SA IS missing out on huge job opportunities and the creation of new industries that would arise if the country was to invest in waste management, says the director of the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of SA (Redisa), Stacey Davidson.
With SA generating 108-million tonnes of waste per year, and R17bn worth of other waste products being buried at landfills, recycling offered immense opportunities. “We need to build our recycling industry across all commodities because waste will be the only place where we will get resources from in future.”
Nonprofit Redisa has helped create 216 small businesses and 2,900 permanent jobs through waste tyre management alone over the past two years.
The company’s establishment followed the decision by the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2012 that the tyre industry be the first in SA to develop an industry waste management plan.
In 2012 only 4% of waste tyres were being recycled, with the rest ending up at landfills or burnt. The rate has since risen to 35% as at the end of August. An estimated 200,000 waste tyres are generated every year in SA.
Department of Environmental Affairs deputy director-general for chemical and waste management Mark Gordon conceded that waste management was a “big area of opportunity for SA” and could generate as much as R50bn per year.
Industry waste management plans for paper, plastic and electronics were under consideration.
“We hope these plans will be finalised by the end of the year and we also hope to create in excess of 50,000 jobs within the next few years.”
Tyre dealers register with Redisa as collection points for worn-out tyres, which are then collected, stored and processed by the small businesses created through the programme.
With 44% of South African households not serviced for waste collection, emulating the success in the waste tyre industry in others, such as plastic, paper and glass, could benefit the economy.
“As you build up these industries, jobs will be created, which will drive up your taxpayer base and improve your fiscus and the gross domestic product,” Ms Davidson said.