Durban businesses collaborate on a solution to hazardous illegal dumping in uMngeni River
Tons of waste are regularly dumped into Durban’s Umgeni River every year, impacting the water quality and posing health threats to wildlife, fisherfolk, paddlers and others who use the river daily. A major contributor to this excessive waste is illegal dumping, a problem that a group of concerned stakeholders are addressing as part of World Clean-up and International Coastal Clean-Up campaigns in September.Continue reading View more
Minister Barbara Creecy lays claim to waste reclaimers
26 Aug 2022
Minister Creecy officiates at handover of biodegradation testing and research laboratory at the council for scientific and industrial research
“Good morning and thank you for the invitation to be part of this auspicious occasion which celebrates two important milestones in our quest for more sustainable solutions to Waste Management namely: support for Waste Reclaimers who are the cornerstone of waste recycling in our country; and new laboratory equipment to assist us in testing and ensuring verifiable standards for bio-plastics.
Inadequate waste management poses a significant threat to our environment, causing pollution to soil and ground water and undermining ecosystem functions and services. Marine plastic waste is a global problem that threatens biodiversity and wildlife. Marine plastic litter originates mostly on land from single-use plastics. When these products and packaging are not properly disposed of, they leak into the environment.
To improve waste management in South Africa we have to progressively increase the number of households with access to weekly waste collection; improve landfill compliance and look to the future of waste disposal beyond landfilling. In this regard the reduction and recycling of waste plays and important role.
Government is aiming to divert forty percent of waste from landfill within 5 years through reuse, recycling, recovery and alternative waste treatment. We aim to reduce the current amount of waste by about twenty five percent over the same period and ensure a further twenty percent of waste is reused in the economic value chain.
Government has over the past year introduced Extended Producer Responsibility schemes for the packaging, eWaste and lighting sectors. We are currently consulting on extending these schemes for batteries, pesticides and lubricant oils.
Regulations for organic waste treatment, as well as the composting of organic waste, were published earlier this year for implementation. This will help ensure that organic waste, including food waste, is diverted from landfills and used in composting and other sustainable technologies
Consumers are increasing conscious of the impact of their choices on the environment and consequently, constantly in search of products that are more environmentally friendly.
At present, bio-plastics represent less than one percent of plastics produced annually. However, rising demand, and an increase in more sophisticated applications means production capacity is set to increase. Bioplastic alternatives exist for many current plastic products, and we expect consumer choice to drive their mainstreaming and increased uptake over time.
And so regulators are challenged to ensure that the certification systems for these products protect both consumers and the environment. The Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations include a transitional timeframe which affords industry time to prepare for the enforcement of environmental labelling obligations. So that producers can provide assurance in accordance with approved SABS standards, laboratory facilities with necessary equipment are much needed.
The services that will be on offer through today’s donation will broaden transparency and ensure product claims can be tested in accordance with environmental labelling standards. At the same time, the South African Bureau of Standards is currently in the process of developing local standards for biodegradable packaging.
It is estimated that there are between sixty and ninety thousand informal waste reclaimers working at the heart of South Africa’s recycling economy, recovering mostly paper and packaging waste from households and businesses.
Data published by the packaging sector prior to the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations coming into effect, estimated that waste reclaimers collect 80-90% of post-consumer paper and packaging for recycling.
Government, industry and civil society recognise the important role waste reclaimers play in the diversion of valuable resources away from landfill and the need to formalise and protect these livelihoods and the circular economy they promote.
A notable feature of the agreement between UNIDO, the Government of South Africa and the Government of Japan, is the recognition of the informal sector’s role in waste management and the critical link they provide between households and recycling enterprises.
I am excited that the CSIR plans to partner with waste reclaimer organisations to further integrate them into circular economy waste streams. The planned training and awareness programmes will make a great contribution to the formalization of this often under recognised and under-valued sector.
Actors in the informal sector need to educated on the differences between recyclable and compostable material, as well as the best practice with regards to identifying, collecting and storing the different materials.
