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A golden opportunity in waste: Vast opportunities in recycling in the Eastern Cape

A golden opportunity in waste: Vast opportunities in recycling in the Eastern Cape

Leading multi-disciplinary black-owned engineering consulting firm, GIBB, believes that there is vast untapped economic potential in recycling in the Eastern Cape.

In a recent presentation by Professor Suzan Oelefse of the CSIR, she estimated that recycling of waste in South Africa is currently at ± 10%, which has unlocked R8.2 billion per annum worth of resources into the South African economy. She further estimated that there is potential to recover a further R17 billion worth of resources per annum.

“The Eastern Cape represents around 4% of the total municipal solid waste generated in South Africa, which would crudely translate to an untapped business opportunity of a minimum of R680 million (2011 baseline),” says Mervin Olivier, Technical Executive at GIBB.

He says that, although there have been numerous waste Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) and Buy Back Centres (BBC) that have been planned and constructed throughout the province, including in towns such as Port Elizabeth, East London, Port St Johns, Qumbu, Maclear, Ugie and Ngcobo, they have seen limited success.  “At best, this has led to only limited job creation and SMME development as the co-operatives that have been formed to operate them are faced with fluctuating recycling prices, poor collection infrastructure and uncollected recyclables.” 

He says a major challenge was transporting recycled waste to markets. “Transportation costs constitute the highest costs in the recycling process and in a province with small centres spread across large distances, coordination would assist greatly in improving recycling viability.”

Olivier also says that while the Waste Act established the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to encourage Industry to take responsibility for products beyond the point of sale, this has not necessarily been adopted by all companies. 

“Manufacturers can develop voluntary initiatives such as subsidising the transportation of recyclables to markets or placing a cash value on recyclables, such as the deposit on returnable glass bottles.

“Voluntary EPR programmes need to be explored because they will benefit industry as recyclables, in many cases, are cheaper than virgin material, resulting in lower input costs, reduced production time, lowered production costs and reduced legal liability,” he urges.

Olivier says GIBB, which is 67% black-owned and has been operating since 1956, has proven its capabilities to deliver world-class waste infrastructure projects of any magnitude.

“We have a wealth of waste and environmental experience and have a proven track record in designing landfill sites, MRFs, BBCs, developing integrated waste management plans for industry, parastatals, provincial, district and local municipalities. Additionally, we can undertake waste licencing, waste training and waste feasibility studies.”

For more information, call 043 706 3600 or email[email protected].


Photo caption: Mervin Olivier, Technical Executive at GIBB.