyrene recycling in South Africa showed increased growth in 2016, contrary to international reports that suggest the material has been “challenging to recycle”, or in some instances, is unrecyclable.
The reprocessing of expanded and high impact polystyrene increased by 106% between 2013 and 2015, according to the Polystyrene Packaging Council’s (PSPC) director, Adri Spangenberg. This increase was as a result of two reasons: more end-markets were developed and knowledge of successful polystyrene recycling spread.
“We are still awaiting the official recycling figures for 2016, but early indications show that approximately 3,600 tonnes of recycled polystyrene was added to the traditional recycling figures – making this our best year to date,” Spangenberg said.
“We have managed to prove that polystyrene can successfully be recovered from households and industries by working closely with waste management companies and municipalities,” she added.
Polystyrene is widely being used by spaza shops, take-away vendors, cafeterias and supermarkets around the country.
Once recycled, new items are created, and in turn, boosts job creation in many different industries.
“Last year alone, 2,036 tons of polystyrene was successfully recycled for use in lightweight concrete through our Project Build,” Spangeberg said.
These projects use recycled, post-consumer polystyrene for large commercial and residential construction projects around the country.
Another area that has seen considerable growth in the amount of recycled polystyrene is the home décor industry. More than 1,377 tonnes of expanded and high impact polystyrene was recycled last year for use in picture frames, cornices and curtain rods through the PSPC’s Project Dècor.
“Apart from the fact that it helped divert polystyrene from landfill, we are particularly pleased that this is another market where jobs and products were manufactured locally as opposed to relying on cheap imports from the far East that have a detrimental impact on our own markets,” Spangenberg said.
Plans for 2017
Looking ahead at 2017, the PSPC said it will continue to promote the use and recycling of polystyrene to South African industries.
“The Davos World Economic Forum gathering released their report in which they called for strategies to dramatically increase recycling of plastic packaging from the current 14% to 70%,” Spangenberg said.
Spangenberg believes that plastic material is also worth a lot more when used in infrastructure applications, and should therefore be re-used and recycled into building projects that will benefit many generations to come.
Recycling polystyrene is also key to reclaiming useful carbons and reusing valuable resource, the PSPC said.
Spangenberg concluded by emphasising that polystyrene recycling helps create jobs, revenue opportunities and opportunities to innovate new products “in a true, circular economy model”.
As any shipowner knows, when a vessel’s revenue earning capacity drops too far there is only one realistic option, which is to sell the vessel for recycling.
Why ship recycling?
Ships are acquired by shipbreakers for their intended resale value, in the form of their machinery, fittings and ferrous and non-ferrous content; however scrapping a ship is highly energy and labour intensive and is only undertaken on a large scale in four countries: namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China.
The impetus for an enforceable international standard
The current principal international regime covering the exporting of waste is the Basel Convention1. This convention provides the framework for the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal and all EU member states have ratified it through the EU Waste Shipments Regulation2 (the WSR).
The applicability of the Basel Convention/WSR to the export of end of life ships is, however, a matter that has been of debate.
The Hong Kong Convention3
In response to these concerns the IMO charged the Marine Environment Pollution Committee to develop a more workable legislative framework, leading in May 2009 to the holding of a diplomatic conference in Hong Kong at which 63 States, including the key recycling states, flag states, and as observers the European Commission and important NGOs all participated.
This conference led to the signature of the Hong Kong Convention, which aims for the complete and exclusive ‘marinisation’ of the inspection, survey, permission and policing of the process of the recycling of ships and their disposal: a process which is currently the responsibility of environmental agencies founded on land-based export criteria4.
It will do away with the concept of ‘export and import’ and instead impose responsibility for the surveying and certification of the vessel on the vessel’s flag state obliging it to certify that the ship recycling plan has been duly authorised by the relevant agency in the recycling state5, imposing on such states the responsibility for the licensing of the relevant recycling facilities.
Under the Convention the hazardous materials on a vessel will need to be identified throughout its working life and not just at the time it is scrapped. It also prohibits the installation or use of Hazardous Materials6 on both new and existing ships.
The process of implementation and ratification
The Convention will not take effect until it has received the support of a sufficient number of both high volume, ship operating and ship recycling states.
