The trial saw plastic carrier, barrier and fruit and vegetable bags at the store replaced with compostable bags made from starches, cellulose, vegetable oils and combinations.
The compostable bag is produced by an Italian company Novamont. Based on 20 years of research, Novamont had developed a fully biodegradable and compostable bioplastic resin known as Mater-Bi.
At the trial event, Pick n Pay chairperson Gareth Ackerman said much progress has been made since 2003, when the plastic bag levy was introduced in South Africa, to encourage customers to move away from single-use plastic carrier bags, but more needs to be done.
“Sustainable solutions require all parties involved – retailers, government, plastic manufacturers, consumers and recyclers – to work collaboratively and beyond plastic bags to all forms of waste,” he added.
Pick n Pay transformation director Suzanne Ackerman-Berman explained that the bags that were piloted are strong and can be reused. “The important difference [compared with plastic bags] is that they are home compostable. The bags are designed to collect organic waste, such as kitchen scraps, and will compost with the organic waste in a home compost environment.”
The bags will break down after three to six months – depending on the composting system – compared with the reported 500 to 1 000 years for plastic bags. Customers can also bring the bags back to the company’s stores, after which the company will take them to a Pick n Pay compostingfacility.
“Given that this option is still in its infancy in South Africa, there are several considerations to look at before they could be introduced to scale. Currently, for example, there are no integrated large-scale composting facilities available,” said Ackerman-Berman.
Meanwhile, the company last month committed to removing all plastic straws from checkouts and make only paper straws available at its cold-drink kiosks, while store branded earbuds with paper inners will also be introduced.
Additionally, Pick n Pay will introduce 100% recyclable plastic bags in stores from August.
By 2050, the world’s human population will reach over nine billion. Nearly all of this increase will occur in developing countries. Urbanisation is going to rise at an accelerating rate and income levels could multiply. With an extra two billion mouths to feed each day, how can we ensure Global Food Security is achieved by 2050?
Harsh increases in global and national markets, and the resulting surges in hungry and malnourished people have sharpened the awareness of the general public and policy-makers on the issue that is the global food system. Political will and effective responses must be utilised to render the system better prepared for long-term demand and to ensure it is more resilient towards risk factors that confront world agriculture and adequate food supply.
On average, around five million children die each year due to poor nutrition. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), almost 1 billion people suffer from chronic hunger. Before addressing the issue of our rapidly increasing population, we should question the current situation. As an international community who want to eliminate world hunger, the problem should be viewed from a human rights perspective, and those who have previously been disregarded in development planning must have a place: equality, human rights and economics must frame the sustainable development goals, (SDGs).
Increased food production is not sufficient to achieve global food security. The fight against hunger requires policies to enhance access to fighting poverty, safety net programmes, health and sanitation, food assistance, education and training improvements. Research and development for sustained productivity growth, infrastructure and institutional reforms, environmental services and sustainable resource management necessitate increased investment. Policies should not only focus on supply growth, but also the access to food the world’s poor and hungry need to ensure them an active and healthy life, a journal from Nature stated.
As rural populations expand quicker than agricultural employment, there will be an increased demand for jobs out of the agricultural sector. As competition for space between water and agriculture increases, it must be recognised that we need more from less land. Issues such as climate change, natural habitat preservation and biodiversity need to be taken into account, especially as converting tropical rainforest to agricultural land is a very destructive process, one which we have already exploited. It needs to be asked, what can be done for countries with high demand growth, fragile environments and limited commercial capacity to import food or feed from the world markets?
With increased prosperity in developing countries, diets will shift from grains and other staple crops to vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy, and fish. It has been estimated that meat production alone will have to rise by over 200 million tonnes to reach the required 470 million tonnes worldwide.
It is not only food production that is an issue; many regions in East/North Africa and South Africa have pronounced water scarcity which is likely to worsen due to the effects of climate change. Higher temperatures, carbon dioxide elevation, precipitation changes, increased weeds,pests and disease pressure are some of the products of climate change, which can hold dangerous implications on achieving global food security.
It seems, realistically, that is not necessarily all about space. Agricultural expansion does not appear as a sustainable solution for the problem. Improvements in organic and commercial farming, increasing yields on less productive farmlands, preventing deforestation, shifting to less meat-intensive diets in countries where meat is consumed regularly and reducing waste can all hold positive impacts, say the National Geographic.However, there are many factors that also need to be taken into account. The use of biofuels, pollution, overall capacities, foreign investment capacity in developing countries and the fact that the FAO estimates future consumption levels country by country should be considered.
We have the resources and technology required to eradicate world hunger. However, in order to utilise these resources, proper socioeconomic frameworks and political will is required. The way we shape the future for the global food system is up to us. The time for change is now.
These recommendations were made at the end of a workshop held in Gaborone, Botswana, and was attended by SADC minister of water and energy resources and released Tuesday in a communiqué.
