The Packaging Council of South Africa (Pacsa) is finalising the packaging and paper industry’s Industry Waste Management Plan to efficiently manage workable waste management solutions.
The council says it was tasked by the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2009, following the implementation of the Waste Act, which came into effect from July 2009, with creating the Industry Waste Management Plan.
Pacsa executive director Andrew Marthinusen says the plan, which will soon be released, focuses on how to increase recycled waste from 44.5% in 2009 to 51% over the next five years. It will also focus on ways to ensure that everyone in the packaging supply chain, from homes to the public sector, reduces waste effectively by applying, where appropriate, the waste hierarchy.
He notes that, in 2009, the packaging industry consumed 3.46-million tons of waste and recycled about 44.5% of that amount. “This is a significant amount and we want to ensure that the plan builds on the successful voluntary initiatives that are already in place to increase the rate of waste being recycled.”
Pacsa says the action plan has two significant aims. The first is to ensure a better reverse supply chain from the user back to the recycler, especially household waste, which requires proper systems for effective management.
“There needs to be a system where households separate waste into two bags, one for wet waste, which includes food refuse, and one for dry waste, which includes plastics, metal and paper packaging, as well as other papers, such as newspapers and mail. There will be a variety of different models to get the separated waste to material recycling facilities, which will separate the waste further for delivery to the recycling industries. There are few such facilities in the country but, with government and municipal assistance, this is achievable,” he explains.
The other aim is to ensure that there are markets to consume the recycled waste to create a vibrant industry where there is a balance between demand and supply.
Pacsa has studied models in both the First World and the developing world to assist in finding the best solutions for South Africa. It has also engaged with the waste industry, as well as the South African Waste Pickers Association to ensure the plan does not exclude any sector of importance.
Pacsa expects the overall development phase of the action plan to cost R3-million, with about R2-million already spent.
The council says government plays a significant role in the implementation of the action plan.
Marthinusen explains that there is no single solution to managing waste in the South African context because there are different communities that have different needs. For example, the wealthier commu- nities who create more waste, pay for its removal through municipal levies and would expect this to continue once they have separated the waste, whereas poorer communities could take their waste to a buyback centre and this could be a source of income.
Pacsa notes the process of encouraging people to separate their waste needs an effective communication programme, supported, if necessary, by municipal regulations. There are a number of promising pilot schemes already under way in South Africa.