We all want to see a South African future with zero waste to landfill, cleaner and safer communities, financially viable and stable management of waste, and to allow our natural systems to regenerate for generations to come.
But the shift to a more circular and sustainable system will not come from somewhere or someone else. Each of us has an important role to play – in our homes, in our shopping choices and in how we manage our businesses.
Justice Tootla, managing director of integrated waste management company Averda explains, “… over the last year or so we have seen an increase in big manufacturing business within various sectors wanting to improve their environmental footprint and reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill.”
“For this to be achieved, they will need to partner with experts in waste to help developing a comprehensive end-to-end waste management programme that will help drive a circular economy not only for them, but South Africa as a whole.”
He gives an example of one such programme which they support.
One of South Africa’s largest packaging companies started to rethink their attitude towards waste and embraced the need to build an integrated waste cycle. With the goal set to reduce their general waste by 30% in the next 12 months, Averda assisted them by reviewing and upgraded their waste management systems and are now implementing a more sustainable approach across their sites.
The recycling waste collected at the factory will be moved to a designated waste area for further sorting and segregation to help reduce landfill volumes and to increase the amount of recyclables collected, which will then generate a financial rebate for the company. This rebate will offset the implementation costs of the new recycling system.
Tootla says that the programme needed the buy in not only from their client’s decision makers but from their employees.
“We included comprehensive staff training at all levels within the organisation, ensuring that the staff had a better understanding of the regulation and the impact it has on the environment, their communities and working space.”
The contract will look beyond just recycling of normal waste streams but also the handling of their wet waste stream such as sealant and water-based liquids. These liquids will be transported to the Averda blending platform, situated at the Vlakfontein hazardous waste landfill site, where the liquids will be converted to an alternate fuel for thermal processes.
“All the changes we are making to our clients waste management solutions is supported by the recent changes to government policy and call for a more circular economy,” says Tootla.
Last year the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries released an updated National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS), which outlined government policy and strategic interventions for the waste sector and is aligned and responsive to the Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030 adopted by all United Nations members.
“Businesses should not shy away from this opportunity as it has been proven that establishing a circular economy provides economic benefits by not only reducing waste but simultaneously fostering business growth and job prospects.
"The goal of these changes is to sever the relationship between economic growth and the use of natural resource, so that our global economic prosperity is not linked to environmental degradation,” says Tootla.