The objective of the workshop was to facilitate exchange of ideas and forge practical and sustainable solutions in addressing energy and water challenges in the region with a view to map out a strategic direction and agree on a way forward.
The workshop observed that some of the challenges which are contributing to energy insecurity in the region are the focus on national self-sufficiency by member states, which leads to stretching the little resources and yield of minimum generation capacities.
“On a similar note,” the communiqué said, “Riparian States sharing a river basin are still inward looking and aiming at building national dams to meet their national needs which tend to be very expensive and create some competition within the river basin.”
Furthermore, the communiqué said despite the region’s abundant potential for hydro-power, solar power, wind power, coal and gas, it is experiencing energy insecurity because of poor investment in these energy sources.
According to the communiqué, lack of consumer education on efficient use of both energy and water is another cause of water and energy shortages.
The workshop proposed joint investments on strategic water and energy projects, citing the example of the Grand Inga hydropower project in the Congo basin that could contribute towards the regional energy supply if implemented.
Another recommendation was that a study should be carried out on transferring water from the water rich basins to the water stressed parts of the region through inter/intra basin transfers. Enditem
Buildings are the key to a cleaner and greener future, and Bidvest Facilities Management aligns itself with this statement.
The company participated in the recent annual Green Building Convention (GBCSA), aimed at leading the sustainability journey in the South African property industry through inspirational thought and action.
Onisms Manyewe, an energy engineer at Bidvest Facilities Management and a green star accredited professional with the GBCSA, says that electricity accounts for 90% of the utilities bill for an average South African business, and this power percentage is unlikely to drop in the near future, given the current energy situation the country is facing.
“Today, most firms focus on their core competencies, and there is a limit to the efficiencies that a business can achieve on its own. As such firms require experts who can realise significant savings for them, while their businesses remain productive and efficient,” he says.
Bidvest Facilities Management aims to deliver an integrated facility management strategy that minimises total costs through forward looking, performance-based risk and maintenance strategies. “We participate at events such as the Green Building Convention of South Africa because we recognise the importance of sustainable solutions for businesses, which has a ripple effect on the economy of the country as a whole. We have always been about applying environmental and sustainability strategies in various industries, through our technical knowledge and experience which facilitates conservative electrical energy consumption and is dedicated to holistically reduce the impact of energy consumption on the natural environment,” comments Manyewe.
According to Bidvest Facilities Management, a global rise in the demand for energy is seeing organisations turn to greener solutions, and as people begin to recognise the importance in energy consumption, a significant increase in the number of South African firms adopting green building initiatives is noticeable. It was projected that in 2015, the level of green building activity in the country would rise to 60%.
Green building and smart building design solutions provide firms with lower operating cost, which results in healthier neighbourhoods, while rendering higher returns on investments, and promoting lower taxes on carbon emissions.
“Our solutions have been tested, and yielded results. One of our clients achieved a massive electricity cost saving during the 2013/2014 financial year, which saved R47,9-million on a project that would have costed them R73,7-million,” adds Manyewe.
Bidvest Facilities Management has in-depth expertise in providing energy efficient propositions for existing firms that wish to retrofit their buildings into green ones. The company also assists with planning future green developments in accordance and consultation with the Green Building Council who develop a rating tool for existing buildings.
“We have our own qualified in-house engineers, so don’t need to outsource these services. This team belongs to a group of only 13 000 globally, and are always on hand to assist in reducing the electrical energy consumption in buildings,” says Manyewe.
In a drive to stimulate green innovation in South Africa, The Alchemist PR and TEVA have partnered with Finweek and World Wild Life Fund (WWF) SA to produce the country’s first publication of its kind, as well as the Awards initiative.
Set for release during Sustainability Week which will be hosted in Johannesburg in the last week of June, GreenOvation is also intended as a tool for attracting investment in the big ideas, the simple yet innovative solutions which need a financial kick-start.
We are looking for companies and individuals who have either funded or developed sustainable solutions which offer direct benefit to the local community, enhances access to clean running water, or energy-efficient innovation to participate in the publication to be nominated for Awards,” offers Diane Naidoo-Ngcese, MD of The Alchemist PR.
Categories for entry as well as editorial submission include innovation in:
- Transport & Logistics
- Education & Youth Development
- Architecture & Construction
- Design & Production – advertising & print houses
“Sustainability is often wrongly perceived as a white middle class issue when in reality, the consequences of not going green has a dire impact on the working class The cost of electricity, the access to clean running water, the overall improvement in the quality of life makes
sustainability a non-negotiable if South Africa is to truly offer a better life for all,” comments Naidoo-Ngcese.
But the innovators and game-changers in this space are either unaware of the funding options, or do not have the capacity to create the exposure required to attract the attention of investors.Funding institutions such as the Industrial Development Corporation, Development Bank of South Africa are among a host of financing options available for green initiatives. The SA Green Fund alone has a budget of R800m for projects to assist South Africa’s transition to a low carbon economy.
