Supply chain interrupted

With trade already heavily challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic, the violent and destructive protest action of last week has thrown supply chain risk into stark contrast yet again, with businesses scrambling to secure the weak links, safeguard lives and property and reduce the risks to business continuity as far as possible.

“As a result of the pandemic, there has been a major consumer shift to online shopping with people clicking a button on their computer and getting goods delivered to their home. With so much of the supply chain happening behind the scenes and out of sight, consumers generally do not understand the complex and interlinked processes involved in getting that parcel or service delivered to their doorstep,” explains Tony Webster, of insurance brokerage and risk advisors, Aon South Africa. “It’s only when something goes wrong as it did last week, that there is a realisation of just how critical, yet fragile supply chains are, and how the domino effects of an incident reverberate throughout the entire value chain,” Webster adds.

Why it matters

With major highways and byways in and out of KZN blocked, it means that tens and thousands of fleet vehicles are unable to deliver goods across the country from South Africa’s busiest port, not to mention delays caused in Gauteng, the country’s economic hub. Goods will be late in reaching destinations, if at all, as transport operators run the risk of having trucks and cargo damaged, burnt or looted by rioting crowds.  

It is not uncommon for multiple events that disrupt supply chains to occur simultaneously.

“It’s quite possible that certain providers of products are going to be caught up in more than one event concurrently, as these events rarely wait for each other to finish and do not operate in a linear way,” says Webster.

In addition to the disruption of business operations, the impact of breakdowns in logistics systems raises another peril: reputational risk.

“Because consumers rarely separate the logistics from the provider of the product, the business involved could be hit twice: an immediate impact on revenue and profit, along with a loss of attraction in the future triggered by reputational damage. We’ve all been lulled into believing that everything is a click away and that’s fine if it works, but it only works when that specific supply chain is absolutely fluid and nothing goes wrong,” Webster explains.

It falls on the businesses whose products, essential components or raw materials are in the supply chain to evaluate and address these risks and put measures in place to mitigate them.

“Whatever businesses are producing or manufacturing, they will have a portfolio of products, and some of those products will be more valuable than others, either because they generate more income or because they service a market that’s growing for them or they are crucial for a key customer,” says Webster. “If they understand what’s driving the value of that business, they can then start to find the potential supply chain pressure points and risks around the end-to-end fulfilment of that product.”

Businesses should identify their most crucial supply chain ecosystem and the suppliers that are critical to that ecosystem. How a company addresses the risk becomes clearer once the points where a blockage or incident could negatively affect its ability to deliver products or services have been identified. Then they can ascertain their course of action, whether it is to hold more inventory, bring suppliers closer to home, diversify distribution points geographically, explore new logistics options or other alternatives.

“We’re seeing companies start to think more strategically around the business continuity element,” says Webster. “It’s all about how an organisation fulfils its most important client needs if a portion of stock is lost, which may mean relying on redundant supply, using a different route or other alternatives.”

Reshaping organisational response strategy

In addressing risks identified during the ongoing pandemic, many organisations made changes to their operating models, workforce strategies, products, portfolios, supply chains and more. The pandemic has created massive uncertainty, but also an unprecedented opportunity to learn and reshape parts of an organisation, building resilience for future shocks.

Concerns over geopolitical tension have been simmering in the background for a while and with domestic political unrest front and centre on South African soil at present, organisations are bound to find out just how resilient these changes are in the face of major disruption to their supply chains.

“It is at times like these where the insights and advice from experts in the field prove to be invaluable. Defining the fine line between what organisational risks can be handled internally and what aspects of that risk need to be covered externally, will provide a roadmap amid massive uncertainty,” concludes Webster.

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Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit receives EPC: sets the bar for Gauteng

In a new milestone of government’s Energy Performance Certificate regulations, the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit and International Convention Centre has received its EPC with a highly commendable rating of B, where A is the highest achievable rating and G the worst possible rating for buildings in South Africa. 

In alignment with the new regulations gazetted in December 2020, buildings in South Africa need to have their energy performance assessed by an accredited party, who will then issue an EPC which rates the building from A – G for energy efficiency. “To be compliant, the EPC must be displayed at the building entrance, and at least a D-rating must be achieved, to comply with the national Building Regulations,” explains Bredenkamp. The regulations apply to non-residential buildings with a net floor area of at least 2,000 m2 in the private sector (schools, malls, theatres, etc.), and 1,000 m2 for government buildings. For the purposes of the EPC, a building’s energy performance is measured in terms of kilowatt hours per square metre per annum (kWh/m2/a) of net floor area in accordance with the National EPC Standard (SANS 1544:2014).

