Functioning of Waste Bureau; Progress in Waste Tyre Management

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

25 May 2021
Chairperson: Mr P Modise (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed in a virtual meeting by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on the functioning of the Waste Bureau, and its progress in implementing the country's waste tyre management plan.

The Bureau said it was mandated with responsibility for tyre waste management since October 2017, after the withdrawal of the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (Redisa) plan. It would focus on its broader waste mandate after the finalisation and implementation of Section 29 of the Industry Waste Management Plan in 2021/22. The development of the Plan by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Council (CSIR) had cost around R2.2 million.

The Committee asked about the Bureau's financial state, and was informed that its operational costs for the current financial year would be about R384 million, and would be funded by a levy imposed on the tyre industry. Members asked if the Department had considered using municipal drop-off sites and having them accredited for the collection of tyre waste. What was the progress on tyre-derived fuel?

Why was there such a huge disparity in the storage sites for used tyres  in different provinces? A Member suggested the distant location of storage sites was a drawback. The Department undertook to improve its compliance and monitoring framework to deal with mushrooming backyard waste tyre industries, which were contributors to environmental pollution.

Meeting report



Ms Tyhileka Madubela, Committee Secretary, announced that the Chairperson, Mr F Xasa (ANC), would not join and chair the meeting due to load shedding in East London. Mr Modise was therefore elected as the Acting Chairperson.

DEFF on waste tyre management

Mr Obed Baloyi, Acting Head: Waste Bureau, Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), and Ms Mamogala Musekene, Deputy Director-General: Chemicals and Waste Management, DEFF, reported to the Committee on the Waste Bureau's progress with waste tyre management.

The Waste Bureau had taken responsibility for waste tyre management since 1 October 2017, after the withdrawal of the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (Redisa) plan. The Bureau would exit this operation after the finalisation and implementation of Section 29 of the Industry Waste Management Plan (IWMP) in 2021/22. The Bureau would then focus on their broader mandate, expressed in Section 34 of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (NEMWA).
 
There were 28 depots across the country. Gauteng had most of the depots (eight,) while the Northern Cape has the fewest (one).

The Bureau had been challenged with the development of processing capacity since it started managing waste tyre operations. Some of the contracted processors had stopped their operations in 2019 due to expired licenses, contract disputes and non-profitability.

The processing performance was further affected in 2020/21 due to shred supply challenges and COVID-19 impacts.  There was a low demand for products, and some of the processors were not online, and could therefore not resume the activities after the gradual ease of the lockdown.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the team for presenting and asked the Committee to comment.

Discussion

Mr N Paulsen (EFF) asked how much it cost to design and implement the plan highlighted by the Bureau in the presentation.  What did one get in return for these recycled tyres? Who were they selling the product of these recycled tyres to? He said it was very important for the Committee to know the financial state of the Bureau.

Mr D Bryant (DA) said that tyre-derived fuel had been mentioned but not fully discussed in the presentation.  What was the progress on tyre-derived fuel? Where would the fuel be used? Was it going to be sold? How was the whole process envisaged to take place?

Regarding section 29 of the IWMP, he asked Mr Baloyi to confirm that the plan would be finalised at the beginning of the next financial year. How far along was the plan?  How was the DEFF dealing with prosecutions over non-compliance for dumping. He knew this responsibility was usually given to the municipalities to police, and that it was a huge challenge, especially in one of the constituencies that he looked after, in Delft and the surrounding areas, where one saw dumped tyres all over the place.

Mr Bryant said that the tyre levy put too much pressure on the stakeholders in the tyre and vehicle industry regarding tyre disposal. He asked the presenting team if the tyre levy issue had come up as a point of concern from the people within the industry in regard to their own limitations in dealing with tyre waste.  He said the combined size of the tyre depots in Gauteng was 127 417 square meters, while the City of Cape Town -- the second big metro in the country -- had 24 220 square meters, which was 100 000 sq meters smaller. Also, the Cape Town depot was situated in Atlantis, an hour's drive away from the metro. The distance was making it extremely difficult for people to go and transport tyre waste at this drop-off site. Even North West and Limpopo had more tyre processing space than the Western Cape. Why was the DEFF not currently using municipal drop-off sites, and having them accredited for the collection of tyre waste?

Ms C Phillips (DA) asked what could be done to incentivise people to drop tyres off for recycling at depots, rather than burning them, particularly at the Rustenburg landfill site. She pointed out that the site had been awarded millions of rands in municipal infrastructure grants (MIGs) from the National Treasury to set up a state-of-the-art landfill site. The money had been spent, but all there was currently was a hole in the ground. All the buildings had been vandalised by the same people who were supposed to be employed at this facility. Could the Rustenburg landfill site be included in the agenda when the Committee visited some of the landfill sites in future?

Ms S Mbatha (ANC) said she had noticed a mushrooming backyard tyre industry around Marabastad and Pretoria West, where up-and-coming businesses were making money. Had the Bureau looked at this backyard tyre industry, because in the end these tyres were burned during riots on the streets, contributing to pollution? Most of the owners of this mushrooming tyre industry were not even South African citizens

She had seen youths and some communities taking the initiative of creating furniture from recycled tyres. How did the Bureau empower or support them?  Recycled tyres could be used during the establishment of homestead backyard gardens, when there was limited space to plant. How best could one utilise this initiative for schools that did not have space for food gardens?

She referred to government departments as a source for tyres, as they had their own areas where they fixed their vehicles. Had the Waste Bureau tried to introduce programmes for government departments to manage tyre recycling?  The use of recycled tyres as a source of energy through shedding was practised in Japan, and she had also seen one of the service providers during her tenure at the Department of Public Works. She stressed that the shredding of tyres should be considered as an alternative to reduce the illegal dumping of tyres, and as an energy source. She was happy with the presentation, and she knew from experience that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was the best company when it came to waste management issues.

