The Green Economy has been identified as one of the four sectors that have been prioritised by the government to assist with economic recovery.
This according to Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy who said South Africa has realised that green industries can open up new possibilities for development and assist in creating much needed jobs.
“The waste management sector has strong potential to innovate and improve socio-economic conditions, and contribute to sustainable development and resource use,” Creecy said.
Creecy said the government has aligned policy and strategy with the circular economy concept.
Recently, cabinet approved the National Waste Management Strategy 2020, aimed at promoting the waste hierarchy and circular economy principles, while achieving both socio-economic benefits and the reduction of negative environmental impacts.
“Key to this are the three Pillars of the National Waste Management Strategy, which are promoting waste minimisation; efficient and effective waste services and awareness raising, compliance monitoring and enforcement,” Creecy said.
This year, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries embarked on an extensive consultation process to initiate Extended Producer Responsibility for paper and packaging; electrical and electronic equipment, and lighting.
This gives effect to Section 18 of the National Environmental Management Waste Act, 2008 and also charts the new approach to the management of waste in South Africa.
“This will make a significant contribution in the diversion of waste from landfilling, thereby increasing the recycling rate to achieve the objectives of the National Waste Management Strategy. This programme will ensure that waste pickers are fully integrated in the recycling value chain,”.
The department has also taken strides by ensuring the necessary product design changes that embrace circularity for the manufacturing of plastic carrier bags.
“We have received extensive comments on the amendments of the plastic carrier bags regulations, and I am pleased that we are moving in the right direction to prevent and manage plastic pollution.
“Despite the setbacks faced in the Section 28 process for waste tyres, in November 2019, I commissioned the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – in terms of section 29 of the Waste Act – to develop an industry waste management plan for the waste tyre sector. This process has not been without its difficulties but following recent interactions, we hope to issue a version which is fully compliant with the regulatory environment later this year,” the Minister said.
Other initiatives that the department hopes will promote the circular economy include the exclusion regulations, which recognise material that can be used for beneficiation purposes without requiring a waste licence.
“I have approved 48 applications for the beneficial use of several waste materials, thus unblocking obstacles and promoting the full implementation of the waste management hierarchy.
“We are continuing with the implementation of programmes such as the Recycling Enterprise Support Programme, and Chemicals and Waste Economy Phakisa initiatives that contribute to job creation while diverting waste away from landfills.
“We are also taking time to rethink and reimagine how these programmes can further enhance the demand for waste materials in order to close the loop,” the minister said.