“The facility is comprehensive, with the main building in the region of 14,500 m2. The energy requirements must be vast, so their rating is to be applauded,” comments Barry Bredenkamp, General Manager Energy Efficiency & Corporate Communications at the South African National Energy Development Institute, (SANEDI).

Once issued, an EPC must be renewed every five years, giving building owners the opportunity to improve their energy performance. Property owners and public facilities have until 7 December 2022 to ensure that they are compliant. As an agency for the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, SANEDI has been tasked with supporting the implementation of the regulations.

“SANEDI wants to help ensure compliance with the new regulations, so that building owners are not unnecessarily penalised. We are glad to see a prominent landmark such as the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit making EPC compliance a priority, and we hope to see many other buildings follow suit,” says Bredenkamp. He says that this will be good for the wider value chain, where economic activity will be stimulated, as building owners look at implementing more energy efficient systems and technologies.

Bluedust Engineering Solutions facilitated the EPC process on behalf of the owners of Kyalami. Dr. Janco Vermeulen and Dr. Frank Duvenhage, both experts in the energy field, ensured that the required data is collected and packaged correctly for the EPC process to be executed with minimal complications. “After having facilitated the first-ever EPC in South Africa, and also being allocated an entire building portfolio of 60 buildings for Stellenbosch University, we are happy to have been part of the drive to make Kyalami the first in its class to receive an EPC in South Africa,” said Dr. Duvenhage. Dr. Vermeulen added, “Kyalami is an iconic race track and venue, both locally and globally, and it is motivating to see such leaders in their industry to be early adopters of mandatory energy efficiency regulations.”

The Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit and International Convention Centre hosts many large international functions and events, both indoors and out.  Along with the main building, it has three adjacent bomas used for private functions and the management offices. The property also features a large (approximately 1,000 m2) workshop used for maintenance and tuning of Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini sports cars , which is off-limits to the public. To ensure uninterrupted service during load shedding, the centre has a large 800 kVA generator that services the main building.

JP Spangenberg, from Energy Management and Validation Services (EMVS), the SANAS accredited inspection body responsible for issuing the EPCs said, “EPCs have the potential to stimulate job creation with in excess of 100,000 buildings requiring assessments within the next 18 months. It was a pleasure working with the newly established EPC division of BlueDust Engineering Solutions, who facilitated the process for Kyalami.”

Toby Venter, CEO for the O T Venter Group of Companies, owners of the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit and International Convention Centre, concluded by saying; “We strive to always exceed expectations; environmental requirements are no different. We are proud to be the first conference and exhibition venue in South Africa to be awarded this energy efficiency grading certification”.

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There has been much debate around the removal of the local-content requirement on aluminium frames for photovoltaic panels by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic). The decision has caused questions to be asked of dtic but should also motivate the industry and government to reflect on what local content really means.

By Niveshen Govender, COO, SA Photovoltaic Industry Association

Looking back at the progress we have made since the 2011 launch of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), I can see so many positives.

Recognising that our own local industry was not able to fully realise the ambitious programme targets, government took an innovative stance that was designed to leverage foreign expertise but also provide South Africa with the opportunity to become a major manufacturer of componentry of renewable energy projects.

The local content requirements of the initial Bid Windows of the REIPPPP stipulated a certain percentage of local content and have resulted in several technology and component manufacturers establishing local manufacturing facilities.

According to the IPPO quarterly report, Black South Africans now hold 33% of the shares across the complete supply chain and local communities hold 9% equity in the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) of Bid Window 1 to Bid Window 4.

To date, the R58.5-billion local content spend reported by active IPPs is already 89% of the R66-billion local content expected. This is with 20 projects still in construction, and 71 of the 91 active projects having reached Commercial Operation Date (COD).

All this is to be lauded. However, as I reflect on progress, I must ask, what exactly is local when it comes to local content requirements?

As with everything in life, there is often a happy medium between opposing viewpoints. And this might be an appropriate time to reassess what it is we want from local content requirements as we embark on another decade of renewable energy procurement.

