Waste Management Colloquium, with Minister and Deputy Minister

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

14 March 2017
Chairperson: Mr P Mapulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Minister of Environmental Affairs and the Deputy Minister were both present at the colloquium, the third of its kind hosted by the Portfolio Committee of Environmental Affairs. Other invited guests included the Department of Environmental Affairs, the City of Cape Town, an engineer from eThekwini Municipality, a UCT lecturer and key stakeholders in the recycling industry such as Plastics South Africa and the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa.

The Chairperson said they were there to share their experiences and views, challenges and opportunities they encountered in implementing the existing regime of waste management legislation, particularity to find out if it is encouraging or constraining the circular economy, which is an alternative model for the “make, use and dispose” culture.

The Discussions were described as exciting, but before the colloquium ended, those who attended were made aware of serious issues facing South Africa as a whole as well as the African continent.

The Minister said that the Waste Management function is implemented now at a much bigger scale than before. It is addressing issues of infrastructure and recycling and requires resources to ensure:

  • The rehabilitation of landfill sites.
  • The provision of infrastructure.
  • Municipalities have vehicles and dust bins readily available to do separation at source.

On the day, it was heard that guidelines for households to separate at source were prepared some time ago. But there is no municipality in the country with infrastructure to deal with separated fractions of waste. Therefore, there is a lot of training, awareness and work to still do.

Currently South Africa produces around close to 110 million tons of waste each year. In addition to that R17 billion worth of waste products are presently being discarded in landfills. Even though SA accounts for less than 0.5% of global plastics production this still amounts to 1.5 million tons of plastics consumed annually. Africa is the second worst polluted continent and is getting worse quite rapidly.

350kg of plastic ends up in the sea every second of every day.  That is 21 tons a minute.  This is having a massive impact and more than a million birds are killed each year as well as 300 000 dolphins and also whales. Micro plastics are also a huge problem. It affects human health after absorbing toxins and landing in the food chain.

Another topic for discussion at the colloquium was the effectiveness of the plastic levy. But even though National Treasury confirmed attendance they did not arrive, which was disappointing.

Another disappointment, for Members of the Committee was that it seemed that transformation is not going beyond the establishment of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises.  Plastics South Africa and the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa were encouraged to do more in that regard. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson reported that the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa, and Deputy Minster, Ms Barbara Thompson had apologised that they would be late as they were only due to arrive at the airport at 9am that day.

The Chairperson welcomed all attending the colloquium and said the success of the previous two colloquiums (one on Rhino poaching and another one on Climate Change) had demonstrated the correctness of the Committee’s decision of creating this national platform for debates and dialogue between Government, Parliament and civil society around key contemporary questions facing society in the environmental sector.

He expressed the hope that:

  • * The colloquium will assist in the quest to contribute in on-going intellectual discourse on topical issues in the country.
  • * That it will assist to “maximise the benefits of a circular economy” - the theme of this colloquium.
  • * The concept of circular economy will be unpacked
  • * It will interrogate the degree to which the existing set of waste management legislation regulation is effective.
  •  * It will enhance the collective ability to manage the waste that we generate in South Africa (SA)

Key stakeholders were invited to share their experiences and views, the challenges and the opportunities they encountered in implementing the existing regime of waste management legislation, and particularity to find out if it is encouraging or constraining the circular economy.   This was an opportunity to engage in robust and frank discussions, to discover how to tackle the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment en inequality.

The question to pose at the onset was what the “circular economy” was and what interventions were required to maximise it. Many scholars and writers have defined the circular economy and the consensus lies in that it is an alternative model for the “make, use and dispose” culture. This model advocates products and materials to be kept in a high value state of use for as long as possible. It is opposed to where in a linear economy products are used and then discarded as waste once the initial purposes are fulfilled.

There is recognition of an economic value for waste products in a circular economy that seeks to disassemble, reassemble add re-use such products whilst in the process keeping products fresh and creating new job streams, new waste management enterprises and environmental benefits. Waste is also limited if not eradicated.

A cradle-to-cradle approach replaces the cradle-to-grave or cradle-to-landfill approach.

The benefits of a circular economy are:

  • It creates new opportunities for growth.
  • Reduces waste.
  • Strives for greater resource productivity.
  • Delivers a more competitive economy
  • Better addresses the emerging resource scarcity challenge.
  • Reduces the environmental impact of production and consumption.

Currently SA produces around close to 110 million tons of waste each year. In addition to that R17 billion worth of waste products are presently being discarded in landfills.