European Ship Recycling Policy
Following the signature of the Hong Kong convention, the European Commission produced the EU Ship Recycling Regulation7 (the SRR).
The SRR purports to bring into EU law the following principles for ships flying the flag of EU Member States:
- Ships will have to establish and maintain an inventory of hazardous materials (IHM).
- Ships will have to be dismantled “in safe and environmentally sound ship recycling facilities”.
- The amount of hazardous waste on board will have to be minimised and other steps taken to prepare for recycling prior to delivery to a recycling facility.
The ‘European List’ and application
A “European list of ship recycling facilities” that are acceptable will be prepared and all EU flagged ships will have to be recycled in facilities that are on this list.
The SRR has already entered into force but will not be applicable until the earlier of 31 December 2018 and the date which is 6 months after the EU Commission has approved a sufficient number of Ship Recycling Facilities. In April 2016 the European Commission issued ‘Technical Guidance’ for facilities seeking approval.
The effect of the SRR
While the SRR is directed to those ships flying the flag of EU member states, Article 12 will, when it comes into force, require any ship that is present in European waters to have in place a current and compliant IHM.
Where to go from here
There are standard contract forms, in particular the BIMCO ‘Recyclecon’ form, which can accommodate the concerns of the owner in relation to ship recycling. However, ship recycling is for many, an unfamiliar area and the guidance of an experienced professional adviser is recommended.
Global concern about the mountains of e-waste generated every year has been rising for quite some time – and with good reason.
Global concern about the mountains of e-waste generated every year has been rising for quite some time – and with good reason: In 2014, the United Nations estimated that humans produced 41.8 million metric tons of electronic waste. That’s 92 billion pounds – and even though IT products made up just 7 percent of that waste, that still represents almost 6.5 billion pounds of waste our industry generated in a single year.
There are no easy solutions to the many enmeshed challenges of e-waste, but by designing for reuse, repair, refurbishing and recycling, we can make real progress.
For all the concern about user experience in design, there is one aspect of product design that gets ignored entirely too often by others – one that has major impacts on the business, the environment, and people around the world: end-of-life design.
Designing for a second life requires a deep understanding of the downstream processes for handling electronics. One way to enable this is to open up dialogue between designers and recyclers. These experiences and conversations with recyclers get the designers thinking about beautiful products that are also optimized for repair, refurbishment, and recycling.
Big and small changes can make refurbishing and recycling significantly easier. For instance, on a recent field trip our engineers learned that having laptop cases open from the top instead of the bottom greatly extends the time it takes to dismantle. Using snap fits vs. glues and adhesives help minimize processing time. And designing instruction manuals with icons, pictures, and videos rather than text allows recyclers to work and repair at the same time instead of pausing to read detailed instructions.
For Man Tak Ho, one of Dell’s Mechanical Senior Engineers, the field trips really help extend the life of the product: “Not only do we need to be making it easy to disassemble, but it needs to be easy to repair.”
Modular thinking is another way to address e-waste. One example that we’ve employed with our commercial notebooks is creating a single access door for all major components, which makes it easier for users to repair by themselves versus requiring a user guide and trained technician.
Fairphone, a Dutch cell phone maker, does a great job of incorporating modular thinking into their design while also addressing human rights challenges associated with extracting raw materials.
Their latest model, the Fairphone 2, is “a smartphone dedicated to creating positive social change.” The company sources fair-trade metals and works to improve mining supply chains in Africa and elsewhere. The phone’s innovative modular design makes upgrading and repairing a simple plug-and-play operation.
The short film below, by the winner of Dell’s Legacy of Good Short Film Contest, dives into Fairphone’s approach and process.
Your trash is our treasure
Turns out “trash” can be a workable and cost effective material for designers. We’re seeing it in the growth of the circular economy, with innovative uses of waste products being turned into the building blocks of exciting projects and products. Adidas, for example, just made a slick shoe out of ocean plastic – a material we’re exploring for use in our packaging.
This idea of turning trash into treasure holds true for electronics design as well. Some of us in the industry are using recycled plastics for our products. At Dell, we are turning the plastic from e-waste into new parts for OptiPlex all-in-ones, desktops and monitors. We are also using other industries’ excess carbon fiber in select Latitude, and Alienware laptops.
