Government affirms its commitment to recycling economy and job creation at the National Waste Management Sector

11 March 2015


The Department of Environmental Affairs has today 11 March 2015 concluded a three day inaugural National Waste Management Summit held inWhite River, Mpumalanga. Convened under the theme - War on Waste, Driving the recycling economy in South Africa, the summit emphasised the creation of a radical approach to enable an environment conducive for economic growth within the waste management sector.

The summitbrought together over 500 government representatives, waste management practitioners, academia and civil society to device means to accelerate the notion of recycling economy by eliminating bottlenecks in the waste management sector. It provided a platform for robust, constructive, and technical engagements on waste management priorities for the country. Discussions revolved around   planning and governance; waste service delivery and infrastructure development for effective waste management. These issues need urgent attention from all spheres of government and the waste management industry at large.

Opening the Summit on Monday, Environmental Affairs Minister Mrs. Edna Molewa acknowledged that waste is a serious problem in South Africa, which adversely affects the integrity of the natural environment. “The Waste Information baseline study that my Department conducted in 2011 revealed that approximately 108 million tons of waste generated, of which 97 million was disposed to landfill. Only 10% of the generated waste is South Africa was recycled in 2011. This tells us that we have a problem. South Africa needs to change! We are a “throwaway” society, and there is a need for a paradigm shift.”

Further deliberations focused on issues such as co-regulatory approaches for effective waste management in accordance to the requirements of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008) (NEMWA). The NEMWA has been enacted to amongst other matters give a clear division of roles, responsibilities, and mandatory obligations for the three spheres of government, private sector and civil society. This legislative alignment governing waste demonstrates the government’s ambition for a clean environment and a healthy society in South Africa.

The waste management sector has viable economic opportunities that the summit acknowledged still need to be unlocked. It is for this reason that government and other relevant institutions are exploring the notion of recycling economy.

Minister Molewa urged delegates to enhance their effort in dealing with waste management with an intention of contributing to South Africa’s economic growth and job creation through the notion of recycling economy. “As waste management practitioners, academics, industry, civil society and the general public, we have to come to the realization that business as usual in waste management will is inadequate. We need to rise to the challenge and develop innovative ideas on how we can improve waste management systems in the country to drive the recycling economy.”

The waste recycling economy 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. It is through this economic ingenuity that the DEA will also contribute to sustainable development and inclusive green economic growth by facilitating employment creation, infrastructure, skills development and strengthening Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the waste management sector.

In 2011, Cabinet approved the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) which paves the way for exploration of recycling economy as a mechanism to improve socio-economic conditions in South Africa. Effective exploration of this ground-breaking notation requires effective coordination and full cooperation of the stakeholders and role players in the waste management industry. In this regard, the industry will be able to upsurge creation of much needed jobs for the people whilst also providing environmental health benefits for communities, thereby responding to the aspirations of the National Development Plan.

To read the Minister Molewa’ speech, following the link below:

>> Minister Edna Molewa’s keynote address during the National Waste Management Summit

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Albi Modise
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