Thus, there is great value to derive from this waste. The process of collecting, transporting and recycling could generate hundreds and thousands of sustainable jobs and viable small businesses. A growing percentage of that waste is now exported for processing abroad. In 2013 7% of recovered plastic was exported for processing abroad. Another example is e-waste (discarded computers and so forth) that has entities increasingly willing to buy it. The negative consequences of this was noted by the chairperson of the e-waste association of South Africa, Mr Keith Anderson, who indicated that the Chinese processors need huge amounts of e-waste and because the exchange rate works in their favour they can pay more for that e-waste (for example R8 for a laptop where as local recyclers can pay only R4) This is bad because we are exporting job opportunities and we put challenges on the sector to put more premiums on the recycling of these products.

Another topic for discussion at the colloquium was the effectiveness of the plastic levy. Is it effective and encouraging the recycling of plastic? For this, National Treasury was invited to come and share: the total amount that has been raised, the distribution of the levy, the environmental effectiveness and future prospects of the plastic levy.

More fundamentally the question was: Should we introduce more radical measures to severely restrict or completely ban the use of plastic shopping bags? There were several international examples of the complete ban of plastic shopping bags.

Presentation: Maximising the circular waste economy in South Africa

Mr Mark Gordon, Deputy Director General (DDG): Chemicals and Waste Management, DEA, thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity and said the purpose of the presentation was to provide an overview of existing government regulation on waste management relating to the Industry Waste Management Plans (IndWMP’s).

An IndWMP for any particular waste stream should ensure the holistic management of that waste stream from the points of generation, collection and transportation, storage as well as processing.

Waste management is currently undergoing a major global paradigm shift as the global demand for waste is rising. However, the complexity of waste is also on the increase as new chemicals are introduced on a daily basis.

The Waste Act (2008) aims to protect health, well-being and the environment by providing reasonable measures for:

  • Avoiding the generation of waste.
  • Reducing, reusing, recycling and recovery of waste.
  • Treating ad safely disposing of waste as last resort.
  • Preventing pollution and
  • Securing ecologically sustainable development while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

According to data from 2013 SA’s Waste Streams Recycling Rates are:

  • Plastic – 18%
  • Waste Oil – 44%
  • Scrap Metal – 80%
  • Electronic Waste – 11% (This has grown since 2013)
  • Paper – 57%
  • Glass – 32%
  • Tyres – 4% (SA is way past this figure now)
  • Municipal Organic Waste – 35%

Currently Waste Management Measures are:

  • Industry waste management plans
  • Extended producer responsibility
  • Declaration of priority wastes
  • Licensing
  • Waste classification & management system
  • Norms & Standards
  • Industry waste management plans
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR’s)
  • Priority wastes
  • Licensing
  • Waste Classification and Management System
  • Norms and standards such as baseline regulatory standards for managing waste at each stage of the waste management hierarchy.

Progress on the amended Section 28 Notice:

The First Notice of intention was published on 24 July 2015. The final Notice was published on 12 August 2016 for implementation. In September 2016, it was withdrawn due to concerns from industry. A new Notice of intention was published on the same day.

Aspects of the Amended Notice:

  • Inclusion of importers – free riders.
  • Inclusion of threshold on contaminated containers.
  • A three-month registration period for producers.
  • A nine-month period for development and submission of IndWMP’s by the 3 sectors (e-waste, lighting and paper & packaging) – to be run concurrently.
  • Paper and packaging must be limited to consumer use and exclude industrial packaging.
  • Include the definition of “consumer goods”.
  • Removal of the registration process as there is no legal basis for requiring such registration;
  • Exemption provisions must be included in the Notice.
  • Removal of exempting material contaminated with hazardous material.
  • Removal of some of the contents of the IndWMP’s as they do not have a legal basis or is beyond the scope of the NEMWA.
  • Provide measures to be implemented to give effect to best environmental management practice in respect of the waste management.
  • Identify measures that will be applied to ensure compliance with the industry waste management plan.
  • Set out the process to be followed in the procurement of the waste management companies to perform collection, transport, and storage or processing.
  • Provide details on how the industry waste management plans will address issues of social responsibility in the industry.
  • Provide details of the manner in which the previously disadvantaged individuals will be integrated in the implementation of the industry waste management plan.
  • Provide details of the manner in which the informal sector will be integrated in the implementation of the industry waste management plan.
  • Indicate how job creation, training and development will be integrated in the implementation of the IndWMP’s.

Presentation: Chemicals and waste management, The future of plastic waste in South Africa

Ms Mamogala Musekene Chief Director, DEA, opened her presentation by saying that even though SA accounts for less than 0.5% of global plastics production this still amounts to 1.5 million tons of plastics consumed annually.

