Minister Barbara Creecy hosts the 2020 feedback session for plastics colloquium on the 12 November 2020
Plastic has been around since the 1950s and its versatility has ensured its use in almost every aspect of modern life. The proliferation of plastic products has been attributed to the material being water-proof, durable, versatile and cheap. Plastics and the plastic products industry contributed around R70bn to South Africa’s economy in 2019 – and according to Plastics SA, an estimated 60,000 people are employed in the plastics industry. It is estimated that 58 700 informal collectors and reclaimers are active in the waste sector.
Plastic products are used by almost every sector of the economy. Various sectors of the global economy benefit from numerous plastic use applications. Projections are that the global plastics economy is growing at a rate of 4% on an annual basis. The South African economy benefits from the plastics economy. The building and construction, agriculture, automotive, electrical and electronic, mining and engineering sectors all continue to benefit from this thriving plastics economy.
However, plastic pollution has a significant impact on our very important eco-system services: those crucial services nature provides free of charge. Plastic waste undermines the flood absorption and water storage capacity of our wetlands.
Plastic pollution threatens our oceans, catchments, river systems and estuaries and the crucial services they provide for people and nature. Addressing the 2019 Plastics Colloquium, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Minister Barbara Creecy, used the event to challenge citizens to understand the problem that plastic waste is creating for people and our environment, when not well managed.
We are all going to have to change our behaviour: those of us who separate our waste at home must wash out containers (do not use clean water to do this!) before we dump it; those of us who like fast food need to demand alternative products to package our burgers, chicken and coffees. When we shop we must take our recycled shopping bags and not demand new plastic bags. We must stop throwing waste out of car windows or dropping it where we eat. We must teach our children to love their country and their environment.
The Department wants to see consumers challenging their favourite stores, and retailers challenging their suppliers so that they come up with real, and sustainable solutions. With the proper co-ordination and consumer action, voluntary change can be a sustainable and cost effective solution. The South African plastics industry is already looking at local innovations to give these products a second, sustainable life amongst others in the building, construction and furniture-making industries.
Importantly, the global plastic waste pollution challenges the take-make-use-dispose approach to production and consumption. There is no waste in a Circular Economy – when a person has finished with something it becomes the raw material for something else. Plastics are not just inexpensive, lightweight and durable materials, which can be readily molded into a variety of products that find use in a wide range of applications, but also hold substantial benefits and have remained part of people’s lives for many years.
In September this year, Cabinet approved the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) 2020, which was developed in terms of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act.
This strategy is a revision and update of the 2011 strategy and builds on the successes and lessons from the implementation of that strategy. The NWMS 2020 is broadly focused on preventing waste and diverting waste from landfill by leveraging the concept of the Circular Economy to drive sustainable, inclusive economic growth and development in the waste sector, while reducing the social and environmental impacts of waste. Its implementation plan will create jobs in the waste sector and increase awareness and compliance around waste.
There are three overarching pillars of the revised National Waste Management Strategy 2020. In terms of Waste Minimisation, the aim is to prevent waste. Where waste cannot be prevented, 40% should be diverted from landfill within 5 years through reuse, recycling, recovery and alternative waste treatment: 25% of waste reduction in waste generation; and 20% waste reused in the economic value chain. Effective and Sustainable Waste Services would see all South Africans living in clean communities with waste services that are well managed and financially sustainable. Waste Awareness and Compliance is aimed at creating a culture of compliance with zero tolerance of pollution, litter and illegal dumping.
Among the significant strategic shifts from the 2011 strategy in the NWMS 2020, was the need to address the role of waste pickers and the informal sector in the Circular Economy, promoting product design packaging that reduces waste or encourages reuse, repair and preparation for recycling, and support markets for source separated recyclables. NWMS 2020 also investigates potential regulatory or economic interventions to increase participation rates in residential separation at source programmes, alongside investing in the economies associated with transporting of recyclables to waste processing facilities and addressing the skills gaps within the sector.
On the 26th June 2020 Barbara Creecy Minister published Government Notice 718 of Government Gazette 43481, Consultation on the proposed regulations regarding extended producer responsibility and Government Notice 719 of Government Gazette 43482, Consultation on the proposed extended producer responsibility scheme for paper, packaging and some single use products.
As per the OECD Guidance Manual for Governments on Extended Producer Responsibility” (EPR) is defined as “an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle”. EPR is based on the premise that the primary responsibility for waste generated during the production process (including extraction of raw materials) and after the product is discarded, is that of the producer of the product.
On the 6 August 2020 Minister Barbara Creecy published Government Gazette 43601, Amendments to the plastic carrier bags and plastic flat bags regulations of 2003, for public comments for 30 days with a deadline of the 7th September 2020. This regulation is intended to create a demand for the used plastic carrier bags, as recyclate. The value of the bags will increase and fewer bags will leak into the environment or enter the municipal landfill waste stream i.e. bags will have value for collection for recycling. Collection of bags at the landfill would also be beneficial as waste collectors can sell these to the recyclers.
The use of recyclate rather than virgin plastic to manufacture plastic carrier bags reduces the depletion of natural resource and thus reduces the manufacturing environmental footprint. These milestones were recorded since the hosting of the first Plastic Colloquium last year that was led by Minister Barbara Creecy.
On the 12th November 2020, Minister Barbara Creecy will host the 2020 Feedback Session that is aimed at taking stock of what has happened since the hosting of the 2019 Colloquium. The Colloquium is hosted jointly with the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) and Plastics SA.
The colloquium’s main objectives are to:
- Create a platform to engage representatives of government, private sector and civil society in building more effective partnerships to enhance plastic waste management.
- Promote discussions on sustainable management of plastic waste in the country.
- Create a national platform for the exchange of information on best practice, and identify and address bottlenecks with regards to management of plastic waste in the country.
- Identify the key economic opportunities that could be realised from plastic waste and discuss how to incorporate the informal sector in plastic waste recycling.
- Deliberate on mechanisms for the effective delivery of waste management services by municipalities and support thereof.
- To deliberate on technologies for plastic waste management suitable for South Africa.
Theme: plastic waste and the circular economy
What has happend since the last colloquium?
- Working Groups (including relevant and affected stakeholders) have a better understanding of the progress and challenges so far, against the set priorities agreed at the Plastic Colloquium 2019.
- Working Groups (including relevant and affected stakeholders) have a better understanding of thevarious interventions implemented by stakeholders across the plastic value chain: What have they done in 2020? At what level of the value chain? What worked (success stories)? Priorities moving forward.
Priority Setting for 2021
- Working Groups (including relevant and affected stakeholders) understand the way forward to develop the Plastic Waste Master Plan for South Africa and their role in it
- Collective inputs on key priorities moving forward for 2021
- Agreement on next Colloquium, role of the SA Initiative to End Plastic Waste moving forward for 2021
Thank You for joining me today so we can take stock of the work done since our first the 1st Plastic Colloquium held in November 2019.
The fact that we are meeting in this virtual form and amid these trying times, confirms our common understanding of the urgency to address plastic waste. It is underlines our willingness to hold each other accountable for the commitments we made last year...