How smart waste management and recycling can benefit economy

Friday, May 5, 2017

Durban – The reality of the worst drought since 1940s peaking in parts of Africa is threatening many economies on the continent.

Millions of people are facing the peak effect of severe drought that hit parts of the continent resulting in famine. The situation is being exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

These are some of the issues being raised at World Economic Forum on Africa that began in Durban on Wednesday. Now South Africa’s Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa says the continent’s leaders would have to embrace new technologies to address the drought situation which is not only threatening economic growth but livelihoods are also in jeopardy.

Speaking to SAnews on the side-lines of the Durban meeting, Minister Molewa said strong discussions were being held to discuss solutions to the economic and social challenges that have been brought about by the drought crisis.

“Drought doesn’t affect only communities, it affects businesses as well, the session that I attended this morning was on climate change. The good thing about the WEF meeting is that it takes out whatever that has been agreed before on the issue of climate change, and work out its implementation mechanism.

“So here in Durban we are discussing the real practically. What can these companies who are here do to address the situation, what should they prioritise,” said Minister Molewa.

“For instance, we think that agriculture is suffering so we need to come up with a climate smart agriculture. What that means is that farmers should be assisted with technology that will enable them to use less water and still produce food. That is a serious discussion we are having.”

Minister Molewa indicated that one of the leading companies, presented at the WEF Africa meeting, has been working in 15 countries to assist farmers with new technology that allows them to use less water in their farming without negatively affecting production.

In South Africa, big companies such as Nestle and SA Breweries have also come on board in the quest to save water in agriculture and have pumped in money in several initiatives, Molewa said.

Earlier, the Minister took part in a dialogue aimed at exploring economic opportunities in the waste management and recycling industry.

The SA-EU Dialogue on Circular Economy aims at discussing opportunities in this area both in terms of economic and environmental perspective.

The seminar is taking place in parallel to WEF Africa, which has circular economy on its agenda.

Minister Molewa, who addressed the gathering together with EU Director-General for Environment Daniel Calleja, in Durban, said that circular economy aims to increase the efficiency of resource use, with special focus on urban and industrial waste, to achieve a better balance and harmony between economy, environment and society.

“As a sustainable development model, the idea behind the Circular Economy simple as it keeps resources at their highest possible level of value at all times thus eliminating the very idea of waste, and leaving 'enough for all forever,” she said.

Waste in the context of circular economy is broader than physical rubbish. It also refers to product end-of-life as well as the enormous under-utilisation of products and assets in markets, the Minister said.

With the right business model, products could remain in the economy much longer than a day, and consumption rates of everything from cars to consumer goods could increase tenfold by utilising innovative sharing models.

“Most notably, the Circular Economy encourages companies to think about how goods can be designed, produced and marketed with reuse in mind,” said Minister Molewa. –