The Sector Breakdown is as follows:

  • Packaging – 53%
  • Building and Construction – 13%
  • Agriculture – 9%
  • Electrical and electronics – 6%
  • Automotive – 4%
  • Other – 15%

The flow of plastic in SA indicates a leakage of 56%, due to litter problems.

Another problem is “micro beads” that is found in cosmetics such as exfoliators. These have marine impacts.

Progress with the implementation of the Waste Bureau from Waste Bureau South Africa

Ms Nolwazi Tetyana: Specialist Advisor from the Waste Bureau, explaining that the Strategic positioning of the Bureau was:

  • Moving away from regulating to treat waste as an environmental hazard to looking at waste as a source of valuable materials.
  • Facilitate removal of legal and administrative barriers that limit redesign, recovery, reuse, and trading in waste.
  • Catalyst for industry cooperation through industry waste management plans.
  • Central to exploring new fields of value creation and deal with structural waste in the economy.

High level programmes of the Bureau included:

  • Operationalisation which includes the business case for public entity listing process, the law reform process and the progressive build-up of capacity.
  • Information Management System
  • Skills Development
  • Research into markets (tyres, plastics)
  • Investments in Infrastructure.
  • Municipal Waste Management planning support

Discussion

The Chairperson welcomed the Minister who arrived quietly during the presentations.

Ms J Edwards (DA) asked what the DEA’s plan is to move away from the “dump it on landfills” approach specifically in rural areas. In the Metro’s it is a little bit easier, but of course the lack of service delivery there. How does DEA plan to divert waste from landfills? How much raw plastic material are we importing compared to what we manufacture locally? How will compulsory separation at source as a regulatory tool be enforced?  Where will the “recycling subsidy” come from and how will our rural areas tap into that?

Mr S Makhubele (ANC) thanked the DEA for the presentations. Regarding the percentages of the waste streams that are recycled, he wanted to know how the Department arrived at those figures. The figures for the tyre recycling have improved. There was also some discrepancy regarding other figures. Mr Makhubela wanted clarity and to know where exactly the country’s figures were. Across the country South Africans needed to arrive at the point where waste is separated at source. Surely the intention and the practice are two different things? We are still struggling to see households and municipalities separating at source. Are we envisioning success with the help of regulations or what efforts will the DEA put into this?

Why was the industry not keen to move into the area of re-using and recycling of waste on its own? Why did they have to wait for government? Lastly, he said that a number of issues where withdrawn from the notices, such as the removal of the registration process. What did this mean? Did this mean that the notices, as they stood, will not necessarily hold?  Or are new notices, that the industry needs to comply with, going to be put forward?

Mr R Purdon (DA) said in all three presentations it was seen that there will be efforts to relieve municipalities from the financial burden and that there will be support for 27 districts, that there will be support at unlicensed sites. The intentions are good but is the political will there to achieve this? He referred to cases where it has taken action from the court, such as interdicts, to get municipalities to move in certain instances. Unlicensed sites are used with full knowledge of municipalities. He would like to see clearer timelines and said that finances seemed very vague. Has an audit ever been done on the number of licensed and unlicensed municipal dumping sites? Where does education, an important cog in this whole wheel, fit into that?

Ms H Kekana (ANC) asked the Department if there were any plan to keep the environment clean from Pampers.

The Chairperson remarked on the national pricing strategy. He referred to an indication in one of the presentations that in terms of the amendment the South African Revenue Service (SARS) will be collecting and funds will be going to revenue fund for further distribution. Since 1 February 2017 SARS is collecting the tyre levy and is also collecting the plastic and light bulb levy. Were there any plans to get the funds from SARS to use for the purpose it is intended for? National Treasury puts all the money in one treaty and therefore money collected from tyres could fund shortages in Higher Education (for example)

The Chairperson said that a progress report was expected from the Waste Bureau. What the last slide comprised of was supposed to be the presentation; the matter should be discussed with the Director General (DG) of the DEA. He asked if anything can be shared about the business case for the public entity listing process. What are the timelines, when is the law reform process going to be done and what does the attempt to build capacity comprise of?

Mr Gordon answered Ms Edwards that dumping of waste and the litter management (the visible problem we see in the streets) were two separate issues. The majority of waste that gets dumped is not coming from the poor areas but from the urban areas. In the rural context, the issues are with receptacles and the provision of infrastructure for the collection of waste. In terms of the Constitution the environmental function and the waste, specifically, is a concurrent function between the DEA (that provides the policy contexts) and the municipal level that runs the collections part (in terms of Section 4 and of the Constitution). In terms of the Division of Revenue Act municipalities do receive revenue for the provision of infrastructure for waste collection. The national domestic waste collection standards provide guidelines on how municipalities should provide services in rural areas. Also, the Rural Revitalisation Strategy that was passed by Cabinet provided for privatisation of infrastructure for rural communities

A lot of raw materials for plastic, the bulk of it plastic polymers and plastic monomers, are produced in SA. Products and polystyrene specifically are imported.