Our definition of local should of course be aligned with government objectives to increase domestic employment through increased industrialisation. But local content should also lead to an enhanced skills base that leads us to leverage foreign expertise to improve the knowledge of our local workers and enable them to add value across the solar PV value chain, not just through manufacturing and construction and in the process, hopefully develop globally competitive products.

Renewable energy provides us with an opportunity for industrialisation. SAPVIA is fully supportive of localisation that builds industry in South Africa in line with the national policy. The framework must support fair and transparent opportunities to both local manufacturers and foreign investors.

There are several solar PV system components that could be locally manufactured if the right conditions are put in place. Add the untapped potential across the African continent which we could look to manufacture for the region and not just South Africa.

All of this must be done responsibly and sustainably, with an eye on balancing the immediate needs of the sector while encouraging investors and incentivising viable local businesses and industry.

A refocus on what local content requirements can only be done through open consultation both nationally and internationally, working with private industry and government to ensure that we have empirical, data-based research as the cornerstone of any plan.

Local content calibrations should begin with an assessment of existing local capabilities and the market potential, while keeping an eye on the planned roll out of capacity – mainly, the IRP 2019.

Going forward, we are keen to continue working with the dtic and other organisations representing the renewables and manufacturing sectors to fully understand the local market potential, currently, and what it can grow into. Only through research and consultation will we be able to chart a forward trajectory that supports increased investment in industrialisation and fosters healthy local competition.

SAPVIA is working hard to create an enabling environment that supports manufacturers. We have reconstituted a Manufacturing Working Group, for both members and non-members, which has representation from various solar PV component manufacturers, suppliers and distributors, both local and international.

This Manufacturing Working Group, under the leadership of its own Chairperson, Patrick Govender and Vice Chairperson, Conrad Harmse, will focus on specific issues that relate to the development of local PV supply-chains, supporting the South African Renewable Energy Masterplan’s focus of identifying and maximising industrialisation and employment opportunities from the implementation of IRP 2019, under the leadership of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and dtic.

With the aim to contribute to a meaningful definition and position of local content as it relates to government-led procurement programmes, this Working Group elected officials (Frans-Willem Vermaak and Lourens Vermaak) to represent their collective interests at the South African Renewable Energy Master Plan (SAREM) level.

I would actively encourage as many players as possible from across the industry to come together through this Working Group to allow us to formulate an industry position that will help us tackle the challenges facing our industry.

Together we will map out the component manufacturing, supply, and distribution landscape in South Africa. Through a thorough review of policy, technical and lender requirements for local manufacturing, we will be better able to align with industry capability. We will further engage key policy makers to ensure an enabling environment for local manufacturers and support further investment into industrialisation.

A key ambition for any local content requirements must be to increase skills transfer and development and we will engage with the relevant SETAs to include and encourage youth participation and employment within the industry.

By interacting with other industry groups, our hope is to create a more collaborative sector that will lead to the increased rollout of solar PV in South Africa.

There is always a balance to be struck and compromises that sometimes must be made. However, by working together, we can make sure that future local content requirements really address the needs of the market and support long term policy objectives of both government and industry in the short, medium, and long-term.

  • Govender is the COO of the solar PV industry representative body, SAPVIA.
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G7: why major economies are delaying a break with the fossil fuel industry

The climate crisis is certain to be a hot topic at the G7 summit in Cornwall. While the leaders of the world’s richest countries agree in theory on the need to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, they remain faithful to a fossil fuel industry reluctant to substantively change its business model.

By George Ferns, lecturer in Management, Employment and Organisation, and Marcus Gomes, lecturer in Organisation Studies and Sustainability, Cardiff University

A recent report by the International Energy Agency, a typically conservative advisory body, argued for an immediate ban on new fossil fuel projects. But investments by oil, gas and coal companies into finding new sources continue, as does industry lobbying to undermine regulation. The environment ministers of the G7 countries committed to end funding for new overseas coal projects by the end of 2021. But 51% of their Covid-19 economic recovery funds – a total of US$189 billion (£133 billion) – paid between January 2020 and March 2021 were earmarked as financial aid for the fossil fuel industry. Worse, US$8 of every US$10 dedicated to non-renewable energy was paid with no conditions on these companies to reduce their emissions.

Why does it seem so hard for G7 leaders to match their words with action when it comes to the fossil fuel industry?