Allow me to conclude by saluting our partners Unido, the government of Japan and our sister Department of Science and Technology for this important initiative that does so much to promote a more sustainable approach to waste management. Today you demonstrate your commitment to making our world a better place: we all know there is no Planet B!
I thank you!”View more
Clever ways to make the most of your leftovers
Leftovers are an important part of every busy household – and for good reason. They’re a great way to save food from going to waste, plus they’re an excellent option if you’re looking to save a little time and money. But reheating food can be a dangerous game to play. And, if done incorrectly, it can lead to wasted taste and nasty side-effects. The good news, however, is that there are safe ways to reheat and revive your leftovers that will give your food a tasty second chance.Continue reading View more
How much do we waste? A data-driven guide to waste and landfills
Waste is a global issue. From electronic devices to unused food, a lot of what is thrown away ends up in a landfill. While concerted efforts are being made across the globe to incorporate recycling initiatives, these endeavors can quickly go astray when rubbish isn’t handled with the correct care and attention.
This comprehensive guide takes a closer look at the question posed in the headline: how much do we waste? The article also details where it ends up, how recycling and other solutions can help with the problem, and how businesses can manage waste. With how waste continues to mount up, tacking the problem head-on is crucial – otherwise, the environmental impact it provokes will have further consequences for the planet.
How Much Do We Throw Away?
To get a greater idea about waste and the concern it poses, it’s essential to take a closer look at just how much is thrown away. There are many different forms of waste, with some of the main culprits including:
· Electronic devices
· Hazardous materials
· Discarded food
· Paper and paperboard
If this waste isn’t correctly managed, there’s ultimately only one destination it will end up: a landfill. Add in factors such as population growth, the continued demand for disposable products, and the short shelf life for everything from smartphones to sneakers, and there are many reasons why waste continues to build at an alarming rate.
The following statistics help to illustrate the worrying picture.
Whether you’re analysing global figures or centering on the United States, the situation is far from healthy – and that’s putting it mildly. Waste is a massive issue, and the following statistics demonstrate why this is the case.
· Of that waste, 1.3 billion tonnes is made up of food. That’s over three trillion meals each year wasted, approximately one-third of all food generated for human consumption.
· At least 33% of the planet’s waste is not managed in an environmentally safe way. That’s only a conservative figure, which means the percentage could ultimately be even more frightening.
· The average daily waste per person averages 0.74 kilograms worldwide. However, the range for this can vary drastically depending on location. This goes from 0.11 kilograms to 4.54 kilograms.
· By 2050, it is expected that global waste will grow to 3.40 billion. This growth is more than twice the population growth during the same time period.
· Annually, it is estimated the world’s oceans are polluted by 10 million metric tons of plastic.
· 12% of the world’s trash comes from America. This is despite the country only making up 4% of the globe’s population.
· In 2018, America was responsible for producing 292.4 million tons of municipal solid waste. That’s almost 5 pounds per person, per day.
· The waste management market in North America was valued at $208 billion in 2019. The U.S. accounts for most of the market.
· Each year, estimates suggest the U.S. produces around 103 million tons of food waste.
· Due to household leaks, the average U.S. family can waste 180 gallons of water each week, or 9,400 gallons per year. That’s the same amount of water required to wash over 300 laundry loads. On a nationwide scale, household leaks can lead to almost 900 billion gallons of water being wasted annually.
· America currently has a recycling and composting rate of 32.1%.
· 25 million plastic bottles are thrown away each hour in America.
Where Does Our Waste Go?
In general, there are two places where our waste ends up: in a landfill or recycling. The latter is obviously the aim, especially with the environmental benefits and government incentives on the table. However, recycling is not always an option. Plus, even when it is an option, this doesn’t mean organizations will take the necessary steps to make it a reality. In these situations, waste goes to the landfill.
If you operate a standard modern business, here are some stats to consider about the type of waste produced – and where it ends up:
· Every year, 500 coffee cups are used by the average office worker. These are single-use cups, meaning they are all sent to landfills.