There are two ways to force diversion, you either regulate or incentivise. Right now, DEA is concentrating on incentivising to change behaviour. Recycling of waste makes business sense. You can make money and we slowly want to upscale that. The notion of pricing of waste is therefore pushed forward. That is why the Minister published a pricing strategy. Once there is a value for waste it will not end up in a landfill.

Guidelines for households to separate at source were prepared some time ago. But there is no municipality in the country with infrastructure to deal with separated fractions of waste. There is a lot of training; awareness and work to still do in terms of how we will pass the law. We need to concentrate on how we get municipalities organised for separated waste.

Regarding the recycling subsidy, subsidy schemes will roll out through the Waste Bureau, support is provided for waste pickers, and there is the recycling enterprise support programme. Recyclers also get subsidised through warranty programmes like the PETCO [PET (polyethylene terephthalate) Recycling Company] programme. Emerging co-operatives, Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME’s) would require start-up capital to get them going. That injection is part of what the Waste Bureau is going to be doing initially as well.

In answer to Mr Makhubele’s question, Mr Gordon said the numbers are straight out of a very comprehensive study that the Department of Science and Technology did in 2013. We have since moved from 4% for tyre-recycling and the DEA is in the process of qualifying the latest number. Also, the latest 2016 number for plastics being recycled is 21%.

Industry did in fact do some programmes voluntarily. Examples of that was Collect-a-Can and the ROSE (Recycling Oil Saves the Environment) Foundation. The passing of tyre regulation provided the basis for the tyre levy. Once a waste management is passed, and approved by the Minister, producers and recyclers in the plan are obliged to participate in a plan in terms of Section 28 of the Waste Act.

In industry, around 80% of producers and recyclers are “on the books” and they comply and give statistics, but there are also free-riders that ride on the backs of other industry. The issue of legislation was if all of them can be registered.

In answer to Mr Purdon’s question, an audit has been conducted and the initial number of 341 (with unlicensed landfills) was now completely dealt and regularised with licencing that deal with issues such as illegal disposal, fencing, security and burning of waste. It is a moving target and there are 12 new municipalities that will be dealt with this year. There will be another survey and audit this year. 

The Chairperson welcomed the Deputy Minister and assured her that her apology was received.

Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director General (DG), DEA, added to the responses made by saying that waste or refuse removal is done in terms of Section 24b of the municipal function. Separation is the manner in which municipalities deal with waste and there are systems available so help citizens to voluntarily separate waste at source. Some municipalities reported constraints because of resources required to undertake the function – subsequently, instruments were put in place to assist municipalities also and especially in rural areas. In the last year, National Treasury earmarked funds to help with the provision of the service but, unfortunately that does not help sufficiently with the entire infrastructure that is required to establish a landfill site properly; an investment of about R20 million is needed and most municipalities do not even have such budgets. There is agreement that DEA needs to run an awareness campaign about things such as separation at source. If receptacles are provided at certain points such amounts of money may not be needed. 

The presentation from the Waste Bureau outlined the activities they undertake. Work done with National Treasury on the listing process should be complete soon. On the aspect that relates to amendments of the Waste Act, a number of other amendments are being proposed – such as a legal amendment to make separation at source compulsory. Currently the amended Bill has been approved by Cabinet for transmission to Parliament. Regarding the Waste Bureau, they should now establish a board as an executive authority. The timeframes are dependent on Parliament.

She could not say much about the pricing strategy because the matter is sub judice.

Comments by the Minister

Minister Edna Molewa apologised for arriving late and said there were very difficult things to deal with in Johannesburg.

The Minister wanted to embellish on the point of the Indigent Policy that was passed, before her time in Environmental Affairs, when she was still with Water Affairs and Sanitation, which was a policy that is intended to ensure that people in rural areas, as well as their municipalities are indeed supported to get Waste Management addressed fully in those areas. As the DDG (Mr Mark Gordon, (DDG): Chemicals and Waste Management) indicated, there is now an indicative figure of some allowance or some funds for that, but the trouble has always been that the Waste Management function is now (as opposed to the previous government) being implemented on a much bigger scale addressing issues of infrastructure, recycling, and therefore requires lots of resources ranking from rehabilitation of landfill sites, provision of infrastructure  to even ensuring that municipalities have vehicles and dust bins readily available to do separation at source. The Minister assured the Committee that the DEA will get to indigent people, that it is something that is prioritised. The Indigent Policy now needs to be funded.

