Sandton-Apartments reduces environmental impact with waste to landfill programme

What will you do with your Earth Day this year? @Sandton-Apartments remains committed to the waste management programme which they embarked upon in early 2022. The environmentally-aware programme aims to reduce the environmental impact of the building by diverting waste away from landfills. The programme, which has been implemented by Smart Waste, was implemented at the multi-use building to achieve its sustainability goals and reduce its carbon footprint.

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Looking at organic waste market growth indicators

When we start to look at the food and organic waste stream as a secondary resource that has economic value, we change our perception of this waste type from something burdensome that will be expensive to landfill to something that is economical. When we start to consider that food and organic waste is actually recyclable, we can see that there is an entire economic value chain for this waste stream. The impending organic waste landfill ban in the Western Cape in 2027 is also accelerating the development of the organic waste secondary market and with this development, more businesses are implementing ways to extract value from their organic waste stream.

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Tips to meet your waste management targets

Waste management and waste reporting is an important part of corporate sustainability. Reporting on your waste management performance is a key element that shareholders and investors look at. It is also a JSE integrated reporting standard. To be able to report on your waste management performance, the first step is to draft and implement a waste management strategy with waste reduction and diversion targets. There is no one-size fits all waste management strategy; establishing targets is dependent on the nature of waste streams, volumes, recycling and disposal infrastructure.

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Dedicated cruise deepens offshore research capacity in South Africa 

History has been made during a research expedition currently underway involving a rich representation of young researchers. This cruise is a prologue to the ongoing, collective effort of a number of institutions across the country that seek to develop the capacity of marine researchers, both established and emerging, to better serve the common goals of safeguarding and improving the social and natural systems of South Africa’s oceans. One Ocean Hub (OOH) is the sole funder of this expedition and the cruise contributes to their core Capacity Strengthening objective for deep-sea research and management in South Africa

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Detrimental effects of rolling blackouts on SA’s plastics industry

With the seemingly endless challenges that South Africa and its people face, the driving force behind these challenges seems to be the notorious rolling blackouts that have plagued our country for more than a decade. From manufacturing and production, to retail and education, not a single industry is being left unscathed and unaffected.

Plastics SA Executive Director Anton Hanekom says, the local plastics industry is no exception when it comes to experiencing the negative impact of relentless interruptions in power supply. “Our industry is especially exposed when it comes to loadshedding due to the fact that the processing and production of plastics and plastic products are done primarily through thermal processing. This means that high temperatures must be maintained throughout the manufacturing process. However, without power, these high temperatures cannot be effectively reached and maintained, nor is there enough time between scheduled power outages for the machines used to reach the required temperature for the processes to be restarted,” Hanekom explains.

Furthermore, when producing and manufacturing large quantities of polymer materials, the extrusion process is required, in which the materials are enriched with additives and melted in order for production to be completed successfully. This entire process comes to a halt when manufacturers experience power outages. While restarting the production process may appear simple, there are serious consequences when machines shut down unexpectedly for extended periods of time.

“During the extrusion or melting process, once the machine shuts down for a three- to four-hour loadshedding stint, the materials that were being processed solidify in the machine. This means that the time required to remove the solidified materials, clear the machine, and prepare to restart the process from scratch is added to the overall production time. A significant amount of time and material is wasted, which has a knock-on effect on operating costs, staffing, and production. Revenues are being eroded and thousands of jobs are being threatened in an industry that is a priority sector and contributes approximately 17 percent of the country’s manufacturing GDP,” Hanekom explains.

Ripple effects felt by other industries

Plastics are ubiquitous in our lives and can be found in almost every aspect. As a result, plastic manufacturing and use serve as the foundation for other products. When the plastics industry faces such severe challenges, it quickly snowballs and affects other closely related and critical industries, such as the packaging sector, which accounts for half of total plastic polymer consumption in South Africa, followed by the building and construction sector.

“Our country has a number of major packaging producers. However, the challenges extend beyond the financial bottom line of these producers, as effective packaging is important to avoid food waste, extend the shelf life and prevent spoilage or breakage of certain products. We need to start talking about “packaging security” in the same breath as food security. When plastics packaging production suffers, it leads to increased transportation costs, food waste and inflation,” Hanekom explains.

