SA Must Learn To Turn Its 108 Million Tons Of Waste To Wealth


South Africa generates 108-million ton of waste every year with a resource value of R25.2-billion. But with current technological advancements, SA is expected to have introduced more means of transforming the growing waste to wealth.

But with current technological advancements, SA is expected to have introduced more means of transforming the growing waste to wealth.

The demand for resources and the pressure to provide basic needs have continuously increased with the growing population.

Last year the Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa announced the ministry’s plan to introduce  a Paper and Packaging Industry Plan that will help bring significant change in the current waste management by separating at source from household levels.

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Though this is in the process, it is believed that when companies that could turn the waste to wealth- particularly by generating useful things from the accumulated wastes- are established, it would not only manage our wastes but also create employment.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said “it unlocks the economic potential of this waste streak,” as about 3,000 jobs and 200 small, medium, and micro enterprises and co-operatives had been established through implementation of the waste tyre management plan.

World Bank 2012 said Africa generates nearly 70 million tonnes of waste every year. As the income and spending power of the average African continues to rise, more goods will be consumed leading to even more waste.

It placed South Africa 15th in the world for waste generation with an average South African generating about 24 1/2 tons of waste in their lifetime. However, only 10 percent of which is recycled.

Meanwhile, in a way to fast-track effective implementation of the NEMWA, the department had developed a National Waste Management Strategy, which would promote waste minimisation, reuse, recycling, and recovery of waste to wealth.

In line with this strategy, ENCA noted that at least 77% of recyclable waste would be diverted from landfill sites by 2019.

“The implementation of an industry plan for the paper and packaging waste stream will put the value to this waste stream and facilitate the establishment and operation of businesses within this sector. In doing so we hope we will in future not see all this waste on our streets as it will move from being ‘waste’ to being a ‘resource’,” Molewa reportedly said.

“As such, government and [the] waste industry are exploring the notion of [a] recycling economy, which is an exciting approach that will not only eliminate threats to environmental quality and its integrity, but also positively contribute to the growth and development of South Africa’s economy,” she added

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While municipal solid waste is increasing faster than urbanization, much rubbish doesn’t even get to sites.

Stacey Davidson, director of recycling company Redisa, said we all had to deviate from seeing waste as waste but as wealth. Our economic model needs to change to one of a circular nature. Products need to be designed to be re-used, recycled, instead of thrown away, let’s turn our wastes to wealth,” he said.