The second issue the Minister wanted to elaborate on was how the DEA is managing to rehabilitate old and set up new landfill sites. 341 landfills needed attention, and because “we are one South Africa after all” government moved in to support. The last 12 that emerged will not be the last 12 for there are areas that need new landfill sites and some areas that need landfill sites closed and/or combined. Linked to this are illegal dumpsites that people wrongly think are managed, and proper landfill sites. This issue was about culture, education and a whole management issue to cure this problem. Illegal dumpsites have to be dealt with, as well.

The Minister answered Ms Kekana’s question by saying she wanted to speak about what her Department is doing to really keep SA clean. As for the culture issue the Department is continuously talking to people and educating in order to change behaviour. But, there is a Waste Management Strategy in SA that talks about the circular economy of re-using and recycling and so forth. A whole lot of work is being done right now and it is done to make sure the Department really gets SA clean.

The Minister said there was great support from National Treasury; even before there were levies funds were allocated to the Environment Function from other sources albeit not as the Department would have loved – but you cannot have everything at all times. She ensured the Committee that the Department is quite confident that that which has been collected will be utilised where it may be needed. It is a pool of money intended to cover the entirety of needs in SA.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister, the DG and Mr Gordon. He said that a real briefing on the establishment of the Waste Bureau was still needed and that maybe it should be on the agenda for the following week. That briefing should include what milestones were reached and what other steps, in terms of operationalising the bill, is still needed. The sooner the bill gets established and running the easier it will be for the Department.

It was then the time for National Treasury (NT) to engage with the Committee and invited guests on the Plastic Bag Levy -  but no one from NT was present. The Chairperson said that attendance was confirmed but that the Committee would follow-up. The details of the plastic bag levy were needed, on that day, to understand whether the intended purpose of the levy was being achieved.

Industry response: The South African Plastics Recycling Industry – Progress

Mr Anton Hanekom, Executive Director, Plastics SA, acknowledged the Minister and Deputy Minister and proceeded with his presentation, explaining that Plastics SA was an umbrella organisation for the South African plastics industry and registered as a Non Profit Company (NPC). It is funded by membership fees based on sales of locally manufactured and imported plastics raw material, sponsorships from industry associations and other contributions.

The strategic initiatives for the industry were:

  • Zero plastics to landfill by 2030
  • Growth through exports and import replacement
  • Innovation and skills development
  • Industry support through public-private partnerships

In 2015 the SA plastics recycling industry looked as follows:

  • Approximately 293 kilo tons per annum recycled
  • Approximately 310 kilo tons per annum diverted
  • Approximately 224 recycling companies
  • 6 234 people employed in formal sector
  • 48 820 employed in informal sector
  • 3% more waste recycled
  • Collection rate of 45.6% of all plastics packaging material for recycling were diverted from landfills
  • Amongst the highest mechanical recycling countries in the world

Sustainability council activities include:

Waste Management and recycling

  • Plastics recycling training to government, waste industry and entrepreneurs (including youth development for example in Tembisa and KwaZulu-Natal)
  • Marine debris: the signatory to the Global Plastics Alliance Declaration on marine litter and founder and supporter of the African Marine Waste Network.
  • Clean-up and recycling campaigns: support national events such as Clean-up and Recycle SA week, international coastal clean-up day, sport events, clear rivers, Operation Clean Sweep.
  • Education: development of plastic education materials for use in schools, exhibitions and society.

Clean up and recycling events

Cycle tours, festivals, marathons and clean-up and recycling events.

PVC-projects

- Recycling PVC at hospitals: separation of hazardous waste from non- hazardous waste and recovering PVC for recycling such as IV bags, tubing, oxygen masks, blister packs for medicines being recycled into shoe soles, pipes, door mats, hoses, gum boots and traffic cones

Street Sleeper Project: Conversion of used billboards into waterproof, windproof survival

sleeping bags for the homeless.

 

The Chairperson thanked Mr Hanekom for the presentation. He re-iterated that he was concerned over the non-appearance of NT, also seen in the light that it is “hey who insist people should be held accountable.

The Chairperson asked his Committee and all present to not take a tea break and instead have three more presentations before breaking for lunch. It was agreed upon.

The Economic Growth potential of Beneficiating all Waste Streams

Dr Reza Che Daniels, Lecturer, UCT School of Economics, explained that the presentation will comprise of two research papers written with Faaiqa Hartley and Tara Caetano of the Energy Research Centre at UCT.