· 20 companies are responsible for producing over half of the globe’s single-use plastic. All of this eventually goes to landfills.
· The standard office worker generates approximately two pounds of paper and paperboard waste each day. They also use around 10,000 sheets of copy paper annually.
· Globally, more than 50 million metric tons of electronic waste were generated in 2019. This is expected to rise by a further 20 million metric tons over the coming decade.
· At present, only about 20% of electronic waste is recycled on a global scale.
In 2018, approximately 146.1 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) ended up being landfilled in the U.S. While this isn’t a welcome figure, there has been a steady – if slow – improvement over landfill numbers compared to the amount of waste produced. In 1960, 94% of generated waste was landfilled. In 2018, this percentage decreased significantly to 50%.
How it works
Landfills have come a long way since they were simply large open dumps for waste to be tossed into. These days, sanitary landfills exist, which help prevent numerous problems that traditional landfills caused – such as toxic chemicals and gases contaminating the surrounding soil, groundwater, and air. By separating waste via a system of layers, sanitary landfills are designed with the intention for waste to decompose safely. Although methane can still be produced, most sanitary landfills will collect this gas, keep it out of the earth’s atmosphere, and utilize it to produce electricity.
The deepest spot in a sanitary landfill can be found 500 feet into the ground. The bottom will typically feature dense clay alongside a plastic liner to stop liquids from seeping through. Certain wastes generate liquid as they decompose, so a drainage system is used to carry contaminants to a treatment facility. As mentioned above, a modern landfill will also incorporate a gas collection system for the produced methane.
When trash is delivered to a landfill, it is compacted so it takes up less room. A layer of dirt is also used to cover new trash, helping to deter pests and contain odors.
The majority of waste can be recycled. In fact, according to research conducted by the EPA, it is estimated 75% of the U.S. waste stream is recyclable. Sadly, only about 30% of this waste is actually recycled. Going on a global scale, it is said that 91% of plastic still isn’t recycled, while the recycling rate for PET bottles in America sits at a lowly 30%.
The good news is that attitudes are slowly changing. Recycling is becoming more and more prevalent, and this shouldn’t be a surprise based on the numerous benefits gained. As an example, in 2019, the U.S. took 25 million tons of combustible MSW and converted it into approximately 13 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.
When you consider how recyclable certain materials are – 95% of textiles can be potentially recycled or reused, for instance – a lot of waste can be diverted from going to landfills, and instead be repurposed in ways that are more advantageous to the environment.
How it works
The process first begins by collecting recyclable materials. For a business to do this effectively, it will have its own system in place for collecting, processing, and storing suitable recyclables. This will include dedicated containers for specific materials, along with a baler to compact recyclables for easy storage and transport.
When the materials end up at a recycling center, they are sorted by type. Specialist machinery will separate paper from plastic, metals from cardboard, etc. Workers at the center will also separate soiled recyclables from clean ones. If a recyclable is soiled, it will either be cleaned or thrown away if deemed unusable.
Once a recycling center has processed and broken down the recyclables into raw materials, they can then be used again to create new products. The center will sell the recycled goods to manufacturers.
New waste disposal technology
In the continuing efforts to improve and refine the recycling process, new waste disposal technology is being used. Simply put, if waste management doesn’t undergo sweeping changes, many existing waste issues will only inflate into something more damaging. It is said if changes are not made, in 2050 oceans will contain more plastic than fish.
Smart waste management technologies include everything from waste level sensors to pneumatic waste pipes. However, one of the most effective technologies a company can incorporate is smart waste bins. During the essential initial sorting process, human error is taken out of the equation by smart waste bins. This makes material processing easier and faster, and it can drastically boost employee efficiency and reduce waste management costs by up to 80%.
Managing business waste
Did you know 57% of consumers are open to changing their purchasing habits if it means reducing negative environmental impact? This means if your business can clearly display its effort and commitment to sustainability, it can open the door to attracting new customers.