Betting on the long-term business case

Despite setbacks in volatile markets and oversupply risks, there is still a lot of money to be made from extracting, producing and selling hydrocarbons. Demand for coal has plateaued, but oil and gas demand is predicted to rise at least for the next 15 to 20 years, particularly in emerging economies such as China and India.

This puts G7 leaders in an awkward position. On the one hand, governments need to reboot economic growth after the pandemic slowdown – a profitable energy sector nourished by rising demand abroad is welcome, even though hydrocarbon extraction can be especially polluting in developing countries.

Governmental support for the industry in the form of subsidies or tax breaks artificially inflates the profitability of fossil fuels, in turn making renewables a less attractive investment. Put simply, it is less risky and more profitable to – at least for now – invest in oil and gas.

Carbon lock-in

The fossil fuel industry continues to shed public support, but it can rely on the fact that it’s embedded within a complex system of consumers, suppliers and contractors, politicians and the media. The cause-and-effect relations that define such an intricate system often produce unintended outcomes.

This interdependency is referred to as carbon lock-in. Economies have evolved in such a way that they perpetuate an energy landscape dominated by fossil fuels and plagued by an inability to radically change.

Not only does carbon lock-in result in inertia, it causes a tragedy of the commons-type problem. Big oil companies such as BP, Exxon Mobil and Shell are unlikely to make meaningful changes until the rest of the system acts in unison. National oil companies and smaller privately owned fossil fuel companies comprise the bulk of known fossil fuel reserves. But they often evade the spotlight and so can operate with more freedom. For a big oil company to make high-risk changes to its business model while others enjoy a free ride would be seen as a bad business decision.

Lock-in, as the name suggests, is very difficult to break. That said, G7 members are powerful nodes within this complex network. Strong leadership – such as divestment from fossil fuels and strong support for renewables – would cause reverberations throughout the whole system. But strong commitments coupled with counter-intuitive policies only send a signal that meaningful changes aren’t coming.

Identity crisis

People working in the fossil fuel industry often stay in the sector for their entire career – starting off as students of engineering or geoscience in departments funded by the industry, working all over the world and then heading into management positions.

The industry’s identity is predicated on certain values that have existed since the early days of hydrocarbon exploration, including, as one study found, a deep trust in the potential of science and technology to further humanity’s control over nature and to drive progress and economic development.

The ideological commitments of leaders in the fossil fuel industry will take a firm challenge from governments to overcome. It’s clear from financial decisions in the lead up to the summit that G7 leaders aren’t quite up to that test yet. But the meeting in Cornwall is their opportunity to signal that that cosy relationship is finally coming to an end.

Courtesy: The Conversation

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The WWF Nedbank Green Trust celebrates 30 years

The WWF Nedbank Green Trust celebrates 30 years of sparking change for people and the planet

The global Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the world and touched every life in many different and often very painful ways. However, the pandemic has also given us a new opportunity to reimagine a world where we focus on the needs of people and the planet and recreate systems of life, economics, education, health and employment that focus on the well-being of all people and not simply the self-centred and consumerist desires of the few.

“Never before has the slogan of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust – igniting new ways for people and nature to thrive – been more relevant than it is today,” said Augustine Morkel, manager of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust. New global research, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature, shows that public interest in, and concern for nature, has risen markedly (16%) in the past five years and continues to grow during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“People all over the world, particularly in emerging markets, are increasingly aware of the planetary crisis, and this is affecting their behaviour. In a clear validation of a growing trend, concerned individuals, non-profit organisations, businesses, governments, and society are acting on their concerns over nature loss in an assortment of ways. And we at the WWF Nedbank Green Trust are proud to have been catalysing change for the harmonious co-existence of people and planet for the last 30 years,” said Morkel.

The WWF Nedbank Green Trust, founded in 1990 by Nedbank and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF South Africa) funds innovative projects that have the potential to contribute to solving some of South Africa’s greatest societal and environmental challenges. From the beginning, the WWF Nedbank Green Trust achieved its greatest influence through partnerships.

“We work with partners and communities who champion the custodianship of our natural resources and direct their energy and efforts to key levers of change for South Africa’s future. Our prosperity depends on the coming together of governments, businesses, organisations and all people, and so, for the past 30 years, the Green Trust has worked to create and cement these interconnected relationships,” said Morkel.