Impact of loadshedding on the recycling of plastics

During the previous reporting period, the country’s plastics manufacturing and recycling industries showed a welcome recovery from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, indicating a 4.7% growth rate in 2021. Unfortunately, loadshedding threatens to undo these gains and efforts to recoup the industry.

“The recycling process is in essence also an extrusion process based on thermo-processing principles.  Profit margins in this industry are already extremely marginal. Add to that rising transportation costs and the need to invest in alternative energy sources such as generators or solar power to stay operational, and our recyclers are being brought to their knees when left in the dark for up to six hours at a time,” Hanekom emphasizes. Smaller entrepreneurial companies doing collection and baling do not have the funds for alternative energy sources and this causes further bottlenecks in the supply of recyclables.

Whilst relying on generators for private use can be effective to keep homes operational and the lights on until loadshedding ends, it does not pose an effective long-term solution for large companies that mass produce plastic products. Owing to the high cost of diesel, manufacturers find themselves paying double the tax when they use generators. In 2000 Government started implementing a diesel refund system to provide full or partial relief from the general fuel levy and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) levy to primary sectors such as agriculture. The refund system is in place for the farming, forestry, fishing and mining sectors. However, during the last budget speech, in light of the electricity crisis, a similar refund on the RAF levy for diesel used in the manufacturing process, such as for generators, has been extended to the manufacturers of foodstuffs. We believe this refund must be extended, to all manufacturing sectors using generators, to bring much needed relief from the general fuel levy and RAF levy.

The importance of becoming self-reliant

With the country’s power utility predicting at least two more years of loadshedding on the horizon, the plastics industry cannot afford to wait on the government to solve its problems. Hanekom says that, as the representative body of the plastics industry, Plastics SA strongly advises plastic producers to find practical and innovative ways of getting around the power supply issues they face. Load curtailment is another alternative solution, for those companies which gets their electricity directly from Eskom and where arrangements exist whereby Eskom can ask energy users to curtail or reduce their power usage up to a certain percentage of the load.

If no other economically viable solutions can be found, at least bargain for longer periods.  The industry would welcome loadshedding cycles of 12 hours or more.  In other words, switch the supply off for 12 hours but then allow the manufacturers and recyclers to run continuously for 7 days.  The stop-start cycles are not the solution for thermo-processing technologies.

“As part of government’s Industrial Policy Re-imagined, a Plastics Industry Master Plan is being developed to put the industry on a growth trajectory. This plan is already three years in the making and sees an active collaboration between industry, labour and government to develop a vision for the industry, identify blockages and constraints, and develop a set of key actions that need to be taken forward over the short and medium term. We are tapping into these resources and partnerships to try and find affordable and workable energy solutions to ensure our industry remains competitive. Whether these solutions involve going off the grid, feeding power back into the grid, or using renewable energy, a viable solution needs to be found and implemented as a matter of urgency if we hope to see any form of success in the future,” Hanekom concludes.

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SA Plastics Pact demonstrates measurable impact

Commitment of South African Plastics Pact members leads to 34.7 million fewer problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging items on the market in 2021 – this and more revealed in its latest annual report.

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Organic waste management industry trends to look out for in 2023

Last year the organic waste management sector saw a significant amount of development in alternative waste treatment (AWT) methods and technology that was responsible for diverting more of this waste stream from landfill. This created a more secondary resource supply and a stronger secondary resource economy. We saw this with the compost and biogas markets. In 2023 we will see a continuation of the growth of the secondary resource market for organic waste.

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Two South African entrepreneurs introducing impactful solutions through waste recycling

Two small businesses in the waste management sector are making money and saving the environment.

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“A World Without Waste – No better time to clean up your hood”

The partnership between Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages and The Beach Co-op has seen positive results in cleaning up various stretches of coastline this year. These included Monwabisi, Sunset Beach and the Robben Island coastline.

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A year in review: What happened in organic waste management this year

Every year there seems to be more emphasis placed on addressing waste as a resource and creating a circular economy with different waste streams. With food and organic waste, it was no different. More attention on a national, regional and local level was given to different alternative waste treatment (AWT) technologies and processes that divert organic waste and process it into a resource. These were the milestones that we, as an industry, saw in 2022:

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