Cape Town – An important dialogue about the circular economy took place yesterday to encourage businesses and consumers to get involved in sustainable practices, particularly in honour of Recycling Week.
The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (Deff) and private sectors came together to discuss the various circular economy approaches one should focus on.
The approach is to ensure that while businesses and society are being developed, the environment is also being protected.
Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy said: “For many countries, placing their economies on a more sustainable growth path is central to these strategies. South Africa has also realised that green industries can open up new possibilities for development and assist in creating much-needed jobs.”
The strategy is aimed towards promoting the waste hierarchy and circular economy principles, while achieving socio-economic benefits and reducing the negative environmental impacts.
Creecy said the main three pillars of the strategy are to promote waste minimisation, create efficient and effective waste services, and awareness raising, compliance monitoring and enforcement.
Deff has initiated an Extended Producer Responsibility on paper and packaging products, electrical and electronic equipment and lighting after a long consultation process.
“This will make a significant contribution in the diversion of waste from land filling, thereby increasing the recycling rate to achieve the objectives of the National Waste Management Strategy. This also charts the new approach to the management of waste in South Africa,” Creecy said.
Greendesign founder and 2019 Circular Economy Youth Ambassador 2019 Vere Shaba said: “We need to introduce the concept and principle of the circular economy in all schools and universities across the country.
The economic curriculum continuously teaches students about the linear economy, which is about consumption and disposal. It always looks at economic growth without looking at the impact that this growth would have on the environment. We need to fully integrate the circular economy into every discipline.”
Shaba said the road map for the circular economy coming up is something that students should start learning about as a first principle.
There is a lot of potential around the youth’s voice. Their voice needs to be present in these policy working groups and delegations because there are certain things that the youth can see which people within the policy working groups may not observe.
Feroz Koor, Woolworths Group head of Sustainability, said: “We make sure to communicate and educate customers around food waste. We use social media platforms, customer emailing lists to educate customers. They also need to understand their role to ensure food waste is minimised.”
Koor said food that does not reach quality standards is donated to charity. Unsold food that is still edible and safe for human consumption is donated.