Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa on Tuesday encouraged entrepreneurs to look to the R25 billion waste sector for business opportunities in the recycling economy. Speaking at the second annual Waste Management Summit in Umhlanga, Molewa said that the waste sector had been identified globally as a critical sector with the potential to contribute substantially to the generation of jobs within the green economy.
Speaking at the second annual Waste Management Summit in Umhlanga, Molewa said that the waste sector had been identified globally as a critical sector with the potential to contribute substantially to the generation of jobs within the green economy.
She said that a waste information baseline study conducted by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) revealed that only 10% of waste generated in South Africa was recycled in 2011 and out of 108 million tons of waste generated, 97-million tons was disposed to landfill.
This was the first summit to be open to all stakeholders in South Africa’s waste sector. Previously, only government officials were allowed to attend.
“This is in recognition of the need to streamline the coordination of waste management initiatives within the country and bring together all the role players. These includes other government departments, provinces, municipalities, private sector, civil society and the general public in order to ensure that the plight of waste management is elevated as part of government’s service delivery agenda,” said Molewa.
In 2011, Cabinet approved the National Waste Management Strategy which required all South Africans to play a role towards the achievement of the eight goals contained in the strategy.
Goals one and three required the diversion of 25% of recyclables from landfill sites and the creation of 69 000 new jobs, 2 600 additional work opportunities in the small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) sector and cooperatives in the waste sector in 2016.
“We are here because we want to address the challenges facing the sector, but we are also here because over the next few days we want to explore practical solutions to these challenges, primarily through technological innovation,” said Molewa.
She said according to the General Household Survey 2014, which was aligned with the National Domestic Waste Collection Standards, 75% of South African households have access to waste services, and it was expected that this number would reach 80% by 2019.
Molewa said that for all economies that want to get ahead, entrepreneurs were needed and that the waste sector was no different.
“It is by nurturing and supporting new entrants into this space that we are able to bring new life to the innovative new technologies being discussed at this waste summit.
“It is through supporting these emerging enterprises in South Africa that jobs will be created, and avenues for new markets opened.”
Molewa said the DEA was continuing to work to “get the basics right” on waste management.
“In this regard we have prioritized the licensing of waste disposal sites. We continue to engage and empower communities affected by the negative impacts of illegal dumping and poorly managed landfill sites as well as bolstering compliance monitoring and enforcement capacity and the implementation of authorised waste management best practice.”
he said that “toxic justice” was an important discussion to ensure that the most vulnerable citizens were protected and that polluters were held responsible and prosecuted.
The three-day summit ends on Thursday.
Government and other relevant institutions will be exploring viable economic opportunities in the waste management sector.
“We need to rise to the challenge and develop innovative ideas on how we can improve waste management systems in the country to drive the recycling economy,” Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said.
She was speaking during the three-day National Waste Management Summit, which was convened under the theme ‘War on Waste: Driving the recycling economy in South Africa’, held in Mpumalanga.
The waste recycling economy would positively contribute to the growth and development of South Africa’s economy.
“It is through this economic ingenuity that the Department of Environmental Affairs will also contribute to sustainable development and inclusive green economic growth by facilitating employment creation, infrastructure, skills development and strengthening Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the waste management sector,” Department of Environmental Affairs spokesperson Albi Modise said.
He said more than 500 government representatives, waste management practitioners, academia and civil society gathered at the summit to devise means to accelerate the notion of the recycling economy by eliminating bottlenecks in the waste management sector.
The summit provided a platform for robust, constructive and technical engagements on waste management priorities for the country.
“The waste management sector has viable economic opportunities that the summit acknowledged still need to be unlocked. It is for this reason that government and other relevant institutions are exploring the notion of recycling economy.
“In 2011, Cabinet approved the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS), which paves the way for exploration of recycling economy as a mechanism to improve socio-economic conditions in South Africa,” Minister Modise said.
Source: Cape Business News
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