The first paper was titled “the economy-wide economic impacts of monetising 13 waste streams, based on the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST’s) Waste Research Development and Innovation (RDI) Roadmap of 2014”

The second paper was titled “the economy-wide economic impacts of the Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan (IIWTMP) implemented by the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA)

Although the results are hypothetical it can help the Committee and the DEA understand the possibilities of waste beneficiation.

Key results of the first paper were:

If all 13 waste streams were able to achieve 100% recycling rates it would inject about R25 billion into the economy.

The economy-wide economic impact of this would be an increase in the economic growth rate of about 0.5% and an increase in net full-time employment of over 13 000 jobs with most of these being in lower- and medium-skilled occupations.

Key results of the second paper were:

The difference was actual data from REDISA was took in to account the waste recovery process

It suggested that:

About 2407 full-time equivalent jobs could be gained.

About 959 full-time equivalent jobs could be lost;

That amounts to a net increase of 1 448 new jobs.

(These are hypothetical results)

The lessons from both papers were:

  • Pro-poor economic growth can be achieved using waste beneficiation as a strategy to do so.
  • Implementing industry waste management plans is required in order to activate the positive job creation potential of waste recovery.
  • The REDISA model delivers roughly three times more output to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) than the first paper suggests is possible from simply recycling waste tyres, so waste recovery & processing is essential to generate bigger economic impacts.
  • Therefore, if you replicate the REDISA model to other waste streams you could increase the economic growth impact considerably higher than 0.5%.

Landfill Gas to Electricity Project

Mr John Parkin, ‎Deputy Head: Plant and Engineering, eThekwini Municipality’ quoted Robert Eden in stating that “A rule-of-thumb is that 6 – 10m3 of landfill gas will be produced per ton of waste per year for 10 – 15 years from placement”

The project at two landfill sites, Marianhill and Bisasar road was commissioned in July 2009.

The capital and operating expenditures of the project were supported by two revenue streams:

  • Sale of Carbon Credits (without the sale of carbon credits, the project would not be financially viable)
  • Sale of Electricity 

Currently the statistics are:

  • A 7.5 MW generation of electricity capacity.
  • Electricity Supply to 3 750 medium houses
  • Total LFG Flow ~ 4 400 Nm3/hr at 53% CH4
  • Over 20 000 tons CO2 equivalent destroyed per month
  • Over 2,5 million tons of CO2 equivalent destroyed to date
  • Over R175 million worth of electricity generated to date
  • Over 370 000 MWh generated
  • Over R 4,3 million in electricity income in July 2015 which was the best month up to date.

Plastics-to-oil conversion at the Kraaifontein Integrated Waste Management Facility

Mr Rustin Keraam, Director: Solid Waste Management Utility Services, City of Cape Town, said he will talk about more than what is happening at Kraaifontein, but that Kraaifontein is included in the presentation.’

The overall progress on waste-to-energy progress was as follows:

Section 78(3) study – to investigate alternative service delivery mechanisms

Council approval of Section 78(3) recommendations

Costing of existing versus alternative service mechanisms

Appointment of a transaction advisor

The definition of a financially viable model for implementation was work in progress and the implementation of viable alternatives still needed to be done.

Business improvement initiatives included:

  • Illegal Dumping - exploring a collaborative approach (involving communities) informed by root cause analysis rather than reacting to social patterns.
  • Informal Settlement optimisation study – to have extending services to weekends and closely manage contractors to ensure better outcomes.
  • Tagging of bins project – the fitting of geo-coded tags to each 240 litre wheelie belonging to the City. These tags can be read when mechanically lifted by the refuse compactor truck thereby enabling the determination of the number of lifts and tagging of bins further ensures tracking and revenue completeness
  • Fifty 50 Bin - an award-winning initiative (first of its kind by SA municipality) to use recycled material (damaged bins) and virgin material in equal proportion to manufacture new and equally strong 240 litre wheelie bin
  • Drop-offs - extended the mandate of drop-offs from initially receiving only bulky waste that could not fit into the standard receptacle to essential hubs for waste diversion from landfills and to curb illegal dumping
  • Beat re-cutting - reconfiguration of refuse collection catchment areas, using a specific operational logic, to bring about optimal utilisation of resources

The colloquium had a lunch break.

After the lunch break the last presentation of the day was presented.

Lessons learnt from the Waste Tyre Plan – the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA)

Mr Hermann Erdmann, CEO, REDISA, first made mention of an advanced computer system used by Redisa that is pivotal in helping them do the work they do.

In three and a half years, tyres diverted went from 4% to 63%, that over 3 000 jobs were created and that over 200 small businesses were created.

There are direct payments to waste-pickers as trickle-down doesn’t work and payments are made twice weekly.

