Food loss and waste voluntary agreement virtual launch: Word of support address delivered by Minister Creecy

29 September 2020

 

Program Director, Ms Tyikwe
Representative of the European Union
Leaders and members of Consumer Goods Council

Ladies and gentlemen

We are here today to launch the Food Loss and Waste Voluntary Agreement that has been in the works between the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA), the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF). 

I would like to thank all that are present at this important event where we are seeing first-hand, the benefit, impact and significance of meaningful co-operation between government and the private sector for the betterment of our environment and all its inhabitants.

Food waste needs to be curbed.  In the modern world we now all understand that natural resources are not infinite. South Africa is already one of the 30 driest countries on earth. Climate change and environmental degradation threaten our water resources. This in turn impacts on agricultural production and long term food security.

We all need to find new solutions that enable sustainable consumption and production patterns. Alternative methods of farming are already being used that are making agriculture more sustainable which also ensure resource efficiency. Reducing food loss and waste can contribute to environmental sustainability by lowering production costs and increasing the efficiency of food systems.

A better understanding of environmental and social impacts of products and services is needed, both of product life cycles and how these are affected by use within current lifestyles.

Government’s Partnership with the Consumer Goods Council and the  co-operation with the SA-EU Dialogue Facility have been instrumental in the development of the Voluntary Agreement which will assist South Africa in reducing food waste in line with: Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 (Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture); SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities); and SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production/Circular Economy), and also showcase the value of public-private partnerships in developing innovative strategies that bolster the Circular Economy. 

This voluntary agreement helps us do three important things:

  • develop a web-based food waste reporting system for the voluntary agreement (VA) signatories for effective monitoring ;
  • map South African food waste hotspots  to support the VA; and
  • develop a South African food waste knowledge hub, which is an online platform geared towards information and best-practise sharing

The journey leading up to today’s launch has been a long one. It has required consistent government and private sector co-operation and collaboration. It has also required great minds to come together and map out a trajectory that the country will follow which will unlock and assist the establishment of new business opportunities related to food and plastic waste emanating from the food supply chain – leading to job creation and growth in the national GDP.

I wish to extend my appreciation for the efforts that have been made by the CGCSA and stakeholders that have been a part of this journey in taking a concept and operationalising it into a ‘blueprint’ that food producers, manufacturers, retail outlets and consumers can look to as a guiding document in waste reduction strategies and resource efficiency in order to assist South African consumer goods companies to contribute and benefit from a healthy sustainable eco-system in South Africa by reducing food and plastic waste.

The development and ultimate launch of the Voluntary Agreement has opened up various opportunities. For instance, the agreement has facilitated the formation of partnerships through a network of global leaders and innovators that have collaborated, shared knowledge and sought solutions that will address food and plastic waste within the food value chain in South Africa

Similarly, leading food retailers in South Africa have signalled their commitment to initiatives to reduce food waste in their businesses in line with the SDG. 12.3 which aims to halve global food loss and waste by 2030.

The Agreement also provides opportunities for awareness raising amongst the general public and industry on the true state of waste and its impacts on the environment and human health. Such awareness raising and public education can see an increase in food being redistributed and surplus food being donated to registered NGOs.

These are but a few beneficial outcomes that have transpired since the conceptualisation of the Voluntary Agreement. However, the enemy to progress is complacency, which is why my Department is constantly working towards meeting our goals as a country.

One of the announcements made by Cabinet this month is the approval of the National Waste Management Strategy 2020. The Strategy sets the priority areas for the implementation of the National Environmental Management Waste Act.  This includes driving the circular economy; implementing a varied regulatory system; creating jobs and Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises; promoting public awareness and supporting waste service delivery all in the context of a circular economy. 

The National Waste Management Strategy 2020 builds on the lessons from the implementation of that 2011 strategy.  It will guide government policy and strategic interventions for the waste sector and is aligned and responsive to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Agenda 2030 adopted by all United Nations (UN) member States. It is also aligned and responsive to South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP): Vision 2030 which is our country’s specific response to, and integration of the SDGs into our overall socio-economic development plans.

Central to the strategy’s success is the concept of extended producer responsibility which means producers have responsibility for the full life cycle of a product until this product can be recycled or reused. Public private partnerships are central to ensuring success of the extended producer responsibility concept.

We believe continued co-operation with the CGCSA and other key stakeholders will help us actively seek out new innovative ways to deal with the waste management in South Africa.  

DEFF will continue to forge new partnerships, strengthen existing ones and support initiatives that will catalyse the reduction of waste whilst strengthening the Circular Economy.

Thank you.

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Albi Modise
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