To make it a reality, you need to know how to manage business waste successfully. Below are a few tips on dealing with common waste types.
With everyday waste such as paper and plastic, it is important you sort and correctly store these materials. Having a secure place to store waste is the first step. You will also need to use clearly labeled containers to separate and collect the waste.
You have to take particular care when storing waste, particularly if they’re in a place where the elements can cause issues. If covers are not used, waste can be blown away. If these covers are not waterproof, it could also lead to rain affecting your stored materials.
Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, is going to become an increasing concern for businesses. Fortunately, a business can take steps right now, such as moving a lot of technology and processes to the cloud, which can immediately reduce their electronic waste.
If you have electronic waste which has no future purpose for your business, there are various steps you can take. There are specialist third-party electronics recyclers that can take care of these materials in a cost-effective, environmentally-friendly way. There’s also the possibility of trading-in devices for upgrades or donating them to local charities to expand their lifespan.
As you would expect, extra steps have to be taken when you’re handling and processing hazardous waste. If this hazardous waste was to cause damage or harm to others, it could lead to significant ramifications for your business. Materials deemed hazardous include chemicals, solvents, batteries, oils, and pesticides.
First, begin by ensuring all hazardous waste is separated from non-hazardous waste. You will then need to store the waste responsibly. That means using applicable containers, keeping them out of the elements, and storing them in a safe, secure place. Once you have used an authorised waste carrier to handle your hazardous waste, you’ll have to keep a record of any waste transfers you make.
Waste is a major problem that the world is currently facing. This problem will only become further exacerbated if landfills are opted over recycling. Although landfills are no longer quite the giant headache they once were, they’re also far from the ideal way to deal with waste.
A lot of waste is produced in the U.S. and across the world. The many points of data highlighted in this guide demonstrate this clearly. However, with a more sustainable-driven approach, where materials are recycled, and the likes of single-use plastics are eliminated, there’s hope for the future that waste will no longer be the problem it currently is for the planet.
You can find out more about landfills, how they function, and their average life expectancy here: https://scdhec.gov/environment/land-and-waste-landfills/how-landfills-work
You can learn more about how the EPA is working to clean up electronic waste here: https://www.epa.gov/international-cooperation/cleaning-electronic-waste-e-waste
The EPA also has a detailed guide on how small businesses can effectively manage their hazardous waste. This can be downloaded on this page: https://www.epa.gov/hwgenerators/managing-your-hazardous-waste-guide-small-businesses
Learn more about current technologies which are used to divert waste from landfills here: https://www.cleanupnews.org/home/waste-management-technologies
What happens to landfill waste?
Landfills are generally designed to store waste rather than break it down. However, when it’s placed in a sealed, oxygen-free environment, landfill garbage will decompose – although this is a slow process. Plastic bags, for instance, can take up to 100 years to degrade.
How can my business reduce waste?
There are various steps you can take to reduce business waste. You can provide employees with reusable bottles instead of single-use cups. You can go paperless with a more digital approach. You can reduce your physical technological needs by moving processes to the cloud.
Can my business make money by recycling?
Yes, recycling can be a profitable venture if you take the appropriate steps. If you collect and process recyclable materials like aluminum, paper, and paper with the correct equipment, this can help to reduce costs and add an additional revenue stream for your business.
The right equipment goes a long way towards a business achieving its recycling goals. One such piece of equipment is a baler. You can find the right baler at https://recyclingbalers.com/, while https://www.balingwiredirect.com/ ensures your baled materials are secured with dependable, high-quality baling wire.View more
Minister Barbara Creecy: Food and packaging waste prevention and reduction initiative
23 Mar 2022
Address by Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy, at the closing event of the Food and packaging waste prevention and reduction initiative
Her Excellency, Dr Riina Kionka, EU Ambassador
Mr Gareth Ackerman, Co-Chairperson of Consumer Goods Council of South Africa
Ladies and Gentlemen, greetings!
