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Jan 18, 2012

Tyre recycling plan unsustainable, jobs potential overestimated

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Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has overestimated the number of jobs that can be created through the new tyre recycling programme, Democratic Alliance (DA) water and environment spokesperson Gareth Morgan said on Wednesday, adding that the initiative was unsustainable.

He also said that Minister, who unveiled the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative South Africa (Redisa) on Tuesday, may have flouted sections of the Waste Tyre Regulations (WTR), by failing to publish the plan in the Government Gazette for a 30-day comment period or bring it to the attention of relevant organs of State and interested persons.

“Despite the existence of another long-standing industry driven plan on the table, the Minister has effectively given Redisa a monopoly over tyre recycling in South Africa, as manufactures, dealers and importers must become a subscriber to the plan as long as it is the only plan approved by the Minister,” Morgan told Engineering News Online.

Redisa’s aim is to establish a network of up to 150 collection depots across the country, which would employ up to 15 000 people, including about 5 000 people in the informal sector within five years.

“The Minister approved a plan that will cost far more than any job creation benefit, due to the intended establishment of a complex bureaucracy of up to 150 costly collection sites around South Africa,” he said, adding that it would not be sustainable.

Morgan also expressed doubt whether the employment of informal waste tyre collectors would amount to ‘decent employment’, asking what would happen to the workers once the stockpiles had been cleared.

Further, he argued that the Minister failed to conduct a regulatory impact assessment to determine what the R2.30/kg tyre levy would cost the industry and what the related impacts on the industry would be.

“There are apparent irregularities with regard to approving the Redisa plan and I have asked the Minister to suspend the implementation of the levy, scheduled for February 1, until further consultation with the industry.”

Morgan intended to submit Parliamentary questions during the first week of February to ask the Minister to clarify the situation and circumstances surrounding the approval of Redisa’s plan.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) promulgated the WTR that took effect on June 30, 2009, compelling tyre manufacturers and importers to compile and submit an Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan (IIWTMP).

“Although all the stakeholders in the industry were invited to submit such a plan with their registration, only two plans passed the initial screening. These where provided by the South African Tyre Recycling Process (SATRP) Company and Redisa, two nonprofit companies,” Molewa told a media briefing on Tuesday.

However, SATRP Company CEO Dr Etienne Human told Engineering News Online that certain regulations were not followed when the plans where scrutinised.

“We had not received any feedback, as per the regulations, from the Department of Environmental Affairs as to why our plan failed,” he said.

Human pointed out that the regulations stipulate that should a submitted plan fail, the Minister would give reason as to why the plan failed and give a new date by which the applicant may resubmit the proposal.

“However, following the media briefing the Minister yesterday conceded to the SATRP that it should be able to resubmit its proposal. A deadline was given for today at 13:00, but unfortunately no correspondence was received from the Minister,” SATRP GM Des Griffith told Engineering News Online.

He explained that from a legal perspective, SATRP needs a new deadline to be able to move forward and resubmit its IIWTMP.

The SATRP claimed to have the backing of about 80% of the tyre manufacturing and fitment industry.

“It seems as if we would be forced to resort to legal action to force the Minister to give us a date by which to resubmit our IIWTMP,” Griffith said.

The DEA was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

The Minister said on Tuesday that one of the important elements of Redisa’s plan was to include the informal sector to be able to collect and get paid for the waste tyres it collects, owing to a significant number of people in South Africa making a living in this way. She pointed out that this was one of the reasons the Redisa plan was approved.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
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