REDISA has the opportunity to build completely new industries as it favours the previously disadvantaged sector without taking away from existing industries; it adopts a collaborative approach and can separate the success of the company from the success of the entrepreneur.

Cumulatively to February 2016 REDISA has invested R789m in 226 businesses.

Discussion
Mr Makhubele said in one of the slides from Plastics SA there was an indication that they have a target related to PETCO of 70% by 2022. Seeing that Plastics SA are advocating for public private partnership – did you arrive to that particular target on your own? If we were to have a situation where government comes in, will that target improve?

He asked if there were agreement on the definitions of “plastic” and “waste” between government and the industry.

He said Plastics SA had not spoken about how they are assisting informal business other than referring to labour incentives in informal areas. Are we seeing Plastics SA assisting emerging businesses to the level of real transformation?

He asked if Plastics SA has any timeframes for removing pickers from landfill sites; and if the model in the City of Cape Town can be expanded to other municipalities. Or is that not viable?

He asked REDISA about the slide addressing historical imbalances and asked to what extent they were successful?

Ms Edwards asked Plastics SA what their opinion was on the idea of putting tax on plastic.

What would be the impact on industry if you separate at source and what will be the impact of banning plastic completely?

She asked REDISA what they did with the rest of the money allocated to them (after financially assisting SMME’s) and wanted clarification on the number of tyres being recycled currently.

Mr Purdon asked who was actually paying for the Carbon Credits, he suggested to the mentioned sites in Durban and Cape Town. He asked REDISA what levy they were paid and the amount of tyres sold in a year. How many tyres are collected a month and what REDISA pay for those tyres. He asked for clarification on the 3 000 jobs (how many waste pickers and how many permanents). He said he was partly covered by his colleague (Ms Edwards) on the SMME’s, but wanted to know what kind of SMME’s.

Ms Kekana asked if there were any rural areas that might become victims of illegal dumping.

Ms H Nyambi (ANC) asked Plastics SA if the informal employment created was spread in one province or distributed around the country.

The Chairperson said the issue of marine pollution was referred to by both Plastics SA and the DEA, but in both instances, it was a one liner. Marine pollution was a serious issue, were there any plans to avoid the pollution, particularly of plastics, in the ocean.

The issue raised in the introduction of the possible complete ban of plastic was done provocatively in the hope that Plastics SA will respond. But other than saying the rate of recycling plastic is not high in other countries, Plastics SA did not say much.  It is said by some that there is a correlation between littering in the street lessening with the ban on plastics.

The Chairperson said other issues will be discussed with the Department in a next meeting. He asked Mr Daniels if the report can be shared with the Committee. 

Mr Gordon answered that marine plastic is indeed a big issue.  Globally a few hotspots with plastics in the deep oceans were identified. Closer to home rivers take industrial leftovers and sewerage into the ocean. Because this is from land based sources it should be dealt with upstream from compliance reliance and licencing perspective. Once it is in the sea it is too late. The Department of Water and Sanitation has the mandate on licencing and compliance and enforcement of sewerage works. When it comes to coastal towns with storm water management there are problems after major rains. This was seen recently when the harbour of Durban was full of litter (a lot of it plastic) after rain. The DEA could come back with a more comprehensive presentation on how to deal with that. Micro plastics that you cannot see are in products like exfoliates accumulates and is a big problem.

Mr Gordon asked if he should respond to the question of the plastics levy.

The Chairperson replied in the negative and said the question was intended for Plastics SA. He reiterated that it was unfortunate that there was no-one present from National Treasury. He was aware that their Minister was attending the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) but NT has officials dealing with implementation of levies. The Committee would follow up with Treasury because they really need to know if the levy had the desired impact because from where he is sitting it has not. There is now also a levy on tyres. The Committee will have to wait for NT.

Mr Hanekom said there were number of projects, dealing with marine pollution specifically, taking place. Plastics SA was also involved in a number of research projects and barriers were put up in rivers. As for creating awareness, a lot is done specifically in schools along the rivers. Around three years ago, a project was done with someone who body surfed the Orange River and stopped at every school along the way to speak to the children.

Dr Anthony Ribbink, Chief Executive Officer (CEO): African Marine Waste Network for the sustainable Seas Trust (an NPO) said the Chairperson was correct in his observation and the 350kg of plastic ends up in the sea every second of every day.  That is 21 tons a minute.  This is having a massive impact and more than a million birds are killed each year as well as 300 000 dolphins, and also whales. As indicated, micro plastics are a problem:  it affects human health after absorbing toxins and landing in the food chain. Africa is the second worst polluted continent and is getting worse quite rapidly. The African Marine Waste network’s role is to develop a guide to best practice for Africa and this is a wonderful opportunity as at an upcoming conference, where the Department is expected to play a big role, there were will experts from around the world to talk about these issues. Education is extremely important, but first it must be known what it is that should be educated and how it should be educated. Another problem for Africa and also SA is that we are data poor. You cannot manage what you cannot measure.  He found the colloquium of high value and is very excited.

