Partnerships are the key to success in the waste management and recycling industry, is the conclusion that was arrived at during a workshop in the Eastern Cape.
Early in November PETCO hosted a workshop with some of its partners in the Eastern Cape. The aim of the event was to share information around waste management and recycling in the province, outline current plastics collection and recycling initiatives in SA, showcase local projects, and shine a spotlight on waste and the green economy.
The event was well attended by local PETCO members and shareholders, NGOs and government departments, environmental groups, recyclers and collectors, as well as local business and industry.
Opportunities in the waste management sector
Tembela Mapukata of the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism of the Eastern Cape highlighted the inherent opportunities that lie in the waste management sector. These include:
- the potential to develop recycling infrastructure to enable diversion of waste streams to material recovery and buy-back facilities;
- finding innovative ways to fund and generate revenue in order to build, operate and maintain these facilities;
- the economic potential of the waste management sector and the associated contribution to job creation in the province;
- and the current changes in legislation, which create an enabling environment for business to thrive and seek to promote initiatives that contribute positively to green economy.
Challenges with recycling and waste management
Mapakuta also gave an overview of recycling and waste management challenges in the province. These include:
- non-compliance with environmental legislation and licencing of unlicensed landfill sites;
- the legacy of inadequate waste service provision;
- the growing pressure on outdated waste management infrastructure;
- the declining levels of capital investment and maintenance;
- the real costs of waste management not fully being calculated by authorities and appreciated by consumers and industry;
- waste disposal being used as preferred treatment over other options;
- and also funding and budgeting challenges.
Other speakers on the day included Melinda Labuscagne of the Waste Management Department of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and Lindsay Strachan from Royal Haskoning DHV (Pty) Ltd who gave a joint presentation on the ‘Municipal Solid Waste Diversion and Beneficiation Opportunities’ study done for the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Municipality.
Lizle Schultz of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) shared their vision to be the centre of excellence for small enterprise development in South Africa. SEDA’s core services aim to ensure that the small enterprise sector grows and increases its contribution to sustainable and equitable social and economic development, employment and wealth creation in the province.
The workshop also included the PETCO team’s overview of its initiatives and the projects that have received support via the provision of equipment. These projects were Enviroman in Jeffreys Bay, Cannibal Multi Recycling and the Waste Trade Company in Port Elizabeth, and the Tsitsikamma Community Upliftment Project on the Garden Route. They are all established businesses providing waste management and recycling service. They also sustain the economy through the provision of jobs, skills development and upliftment in the broader communities they touch.
The day underlined a strong sense that partnerships are the key to success, and that there is a need for regional approaches and localised solutions in enabling a recycling economy in the Eastern Cape.
PETCO’s success in the decade since its inception has been built among others on partnering with key players in the market, which includes not only the resin producers, converters, bottlers, brand owners and retailers, but also the recyclers and collectors, other organisations involved in waste management and recycling, government and also consumers.
“PETCO is all about partnerships, responsibility and environmental integrity,” says CEO Cheri Scholtz. “We depend largely on developing these partnerships: forming them is complex and time-consuming, but if done successfully, it amplifies efforts that are of mutual interest and therefore also the successes achieved,” she added.
Informal sector involvement and job creation is characteristic
Indeed, one of the most important characteristics of PET recycling in South Africa has been the high level of involvement of the informal sector, and the job creation that has been possible through its initiatives. PETCO has contributed to a reduction in unemployment across South Africa by generating almost 41 000 indirect income and sustainable livelihoods opportunities by 2013, as well as the facilitation of relevant skills development.