How to build knowledge and expertise for the country

JULY 7, 2016

Siyamtanda Masele from Zwide township in Port Elizabeth is studying her MTech in Chemistry at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) funded by a bursary from REDISA (Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa).

Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, recently announced that the Gauteng Department of Education would invest R80 million in the Curtis Nkondo School of Specialisation, which will focus on subjects such as engineering, maths, science, information and communications technology (ICT), commerce and entrepreneurship.

“Science surrounds us every day. It is important to us. Science technology creates many things we might be hard-pressed to live without. Every day we enjoy the many benefits of scientific discovery, technology and commerce. Science makes life easier for all of us,” said Lesufi.

In support of the new industry, REDISA partnered with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in 2013 to establish an environmental rating centre. During the five-year partnership, REDISA will provide the university with funding of R97 million for research and development (R&D). The core focus of the centre is to assess the environmental rating of tyres from production through to end-of-life, as well as conducting research on how to beneficiate materials from waste tyres.

Through the partnership, 19 young people have been given the opportunity to study further in the field of engineering at NMMU. Siyamtanda Masele from Zwide township in Port Elizabeth is one of these students. She is completing an MTech in Chemistry, focusing on the potential use of waste rubber in processing recycled plastics.

“I have always been passionate about science and technology which is why I majored in Analytical Chemistry in my undergraduate studies. Hopefully I can apply my new skills to improving the way waste tyres are used,” said Siyamtanda.

Investing in R&D is key to building knowledge and expertise for the country. For REDISA, R&D will help in dealing with the conversion of waste tyres into chemical products, as well as creating design processes for South African conditions.

When the REDISA Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan (IIWTMP) was gazetted in November 2012, a key element of the Plan was to focus on R&D to develop smarter and more efficient recycling processes. A portion of the waste management fee that REDISA collects is, thus, allocated to R&D. Through investing in R&D, REDISA is ensuring that it develops and finds new tyre recycling processes, resulting in end products of a higher quality and value, and a reduction in imports.

“With REDISA being the first programme of its kind globally, this partnership not only ensures skills development locally, but also the advancement of South Africa as leaders in this space,” said REDISA Director, Stacey Davidson.