Address by Minister Molewa at the launch of the Mpact liquid packaging plant

25 July 2017

Thank you programme director,
The Mayor of City of Ekurhuleni, Councillor Mzwandile Masina;
Members of the Mayoral Council;
MPACT Group CEO, Bruce Strong and his team;
Partners, Stakeholders and;
Officials from the Department of Environmental Affairs, and Trade and Industry
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning.

Ekurhuleni is one of the rapidly growing metros in South Africa, particularly in terms of industrial output and population numbers.  Waste is one of the urban ills that most towns in metropolitan municipalities across the country are grappling with.

I believe you would agree with me therefore that any opportunity that is directed towards the minimisation of waste within the boundaries of the Metro needs to be given a sense of urgency, largely because of the high costs that municipalities have to pay to provide for waste collection services, but also due to the effects of waste on human health and the environment.

Interestingly though, is the opportunity that waste minimization efforts present towards addressing other pressing urban challenges such as job creation and SMME development.

South Africa is making strides to divert most of the most of its generated waste away from landfill.

The culture of landfilling needs to change and urgently so!

It is not surprising that the South African Government saw it fit to apply the operation Phakisa approach to the waste challenge. Some of the stakeholders are currently locked away and ensuring that they come out with the three-foot plans that would ensure Big Fast Results linked to the waste economy. I have no doubt that we are definitely on positive trajectory to move away from being a “throwaway” society, to becoming a recycling society. There is a need for such an urgent “Phakisa” paradigm shift.

To the Mpact CEO, and the team, we are truly delighted to be here today as we launch yet another exciting and ground-breaking recycling initiative – the Mpact Liquid Packaging Recycling Plant.  This cutting edge technology that you have invested in is assisting our society to manage close the loop especially linked to recycling of paper material.

This would help to divert a lot of packaging material that currently ends up in our landfill sites. We need to work together not only in ensuring that waste is managed in an environmentally sound manner, but also by working towards a sound materials-cycle society.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is important to note that Government need the society and industry to ensure sustainable materials management. 

The recycling of waste remains a significant part of the manufacturing sector. We therefore need to work together towards ensuring that the waste material finds its way back into the manufacturing chain so as to advance our commitment to circular economy and employment creation interventions, particularly within the green economy space. 

Without the participation of communities and stakeholders represented here today, waste will remain a serious challenge and the country will remain behind in finding innovative ways, such as this technology, to deal with waste.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a sad reality that some of cities are grappling with a challenge of dealing with diminishing landfill spaces, illegal dumping sites and high costs of rendering the waste management services to our communities.

As you know, the Government is committed to finding alternative and innovative ways to divert waste away from the landfill sites and convert it to valuable resources. This commitment is also echoed in the National Development Plan (NDP). 

We are looking at long term interventions that would significantly transform the waste sector to such an extent that it makes a significant contribution to the growth of the secondary materials economy that creates jobs at every level and support industrial efficiencies.

Waste management is as much a problem of behavioural change but also that of provision of the relevant infrastructure. I would like to congratulate the Mpact Group for building this state-of-the-art Liquid Packaging recycling plant which I’m told is one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

This plant will recycle approximately 25 000 tonnes per year of liquid packaging products, poly coated cups and cartons and wet strength bags and packaging, thereby saving 65 240 cubic metres of landfill space and reduce approximately 11 400 tonnes of carbon emission per annum. This is impressive indeed.

Investing in waste technologies is central towards the achievement of some of these ambitious goals we have set for ourselves as a country. 

I have to say that we are indeed making inroads in as far as this area is concerned. Over the past few years we have witnessed the growth of various technologies to deal with different types of waste streams.  We also recognise and strongly welcome the initiatives such as this one being rolled out by the private sector.

This significant contribution towards the South African Government’s objective of diverting recyclable waste away from landfill sites is to be applauded.

We therefore call on other companies operating in the packaging industry to follow suit and ensure their waste is recycled. This is good news.

I would also want to challenge the sector as a whole to support and strengthen the recyclable collection part of the value-chain. It is clear that the market uses and consumes approximately above 150,000 tonnes meanwhile this plant only handles about one-sixth of the material that is put on the market.

I have no doubt that we all know the economic potential that the waste sector presents to our country and the world in general.

Allow me to commend Mpact, for leading the way in unlocking the economic viability and opportunities presented by this industry. This is also in line with the National Waste Management Strategy, which paves the way for exploration of recycling economy as a mechanism to improve socio-economic conditions in South Africa.

It is our understanding that 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. We believe that this plant will create the much needed jobs for the people of South Africa, whilst enforcing the constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to the health and well-being of citizens.

We all need to join hands together and play specific roles in driving the recycling economy in South Africa. We are encouraged to know that the Mpact plant we are launching today will create 6 direct employment and 500 indirect employment opportunities in the collection of recyclables.

Recycling creates income opportunities, enhances skills transfer, entrepreneurial development and the growth of SMMEs. The increased demand for these recovered products creates viable commercial opportunities for collections by small businesses, and others who are able to invest with more certainty to optimise their businesses.

It is in this regard that the Department of Environmental Affairs, as part of the Industry Waste Management Plans (IWMPs) initiative, is exploring a specific plan for the Paper and Packaging sector. The core objective of these plans is to divert waste away from landfill sites, thereby creating jobs for the people of South Africa. 

As we announced during the tabling of our Budget Vote for the current financial year in Parliament, there is a need to accelerate a transition from the recycling economy to a circular economy. This is a transition that is emerging as a priority on the international political and economic policy agenda.

The concept of a circular economy was also highlighted as one of the key policy areas at the recently concluded World Economic Forum for Africa. For South Africa, growing the circular economy and broadening access to the opportunities it presents, is a fundamental part of government’s programme of radical socio-economic transformation.

The setting up of this recycling technology by Mpact serves as a good example of how waste should contribute to the realization of a circular economy. We therefore need to view this investment as significant milestone in transferring a policy statement to action. South Africa is therefore on a right track.

With more research and capacity building, I have no doubt that the concept of Circular Economy will become a reality in South Africa, as evidenced through this investment by Mpact.

As I conclude, allow me to commend the Paper Recycling Association of South Africa (PRASA), the industry body responsible for paper recycling, for its sterling job. With 68.4% recovery and recycling rate reported at the end of 2016. It is clear that the future is brighter.

To Mpact and partners, I say bravo! Well done and keep up the good work.

I thank you!