A special greeting and appreciation to the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa and the EU-SA Dialogue Facility for organising this special event of closing off the work that began in 2019 and to reflect on the progress and achievements made so far towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 of reducing food loss and waste by 50% by year 2030.
The Covid-19 pandemic that started in 2020, aggravated the already existing challenges on food production and consumption, but also provided us all with opportunities to rethink our practices as we grappled with changes in consumer buying habits and global supply chain disruptions.
The 2018 State of Waste report estimated that of the 55.6 million tonnes of general waste that was generated in South Africa, 19 247 851 tonnes was organic waste (incl. food waste) and 65.2 % was landfilled.
The Food and Packaging Waste Prevention and Reduction Initiative seeks to address food security from the perspective of avoiding food waste. Food loss and waste is a recognised global issue which is also affecting South Africa. According to the Department of Science of Innovation and CSIR, an estimated 10.3 million tonnes of food and beverages, which is about 34.3% of local food production, is wasted per year in South Africa amounting to R61.5 billion per annum.
While our country has these shocking food waste statistics, we also have a problem of acute food insecurity. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a common global scale for classifying the severity and magnitude of food insecurity and malnutrition. Globally, indications are that around 800 million people are undernourished It is concerning that in 2020, 9.34 million people in South Africa suffered from acute food insecurity and urgent action is required to reduce food gaps and protect livelihoods according to Integrated Food Security Phase Classification.
This requires urgent intervention directed at that those identified areas and populations with food deprivation that threatens livelihoods, regardless of the causes, context or duration. South Africa’s deteriorating food security is mainly driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, high food prices, drought and economic decline. StatsSA indicates that almost 20% of South African households have inadequate access to food.
In 2021, during the Launch of the South African Food Loss and Waste Voluntary Agreement as part of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, I mentioned that as government we are working hard in reviewing existing legislation and developing new policy instruments for better management of our waste and to encourage and inspire innovation in the waste management and food production sectors.
2022 is a vital year in the implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility schemes for packaging products. We have seen that a large number of producers have come forward to register and there are a number of producer responsibility organisations that have been registered to manage packaging products. The Department is working with stakeholders in support of the EPR schemes and their implementation
This month, we also took a decision with other member states at UNEA 5.2 to curb plastic pollution. However, as a Department we realise that we need to ensure that the transition for plastic packaging is phased, and that the circumstances of the domestic plastic industry are addressed, as there are close linkages with the food industry. We commit to working with stakeholders to ensure that pollution is addressed and food waste is also reduced.
In South Africa the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS), 2020, as part of Government’s strategic priority to minimise waste to landfill by 45% by 2025, has identified food waste and loss as a critical area that requires intervention.
Therefore, as a direct response to NWMS, 2020, SDG: 12 and government priorities as a whole, a Draft Food Loss and Waste Strategy is under development, which will:
- Increase awareness on the impact of food waste,
- align with Chemicals and Waste Economy initiatives,
- strongly integrate different disciplinary perspectives and best practices, and
- map out the determinants of food waste generation to deepen the understanding of household practices and help design food waste prevention strategies.
All key stakeholders in the food value chain are encouraged to participate in the development of this strategy for reducing food losses and waste, that will in turn inform effective and efficient food waste management solutions and will also contribute in addressing our challenges relating to unemployment, food security, economic recovery and growing the economy.
Food and beverage waste also has a significant impact on the environment due to methane gas which contribute to Green House Gas (GHG) emissions produced when food spoils. Food production is resource intensive, resources such as water, labour and energy are wasted and biodiversity is impacted upon negatively.
South Africa remains committed to achieving the SDGs, especially 12.3 “By 2030, halve per capita food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chain”. Globally, food loss and waste represent 8% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (4.4 gigatons CO2e annually), offering opportunity for meaningful reductions. Given the Constitutional obligation to protect the environment from pollution, the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment is a strategic partner in this initiative.