This 30-year partnership has raised more than R350 million for the funding of approximately 300 major conservation projects. You can help the WWF Nedbank Green Trust by supporting the Nedbank Green Affinity Programme, which is aimed at supporting nature conservation projects through community-based programmes and is key in looking after natural resources such as our oceans, wildlife, freshwater, climate and more.

“Nedbank is proud to use its financial expertise to do good for individuals, families, businesses and society. We pride ourselves as the ‘green and caring’ bank, committed in our sustainability efforts to make a lasting difference in society. Through our partnership with the WWF-SA, we have seen the benefits of working with ordinary South Africans who share the same vision. The past 30 years have proven that by opening the doors of conservation and making it inclusive, we can all contribute to a better environment through job creation, food security and economic growth,” said Tobie Badenhorst, Head: Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank.

Through the Nedbank Green Affinity Programme, South Africans are encouraged to contribute to nature conservation at no cost to them. “Nedbank has created a programme that makes it easy for anyone to contribute and what is great about it is that your contribution comes at no cost. As a bank that cares about nature conservation, it is our duty to lead the way and encourage everyone from individuals to corporates, urban and rural communities to support the environment. As we celebrate 30 years of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, we hope to inspire all South Africans to join the Nedbank Green Affinity Programme and make the world a better place,” Badenhorst said.

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Applying circular initiative to e-waste solutions

In order to tackle South Africa’s rising e-waste challenge, key local and international stakeholders have joined forces to launch an ambitious project which is set to bring about economic opportunities while ensuring workable and safe solutions for the management of e-waste.

Rooted in the global Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) programme (2020 – 2023), the local chapter of the SRI project aims to build capacity for sustainable e-waste recycling, by supporting related national initiatives and implementing pilot ventures. The SRI project in South Africa involves various stakeholders including The Appliance Bank (TAB), a training programme for unemployed men that gives them the technical skills needed to repair damaged and customer- returned small appliances.

In support of the circular economy, TAB prevents damaged appliances from being disposed of in landfills.

Job creator assisting in training

TAB came onboard to create training materials which will support the collaboration and help scale the intended impact of the SRI project in South Africa. The pilot project is kicking off in iLembe, KwaZulu-Natal which will see TAB working with waste pickers and providing technical appliance repair training.

Commenting on the initiative Tracey Gilmore, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of TAB says, “We are extremely excited to be onboard and honoured that the SRI team reached out to us to join the conversation and be part of this wonderful initiative. South Africa can only benefit from projects like the SRI that will create a more inclusive economy and contribute to sustainable growth.”

Bringing new opportunities for sustainable economic growth

The SRI project South Africa is part of the global SRI programme, with participation of Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, Colombia and Peru. SRI aims at building capacity for sustainable e-waste recycling by supporting national initiatives and implementing pilot projects. The first phase of the SRI programme was implemented between 2013 – 2018 and is now in its second phase (2019 – 2023). The overall development objective of the SRI programme (Phase 2) is to create favourable framework conditions, which enables the development of a sustainable recycling industry for e-waste and any related waste streams.

In all its activities, the SRI programme strives for an inclusive approach of enabling beneficial economic conditions for both the formal industry stakeholders and the informal sector. Therefore, the programme leverages steps and strategies leading to both a resource preserving circular economy transition and contributing to actions on climate change mitigation through the recovery and reintegration of secondary raw materials into industrial processes.

The SRI programme is funded by the Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO) and is implemented by the Institute for Materials Science & Technology (Empa) and the World Resources Forum (WRF).

Key outcomes and deliverables envisaged for South Africa

The national SRI project team aims to develop an e-waste policy (on national and local level), define minimum working conditions for the formal e-waste value chain partners, and facilitate strategic informal sector integration. It will also assist with the development of both auditing skills and capacity to assess e-waste value chain operators and oversee the development of a national e-waste learner curriculum.

The pilot project in iLembe will see the team work with the informal waste sector to collect e-waste via a newly developed app.

South Africa among the most guilty of e-waste pollution on African continent

E-waste is the fastest-growing domestic waste stream in the world. According to the e-Waste Association of South Africa (eWasa), each individual in South Africa generates about 6.2kg of e-waste and the Department of Environmental Affairs estimates an annual national tally of 360 000 tonnes. A technology economy study in 2014 revealed that more recycling of e-waste could bring notable benefits to South Africa. If the country manages to increase its recovery for recycling rates (currently hovering around 10%) up to 30%, it will yield an additional 32 million Rands per year injection into the weak South African economy.