Mr N Singh (IFP) asked about the broader waste management objectives of the Waste Bureau, beyond tyre management. Could it inform us the Committee at some stage what it did regarding other waste issues, such as the oil industry? Does it work with its sister departments, or ensure that there were audits conducted on all sewerage plants in the country? Did the Waste Bureau have any responsibility for river pollution, as all the rubbish from the rivers ended up in the sea, killing sea life through waste and plastic?

The Acting Chairperson asked Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala, Director-General (DG), DEFF, to clarify its position on Redisa. Where was Redisa, and was it still an agent of the Bureau?

DEFF's response

Ms Tshabalala said Redisa had been contracted to manage the waste tyres on behalf of the DEFF.  However, it had been inefficient in addressing the waste tyre management plan.  The Department had therefore terminated its relationship with Redisa in 2017, so the Waste Bureau was temporarily tasked with the mandate to improve the efficiency of tyre waste management. The CSIR was currently assisting the Department with a waste management plan. There were ongoing engagements to address the key challenges, and the plan would hopefully be finalised in March 2022.

She said the Committee was correct that according to section 34 (d) of the Waste Management Act, the Waste Bureau was tasked with mandates beyond tyre waste management. However, with the current challenges, the Bureau could not operate beyond tyre waste management. They were waiting for the CSIR’s plan so that the industry waste management could be implemented in totality by the Bureau, in alignment with section 34 (d) of the Waste Management Act.

The budget for the Waste Bureau’s operational costs for the current financial year was about R384 million. She agreed that there was no rationale behind the distribution and size of the depots. The industry in Gauteng was huge, but there should be a clear rationale for other provinces with large industries. The DFFE was looking to improve the efficiency of the whole value chain of tyre waste management plans.

Mr Baloyi said that the R384 million budget covered the storage facilities (due to limited capacity), tyre dealers, transport and micro-pickers. The responsibility for the funding of the tyre waste management in the country lay with the industry. The funding was received through tyre levy paid into the South African Revenue Service (SARS).  Instead of the government paying money for the management of the tyre waste, the tyre industry was told they must be the ones to provide the resources for managing the waste that they ultimately generated. The expenditure on waste tyre management basically came from the levy so that there was a cleaner environment and reduced illegal tyre dumping.

Mr Baloyi said there were two applications that could utilise the tyre-derived fuel. The first application was when energy was recovered from burning waste tyres instead of coal. The Waste Bureau was in contact with the industries that were more experienced in the energy aspect of tyre-derived fuel. The second application was pyrolysis, which involved the extraction of fuel from tyres. The by-products of pyrolysis were fuel and black carbon. The challenge with fuel derived from the tyre was the contribution towards reduced air quality. The companies that were involved had to be equipped with technical skills to ensure the air quality of the oil that would be needed. 

He said the Bureau was currently engaging with municipalities with regard to storage space and increasing the processing capacity in the different provinces.  The incentives were for micro-collectors (waste pickers) that collected leaked waste tyres from the environment, back to proper management, where they apply the reuse, recycle and recover method. The Bureau was looking at options described in the presentation (slide 6) to deal with the increased capacity needed for waste in the country.

Ms Musekene said that the development of the CSIR's section 29 IWMP plan had cost around R2.2 million, and would be finalised in the coming financial year. Informal consultations had been completed, but it would be finalised with legislature through the plan's publication in the Government Gazette for this quarter. 

She said that the municipalities were involved in the prosecutions of illegal dumping through compliance officers and the environmental management inspectors. The issue of littering was shared across different spheres in terms of nuisance management under section 27 of the IWMP.

Ms Musekene said that the incentives in the programme for micro collectors discouraged the burning of the waste tyres. With regard to small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), the DEFF was working with the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) in relation to second-hand tyres, because they were not regarded as waste.

Ms Mamogala said that the DEFF works with the Department of Water and Sanitation to regulate the Wastewater Act. Some of its policy work that was linked to plastic material, was also meant to benefit the ocean.

Ms Musekene said the Department had published the fifth amendment of the Extended Producer Responsibility schemes (EPRs) for plastic packaging and some single-use products in May. Constant monitoring and the Waste Bureau would allow for the implementation of these mandatory EPRs.

Ms Tshabalala said that the DEFF would look into improving the compliance and monitoring framework around mushrooming backyard waste tyre industries, to avoid pollution.

Follow-up questions

Mr Bryant said that the incentives, the industry and tyre levy did not solve the problem of inefficient waste tyre management. He asked the DEFF to prioritise efficient process facilities, particularly in the Western Cape and across the country. He asked for a response to Ms Phillips's comment on the Rustenburg landfill site. What was the future of that site?

Mr Baloyi said that the Waste Bureau had prioritised improving efficiency regarding the challenge of the distances from the depot sites. It would provide a response on the Rustenburg landfill site issue after engaging with the North West Province, as they did not have any details about the matter. It would provide a written response.

Committee matters

The Acting Chairperson asked for any comments on the minutes of the Committee's previous meeting held on 11 May 2021.

Ms N Gantsho (ANC) moved the adoption of the minutes, and Ms Mbatha seconded.

The minutes were adopted.

The Acting Chairperson announced that the late Ms M Tongwane (ANC), a Member of this Portfolio Committee, would be buried on Thursday in Kuruman, Mogajeneg Village. 

Ms Mbatha asked the Committee to observe a moment of silence for the deceased.

Mr Bryant offered sincere condolences on behalf of the DA to the ANC caucus and the family of Ms Tongwane for their loss.

Mr Paulsen offered condolences from the EFF to ANC and the family of the deceased. He said that Ms Tongwane would be remembered.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the Committee, and adjourned the meeting.

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