Importantly, in the face of climate change and increasing temperatures and water scarcity, reducing food waste also has a significant role to play in our transition to a low- carbon society. Adapting to climate change will mean we as a society will have to transition to cultivating less water-intensive crops, and will have to seriously address the problem of wastage when confronted with less available land suitable for agriculture.
In closing, I would like to express our appreciation to all the signatories to the Voluntary Agreement, other government departments and bodies who are associate signatories to the agreement, stakeholders, and the strategic partners for your participation in driving this initiative.
The South African government and all the sectors involved in the food value chain have greatly benefitted from this partnership with the EU-SA Dialogue Facility, and this will add value to our efforts of improved waste management, implementing a circular economy, and preparing ourselves for the transition to a climate resilient society
I wish to you all the best as you reflect on the work done so far and the deliberations on the implementation of the plans going forward for contributing towards halving food loss and waste by the year 2030.
Thank You.View more
South Africa welcomes the adoption of the resolution to end plastic pollution
3 March 2022
“South Africa welcomes the adoption of the resolution to end plastic pollution: towards an international legally binding instrument. This represents an important landmark and significant decision to protect the environment and particularly our oceans that are important for food security, addressing climate change, improving the health and promoting sustainable development and poverty eradication,” said Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy.
The resolution was adopted by the resumed 5th Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) unanimously by all member states with resounding acclamation and standing ovations.
Member states have recognized that urgent further international action is needed by developing an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. An intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) will be constituted commencing its work during second half of 2022, with the ambition of completing by the end of 2024.
The instrument which could include both binding and voluntary approaches would be based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, taking into account the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, as well as national circumstances and capabilities. Critical to implementation for developing countries will be the need for means of implementation namely finance, technology and capacity.
Additional to this milestone resolution UNEA also decides to establish a science policy panel that would contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution as well as to continue and strengthen support for the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management.
“South Africa will actively engage in the future multilateral negotiations on plastics pollution with the view to ensuring that we not only have and ambitious and robust instrument but that the needs of developing countries and in particular the special needs and circumstances of Africa are firmly anchored within,” said Creecy.View more
DFFE on draft results for an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution adopted by cabinet
16 Feb 2022
South Africa’s negotiating position on the draft results for an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution adopted by cabinet
Cabinet has adopted South Africa’s negotiating mandate on the draft resolution on an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution to be tabled at the resumed 5th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 28 February – 2 March 2022.
South Africa is in support of addressing the issue of marine litter and plastic pollution in line with the position proposed by the African continent.
Our country is in support of mandating the Executive Director of UNEA to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) under UNEA to negotiate an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution given the environmental challenges faced as a consequence of plastic pollution.
The Resolution, which was originally sponsored by Rwanda and Peru, also proposes provisions that should be addressed by such an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution namely:
- The objectives of the instrument and establish as necessary targets, definitions, methodologies, formats and obligations
- To address product design and use, including compounds, additives and harmful substances as well as intentionally added microplastics;
- To promote national action plans to prevent, reduce and remediate plastic pollution, tailored to local and national circumstances and the characteristics of specific sectors and support regional and international cooperation and coordination;
- To increase knowledge through awareness-raising and information exchange on best practices to prevent plastic pollution and promote behavioural change;
- To monitor and report on national and international progress on implementation of the agreement;
- To provide scientific and socio-economic assessments and to monitor and report on plastic pollution in the environment;
- To cooperate and coordinate with relevant regional and international conventions, instruments and organisations;
- To specify financial and technical arrangements as well as technology transfer assistance to support the implementation of the convention
- To address implementation and compliance issues;
- To promote research and development into innovative solutions.
South Africa will also, in addition to these provisions listed above, request for the inclusion of the recognition of the special needs and circumstances of Africa and that the internationally legally binding global agreement on plastics pollution must include the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in light of national circumstances.
South Africa will also stress the need for new, additional and predictable finance, including technology transfer, development and deployment as well as capacity building to support developing countries, in particular Africa for its implementation.View more