Critical to all of this is strong recycling infrastructure. If Dell did not have recycling operations in 83 countries and territories, “closing the loop” would become more challenging.
We owe it to our customers, our communities and our planet to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with design. It’s not always just about the beauty on the outside, but the hidden beauty: the resources we leave out, what we recycle, and how we extend the workable life for the next person to enjoy.
Ed Boyd is Dell’s Senior Vice President of Experience Design across commercial, consumer and enterprise businesses.
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.
South Africa’s 3,000-kilometer coastline could support a whole fleet of eco-friendly desalination plants that will solve the country’s water shortages and produce a new industry, says Kgalema Motlanthe.
The former South African deputy president, Motlanthe served as president for eight months following Thabo Mbeki’s resignation. He spoke at round table event on black industrialists in the green economy, encouraging exploration of desalination technology, MiningWeekly reports.
South Africa in 2015 recorded its lowest annual rainfall since record keeping began in 1904. A drought, attributed to El Nino, put millions at risk of food shortage, according to Reuters.
The country is over-dependent on surface water, said Nomvula Paula Mokonyane, South Africa’s Minister of Water Affairs.
Globally, capacity is growing for seawater reverse osmosis desalination at an annual rate of 13.6 percent and this is expected to continue the next five years, according to Research and Markets. New technology is helping the industry grow by leveraging renewable energy and innovative membrane upgrades such as ceramic and polymeric membranes.
But desalination technology hasn’t caught up to demand. Desalination is extremely expensive and prone to contamination, Frost & Sullivan reported in October, 2015.
More than 17,000 desalination plants operate in 150 countries worldwide, a capacity that is expected to double by 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan’s Analysis of Global Desalination Market. The market earned $11.66 billion in 2015 and it’s expected to reach $19.08 billion in 2019.
“Environmentally-conscious countries in Europe and the Americas are hesitant to practice desalination owing to its harsh effects on sea water,” said Vandhana Ravi, a Frost & Sullivan consultant. “Eco-friendly desalination systems that do not use chemicals will be well-received among municipalities.”
While several desalination projects are under construction in the U.S., India, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, adoption is slow in other drought-stricken parts of the world. Lack of regulatory support limits uptake.
Thermal desalination technology uses large amounts of energy and releases highly salty liquid brine back into the sea or other bodies of water, impacting the environment negatively. Brine disposal remains a prime challenge until the technology is upgraded, according to Frost & Sullivan.
The goal is to reduce operating costs.
Sub-Saharan Africa is largely dependent on rainfall, which has been erratic, and new partnerships are being forged from necessity.
In May, South Africa announced a partnership with Iran to develop desalination plants along all coastal communities to boost water supplies. President Jacob Zuma visited Iran in April.
Mossel Bay in the Western Cape is the site of South Africa’s largest desalination plant, converting salty seawater to drinkable water and helping supply water to state oil company PetroSA’s gas-to-fuel refinery.
South Africa is the main user of desalination technology in sub-Saharan Africa. Ghana and Namibia also have operational plants. Algeria is using desalination on a large scale.
In April 2015, West Africa’s first desalination plant opened in Ghana. Accra Sea Water Desalination plant has capacity to supply 60,000 cubic meters a day of fresh water, enough for 500,000 residents in the Accra vicinity, WaterWorld reported.
In late 2015, Algeria’s Skikda desalination plant reached a milestone with a 200 million cubic meters of drinking water produced since starting operations in 2009, according to WaterWorld.
Desalinated water is used as drinking water for the city of Skikda, and feeds the local petrochemical complex. The Spanish company Abengoa Water runs the facility, along with two more desalination plants in Algeria at Honaine and Ténès.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans a trip in July to four East African countries — Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
Rwanda looks to Israel as a model of how to build a modern country out of the devastation of genocide, Rwanda’s Ambassador Joseph Rutabana told The Jerusalem Post.
Rwanda is on Netanyahu’s list because it is arguably Israel’s closest friend on the continent. Rwanda wants to benefit from Israeli water management expertise, according to an Israeli diplomatic source.
“Israel has no water resources, but has developed other technologies toward recycling and water desalination that has made it self reliant,” Rutabana said. “In Rwanda we have lots of rain, but are still suffering from shortages.”
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