Naidoo-Ngcese offers: “Green good news stories and projects undertaken through CSI programmes are relegated to internal newsletters, annual reports or corporate presentations, and young entrepreneurs ideas remain ideas. And yet the green economy would be fast-tracked if these ideas were transitioned to a profitable business model that creates jobs and bolster the local economy.”
The critical issue, as in most emerging markets, is the challenge of access to information and education. When mobile phones entered the local market, the campaign to stimulate demand was driven by big marketing budgets. This is not the case with sustainability.
Managing director of media sponsors TEVA Windows & Doors Pieter Malherbe adds: “When I started my business nine years ago, consumers did not quite understand what energy-efficient windows and doors were, how they worked or the financial benefits these products represent hold. If the movement for sustainability had access to ad-spend of big global brands, we would see greater community buy-in.”
Malherbe says GreenOvation is one small step in ensuring sustainability becomes a mainstream issue which garners mass support, as communities, business and as government. He also believes that if the private sector throws their weight behind this initiative, it will also assist young aspirant entrepreneurs like him to ‘connect the dots between innovation, enterprise development, job creation and the development of the green economy’.
World Wild Life Fund South Africa has offered its support GreenOvation and has come on board as editorial advisors for the publication, with Saliem Fakir Head of the Living Planet Unit at WWF has agreeing to serve on the Awards Judging Panel, along with Miss Earth 2004 green activist Catherine Constantinides.
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“We are looking for companies and individuals who have either funded or developed sustainable solutions which offer direct benefit to the local community, enhances access to clean running water, or energy-efficient innovation to participate in the publication to be nominated for awards,” says Diane Naidoo-Ngcese, MD of The Alchemist PR.
Categories for entry as well as editorial submission include innovation in:
- Transport and logistics
- Education and youth development
- Architecture and construction
- Design and production – advertising and print houses
“Sustainability is often wrongly perceived as a white middle class issue when in reality, the consequences of not going green has a dire impact on the working class. The cost of electricity, the access to clean running water, the overall improvement in the quality of life makes sustainability a non-negotiable if South Africa is to truly offer a better life for all,” comments Naidoo-Ngcese.
Financing options available
Funding institutions such as the Industrial Development Corporation, Development Bank of South Africa are among a host of financing options available for green initiatives. The SA Green Fund alone has a budget of R800m for projects to assist South Africa’s transition to a low carbon economy.
But the innovators and game-changers in this space are either unaware of the funding options or do not have the capacity to create the exposure required to attract the attention of investors. “Green good news stories and projects undertaken through CSI programmes are relegated to internal newsletters, annual reports or corporate presentations, and young entrepreneurs ideas remain ideas. And yet the green economy would be fast-tracked if these ideas were transitioned to a profitable business model that creates jobs and bolster the local economy,” Naidoo-Ngcese says.
“When I started my business nine years ago, consumers did not quite understand what energy-efficient windows and doors were, how they worked or the financial benefits these products represent hold. If the movement for sustainability had access to ad-spend of big global brands, we would see greater community buy-in,” managing director of TEVA Windows, Pieter Malherbe, says.
He says GreenOvation is one small step in ensuring sustainability becomes a mainstream issue which garners mass support, as communities, business and as government. He also believes that if the private sector throws their weight behind this initiative, it will also assist young aspirant entrepreneurs like him to ‘connect the dots between innovation, enterprise development, job creation and the development of the green economy’.
WWF SA has come on board as editorial advisors for the publication, with Saliem Fakir, head of the Living Planet Unit at WWF, to serve on the awards judging panel along with Miss Earth 2004, Catherine Constantinides.
Earlier this year a team of students from the University of Technology in Trondheim designed a very sustainable hut as part of a design- and building workshop. They were assisted by Rintala Eggertsson Architects and several others. The international seminar that the workshop was part of was focused on the future of eco-tourism in the Western Ghats region in India. And the main purpose of it was to find sustainable solutions, which would benefit both the local population as well as help preserve the environment in the region.
To solve this problem, the huts the design team proposed would be built using only locally sourced materials and renewable energy sources. This has the multi-faceted purpose of creating a small footprint, involving the community in the building efforts, simplifying the construction and ensuring that maintenance of the buildings is easy and feasible in the long run.
The placing of the huts follows the local building tradition, namely a cluster of houses placed around a central, shaded courtyard that serves as a gathering spot. There is room for a couple of more houses next to already existing dwellings, or more could be built to form another cluster of buildings with it’s own courtyard. Also, more than one of these houses can be added together and create an even more urban setting, situation and space permitting, of course.
The hut proposed by the design team also makes it possible for the local population to take part in environmentally conscious tourism. By renting the huts out they will make a profit, but it will not interfere with their traditional culture and lifestyle, as much as a more modern hotel would.
Each hut is designed to function completely off-the-grid. They are all fitted with roof-top mounted solar panels, which is capable of taking care of the occupants’ energy needs. There is also a composting latrine, which produces enough biogas for one household. The huts are located in Karnataka, India.
Source: Jeston Green
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