Mr Hanekom said the 48 000 people that were highlighted were people working on landfills and in the veld to collect plastics, making a substantial living from that on a daily basis. Separation at source will work well in metros but in rural areas there will be the challenge of logistics. Where the cost of transporting waste will be too high, putting in an incinerator or a pyrolysis plant may be a solution. In such a way, there may be enough electricity generated to run a clinic, for example. 

Regarding the banning of plastics bag, what is happening around the world is not necessarily an outright ban, but putting a price on a plastic bag. Plastics bags are seen as a single use object and because it is light the wind blows it even if it was thrown away. Separation at source will deal with the problem. In South Africa plastic bags are often reused and crocheted into mats, hats or bags.

His opinion was that a tax on plastics will destroy current activities. Promises that the levy on plastics will flow to dealing with environmental challenges did not materialise and as industry investments in certain infrastructure need to be made to stimulate and to boost the recycling industry. “If you don’t control the money it is very difficult to control the growth.”

Transformation was a constant focus and he gave examples of things Plastics SA are doing in that regard.

Regarding the question on the definition of plastics, for recyclers it is seen as in input and not as waste.  

Mr Casper du Rand, Chairperson of the PETCO Board answered the question of the 70% target by 2022 by saying that the target was developed in 2004 and that over the last 13 years PETCO did not miss targets. They are currently at 55% and on the way to achieve the 70%. If government became involved PETCO would see changes, with the issue of free riders for example.

Mr Parkin answered that at Marianhill they send all their Carbon Credits to the World Bank and that from Bisasar Road they have sold Carbon Credits to Nedbank, who claim to be Carbon neutral but need to buy Credits to be Carbon neutral.  Credits were also sold to British Petroleum. Currently there is nearly 700 000 Carbon Credits sitting in stock pile and they are waiting to see if there will be Carbon Tax in South Africa, for that will improve the price.

The Chairperson said perhaps Mr Purdon wanted more details on Carbon Tax.

Mr Parkin said that was not his area of expertise but that he understood it as “being charged for pollution.” A level is set up and if that level is not achieved by various industries they pay (at the moment the talk is R120 per ton) per ton of exceeding that mark. 

Mr Purdon asked how a value is put to Carbon Credits?

Mr Parkin answered that they received R13 million for the Carbon Credits sold to the World Bank. If Carbon Tax comes to South Africa it will make the city of eThekwini R100 million in five years.

This did not answer Mr Purdon’s question but it was left there.

Mr Keraam, on the model used by the City of Cape Town, said there are about 13 models and that 12 are transferable, expandable and scalable and that the one that is not scalable has an issue around the “co-op”, local co-ops have been dealt with in the city – successfully only for a limited time. A lot of work still needs to be done. The City of Cape Town is prepared to engage with anyone who wants to engage with them, smaller municipalities as well because the nuances in those smaller municipalities helps the City of Cape Town to see the cracks in their own models. He invited anyone in the House to contact him via the details that were on the presentation. 

Mr Erdman said about 98% of their SMME’s are 90% black owned.  They are made up with transporters, depots, pre-processors, processors and associations for micro collectors.3000 jobs are made up with about 168 employees at head office, about 303 processors, 459 transporters, roughly 200 depots, 27 processors and then there is also pre-processors and about 1 500 micro collectors. REDISA used to collect at R2.3O per kilogram tyre.  

Regarding how REDISA spend their money Mr Erdman said they have never failed an audit and that, after criticisms, a full forensic audit was done that they also passed.

Mr Makhubele said the real question on transformation goes beyond SMME’s because SMME’s need to grow to competing in the same space as the main stream economy. According to him the response was not satisfactory for REDISA as well as for Plastics SA (who has been around for a long time) He said the Committee may encourage the organisation to do more in that regard.

Mr Erdman said he concurred 100% and that there were now examples of fully functioning businesses that operate separately from REDISA now.

Mr Hanekom said that was noted as well.

The Chairperson said Mr Makhubele made an important point. Transformation is an imperative that has to be embraced not for welfare purposes but as a fundamental part of doing business in the country. It has been a very productive session. The spotlight will be on the oceans next. He thanked all that attended the colloquium.

The meeting was adjourned.

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