One man’s waste is another man’s gold

TAB, which forms part of the award-winning non-profit organisation, The Clothing Bank (TCB), provides a two-year training programme for unemployed men to establish their own sustainable businesses. The men, most of whom are fathers, repair the donated household appliances and sell them for a profit in their communities.

Last year, TAB had 89 active businessmen who sold goods for a profit of R5,4 million and around 22 000 units / e-waste materials were recycled. Piloted in 2015 as a result of a strategic partnership with The Clicks Group, TAB has grown to have operations in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.

TAB provides beneficiaries with extensive financial, business and life-skills training, as well as coaching and mentoring to help them on their journey to self-determination. In 2018, the TAB programme formalised its technical training and developed a comprehensive modular-based curriculum covering all aspects related to electricity and appliance repair. “Apart from all the research learnings we will obtain from the SRI project, it provides an essential platform to build on our programme through improving our training material, continuing our contribution to improving our country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and aiding job creation,” concludes Gilmore.


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Mineral Resources and Energy on new bidders for the RMIPPP Programme

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy announces the appointment of three additional preferred bidders under the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement (RMIPPP) Programme following the completion of value for money negotiations, as indicated by the Minister during the announcement of the other 8 Preferred Bidders on 18th March 2021.

The additional Preferred Bidders announced by the Department are as follows:

Project NameEvaluation Price (ZAR)Contracted Capacity (MW)Location(Province)TechnologyJobs Years to be created for RSA Citizens
Scatec Kenhardt 21 884.6150.00Northern CapeSolar Photovoltaic and Battery StorageConstruction – 605 Operations – 1 051
Scatec Kenhardt 11 884.6450.00Northern CapeSolar Photovoltaic and Battery StorageConstruction – 605 Operations – 1 051
Scatec Kenhardt 31 884.5650.00Northern CapeSolar Photovoltaic and Battery StorageConstruction – 605 Operations – 1 051

The three additional preferred bidder projects will add a total of 150MW to the national grid, bringing the total megawatts procured under the RMIPPPP to 1995.76MW. These projects will be required to achieve Financial Close by the end of September 2021.

The RMIPPPP bid window was released to the market in August 2020, following the promulgation of the Ministerial Determination of 2 000MW, with concurrence from NERSA. The main objective of the bid window is to meet the supply gap indicated in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2019), and reduce the extensive utilisation of expensive diesel-based peaking electrical generators in the medium to long term. The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the RMIPPPP allowed for a portfolio approach whereby a developer could bid on a portfolio of facilities, which will constitute one project. This approach has attracted a combination of technologies and facilities at the same or different geographical locations.


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Solving SA’s energy crisis: the role of industry collaboration and innovation

Companies across South Africa have stepped up their corporate innovation capabilities forward, in line with government’s call to find urgent solutions to the country’s energy crisis.

Some of the clear-cut solutions available to South Africa lie in the conversion of waste and refuse into energy; property portfolios committing to green, energy-efficient buildings; land-use sustainability and reduced plastic in the packaging in the production of food, as some key examples.

Creating a circular economy

For its part, the government is committed to redirecting waste from landfills and in support of this, new laws have been legislated and regulations are being rolled out, all aimed at cleaning up South Africa and reducing the negative environmental as well as the health impacts caused by waste.

Overviewing innovations in the waste-to-energy space, Kate Stubbs, Marketing Director at Interwaste explains the many unutilised opportunities for alternative energy creation – the easiest lying in our ability to reuse and repurpose mounting waste to help with the much-needed energy supply. “Many businesses are already moving towards a zero waste to landfill target and examining ways in which they can effectively repurpose through the development of some of the most advanced technology to ensure waste-to-energy can be realised.”

Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) was pioneered by Interwaste locally. “We have been successful in taking a solid fuel source, which is recovered through the shredding and bailing of certain pre-sorted dry industrial non-recyclable waste – and creating a fuel source that is similar to A-grade coal. This represents a strong alternative to fossil fuel use. This alternative fuel can be used within sole/co-feeding plants and even replace conventional fuels such as coal in production plants for power, steam and heat generation or any other suitable combustion installations,” says Stubbs.

