While international climate agreements and local initiatives, such as the updated National Waste Management Strategy, help to spur businesses to pursue zero emissions and waste to the environment, 45% of global greenhouse-gas emissions are generated by the way people make and use products, says waste management and recycling company Averda MD Justice Tootla.
Local businesses need to start looking at how they can contribute to reducing waste and emissions, he says.
“Businesses should seize this opportunity because 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 resources, so that our global economic prosperity is not irrevocably linked to environmental degradation,” Tootla stresses.
Averda has seen a small increase in big manufacturing businesses wanting to improve their environmental footprint and reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill over the past year, but not enough has happened yet, he points out.
One example of a company taking steps in the right direction is a large packaging company that reconsidered its attitude to waste and embraced the need to build an integrated waste cycle, with the goal of reducing its general waste by 30% over the course of 12 months.
Averda assisted the packaging company by reviewing and upgrading its waste management systems and implementing a more sustainable approach across the company’s sites.
The recycling waste collected at the factory will be moved to a designated waste area for further sorting and separation 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, says Tootla.
The success of the programme required buy-in from the company’s decision-makers and employees.
“We included comprehensive staff training at all levels, ensuring that the staff had a better understanding of the regulation and the impact it has on the environment, their communities and working space.”
Most of Averda's contracts also look beyond recycling of normal waste to the handling of their wet waste stream, such as sealant and water-based liquids. These liquids will be transported to a blending platform, situated at the Vlakfontein hazardous waste landfill site, where the liquids will be converted to an alternative fuel for thermal processes, he points out.
“Reducing waste and a business' environmental footprint is not as complicated as it seems. For this to be achieved, business will need to partner with an expert in waste to help develop a comprehensive end-to-end waste management programme that will help drive a circular economy.
“We all want to see a South Africa 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 future generations,” Tootla says.