THE recent announcement of the European Commission’s new Circular Economy Package has been regarded by many as a step backwards, rather than a push for more ambitious targets.
The revised package has been brought in line with the reduced waste targets, leaving many commentators disgruntled.
While the European Union (EU) continues to debate the best way to implement a circular economy, SA is leading the way. The integrated pyrolysis plant business plan approved by the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2012, and used by the EU in defining how this economic approach can be brought to life, embodies the principles the EU is now proposing.
The approach is being widely recognized internationally and the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of SA (Redisa) was recently announced as a runner-up in The Circulars 2016, in the Circular Economy Governments, Cities and Regions category.
THIS category recognizes a public policy initiative that best enables an environment for the circular economy to develop and flourish.
The Circulars 2016 in Davos were hosted by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Accenture.
We are honoured to have been recognised for our efforts in implementing a circular economy approach in SA but, more importantly, for gaining an opportunity to profile SA as an innovative emerging economy on an international platform. The timing for the successful implementation of the Redisa approach couldn’t be better as, from the many industry conversations being held across the world, it is clear that the need for a sustainable approach in business has moved to the core of many organisations.
Discussions on food, energy, water and, of course, climate change have dominated. But this is not just about sustainability, it is about reassessing the way we do business and, more importantly, about value creation.
Natural resource constraints are driving businesses to seek alternatives to traditional production and manufacturing processes. For us, true sustainability is sustainable development. It means balancing economic growth, infrastructure development and creating small business opportunities, as well as jobs — and, as a positive side effect, lowering our emissions and effect on the environment.
There is strong evidence that by achieving circularity in the economy we are able to achieve that, and more.
For example, the Institute of Race Relations last year found that there is huge potential in the country to create circular economies that generate wealth from waste.
The circular economy approach could successfully be used to recover and recycle plastic waste, along with waste from agriculture, organic chemical processes, and mining operations, to name a few.
This would generate major socioeconomic benefits, going far beyond what has already been achieved in the waste tyre sector.
We believe that with waste comes opportunity, and by looking at waste differently through a circular lens, we can only grow as an economy.
As we look to the year ahead as a business, we reflect on the year gone by, its milestones and challenges. In less than three years, we have made great strides in the development of an entirely new industry with a national infrastructure and footprint.
NOT unexpectedly, since implementation, we have picked up a number of lessons and our strategy for this year is to continue to meet the requirements as outlined in the Redisa plan, particularly in line with supporting the development of small, medium and micro-sized entrepreneurs and recyclers. This will further drive growth of the tyre-recycling industry.
This development will be achieved predominantly through investment in infrastructure, business support and research into new applications for waste.
We remain focused on our goal to develop the industry and ensure that we achieve 100% circularity in all sectors, because in the long run, it is not negotiable. The achievement of circularity is absolutely necessary; our only choices are in the route we follow to get there.