She explains that the Circular Economy model offers opportunities to deliver sustainable and inclusive economic growth, combining job opportunities with positive environmental practices. “By stripping out all unnecessary waste materials, reducing the consumption of energy and raw materials and allowing these materials, energy, and resources to be ‘fed’ back into the cycle, I believe there is an opportunity here for companies to optimise their own waste streams for use in other industries.”

Property space has a critical role to play

Property owners can do much to reduce energy consumption. With a focus on minimising its environmental footprint, Liberty Two Degrees (L2D), a precinct focused, retail-centred REIT, has done exactly that and has obtained certification by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) on its entire retail portfolio.

“The retail property sector plays a considerable role in reducing carbon footprint, combating plastic waste, and more importantly saving energy in the process through its support of the circular economy model,” says Jonathan Sinden, Chief Operations Officer of L2D. “Our focus is placed on ensuring that buildings’ ongoing operations and management are resource-efficient and environmentally responsible, with long-term sustainability goals embedded in day-to-day operational policies and plans.”

L2D has a commitment to achieving its sustainability targets of net zero waste this year (2021), net zero water by 2025 and net zero energy by 2030, and has made substantial inroads notwithstanding the pandemic, as demonstrated by its Green Star Existing Building Performance (EBP) ratings on all buildings.

Beyond property, the logistics and supply chain industry is a critical area for greener innovation.

Fully aligned with addressing the energy crisis is the journey by KFC South Africa to eliminate non-recoverable or non-reusable plastic-based packaging by 2025.

Siya Ngcukana, Chief Supply Chain Officer at KFC Africa says that the brand is fully conscious of its impact on the environment and remains committed to ensuring that all-natural resources are managed responsibly throughout the end-to-end supply chain. Our recent switch from plastic straws and stirrers to paper straws and wooden stirrers, resulted in a reduction of approximately 70 tons of non-degradable plastic annually – about 65-million straws and 4-million stirrers.

“Together with supply partners in our distribution, we are exploring converting used cooking oil from our restaurants into bio-diesel to enable partial fuel replacement. This would reduce our demand for normal diesel and the associated carbon footprint.”

“The industry is focused on the next generation of supply chains resulting from opportunities presented by new energy-efficient technologies and heightened customer requirements.”

“A key supply chain innovation in which the QSR industry can further reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions is by being Proudly South African – where majority of suppliers they make use of are local businesses. This can have a beneficial impact on energy consumption and transport-derived carbon emissions. To this end, a large portion of our consumer facing packaging portfolio makes use of a local recycled board, which is key in our sustainability efforts,” adds Ngcukana.

As technology and innovation increases, many more opportunities will undoubtedly be unlocked to combat the energy challenges faced in South Africa.

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Rise in construction and building material sales bodes well for M&E sector

The uptick in sales of construction and building materials, amid increased construction activity, is encouraging and bodes well for the Metals and Engineering (M&E) sector, attests the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA).

Wholesale trade sales data released by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) recently showed an increase in sales of 10.6% in March 2021, compared with March 2020, while month-on-month wholesale trade sales decreased by 1.6% in March 2021, when compared with February. In the construction and building materials category, sales increased from R10.8-billion in February 2021 to R12.3-billion in March 2021, with year-on-year growth of 38.6% in March 2021.

The increase in the sale of construction and building material was driven mainly by the increase in demand of building supplies such in basic steel products, cement and bricks, as construction activity ramps up amid relaxed Covid-19 regulations. The increase in M&E production sales, which improved significantly from R70-billion in February 20201 to R79-billion in March 2021 also supports the trend.

Commenting on the data, SEIFSA Chief Economist Chifipa Mhango said the increase in construction and building material is positive news for the M&E sector as it indicates increased activity, which will continue to drive demand for the sector’s products. He noted that the Government’s increased focus on localisation will help sustain this improvement.

“As we try to rebuild our economy by being more inward-looking to drive the local manufacturing capacity of, among other things, construction and building material, the government needs to ensure that State entities comply with local content procurement requirements to drive demand, protect and create jobs,” Mhango said.

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Minister Barbara Creecy: World Circular Economy Forum and Climate, African Circular Economy Alliance

Address by Minister Barbara Creecy, Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Republic of South Africa – World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) + Climate, African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA)

Today is a unique opportunity to examine the ways in which circular economy initiatives are being mainstreamed and integrated throughout the African continent, as well as discussing the barriers, challenges and further steps to be taken in global and interregional cooperation.

The economies of the African continent have been severely affected by the global covid 19 pandemic and as we recover, we will have to use all  the innovative tools at our disposal in order to build back better. One of the important ways in which we can do this is by fully integrating circular economy initiatives into our nations’ recovery plans.

Ladies and gentlemen

At a country level, the circular economy is consistent with South Africa’s constitution, and our National Development plan both of which provide for environmental protection and sustainable use of our country’s natural resources.

Our country’s post-covid 19 Reconstruction and Recovery Plan includes a green economy component, which promotes waste recycling, renewable energy generation, revitalizing our ecotourism and forestry sectors; and retrofitting government buildings to improve climate resilience and save on water and energy consumption.

Last year, our government approved a revised National Waste Management Strategy which includes the implementation of circular economy practices. One of the main pillars of the strategy is waste minimization and the diversion of forty percent of waste from landfills within five years.

In consultation with industry and other role-players, we have published the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations for the packaging, electronics and lighting sectors, for implementation, starting on the 5th May this year.  These regulations will establish producer responsibility schemes to lead in the reclaiming and recycling of waste in these three significant sectors.

A central focus of all our efforts has been to decrease plastic waste and enhance the recycling of plastics. This is in line with our commitment to reducing plastic waste in the environment and preventing this dangerous pollutant from entering our rivers and oceans.

Efforts here have spanned across the retail and fast food sector where we have seen significant initiatives by the Consumer Goods Council to eliminate single use plastics, promote changes in product design to facilitate recycling; and invest in R and D to promote new products made from plastic recyclate.

Government is also in the process of amending our plastic bag regulations. As a result, from the first of January this year, all plastic bags must be made of a minimum of 50% post-recyclate material, 75% recycled materials from the start of 2025, and must be comprised of 100% post-consumer recyclate by 2027.

These targets will be met by ensuring that post-consumer recyclate is made up of household, industrial and commercial waste diverted from landfills, thus further entrenching circularity in waste management and product development.

A key departure from the previous waste management strategy is the strategic shift to accommodate waste reclaimers and the informal sector, by addressing their role in the circular economy.

In many towns and cities in South Africa, waste reclaimers are important actors in diverting recyclable material from landfill. Investment here will be focused on the economies associated with transporting of recyclables to waste processing facilities, separation at source, and addressing the skills gaps within the sector. Central to our efforts is a commitment to ensuring we transition reclaimers from a precarious hand to mouth existence, to sustainable and dignified livelihoods.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to reflect, in closing, on circular economy initiatives on the continent.

The implementation of the Africa Green Stimulus Programme (AGSP) is at the forefront of the continent’s response to the economic downturn caused by the covid 19 pandemic. Central to this Programme are principles of the circular economy.

Africa is the first region to establish a regional forum for circular economy implementation. This is a significant development for a continent with a growing population and a large informal business sector.

There is a very high level of cooperation amongst the members of the ACEA, which is further strengthened by the fact that they are also members of African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) and members of the African Union.

Consequently, for both the AMCEN and the AU, the circular economy is high on the agenda. The first expert meeting on circular economy was held last year and work on the development of the AU Action Plan for Circular Economy has already begun.

South Africa and other members of the ACEA are also participants in a number of multilateral environmental agreements relating to the transboundary movement of waste and protection for the continent’s people from dumping of hazardous materials.

At a continental level, we want to see recycling growing  not only for effective waste management and resource use, but also  to help us in addressing our challenges relating to unemployment and economic recovery. Incorporating informal economy actors such as waste reclaimers and recyclers is crucial, particularly in areas where there is limited government waste management capacity.

However it is important to end by stressing that circularity cannot be successfully integrated into our economies without enhanced access to massively scaled-up support , investment and capacity building from developed nations. Collaboration between developed and developing countries is the only way in which we will be able to make meaningful interventions in the implementation of the circular economy.

Allow me to thank our important partners who are already taking up this challenge including the World Economy Forum (WEF), Partnership for Accelerating Circular Economy (PACE), African Circular Economy Network (ACEN), Government of Finland, African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Global Environment Facility (GEF), European Union (EU), amongst others.

This spirit of collaboration and mutual support is necessary, and will be the key to the ways in which African nations navigate the post-covid 19 landscape.

I thank you.

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