Ridding South Africa of plastic waste, the next frontier war; declares acting Minister of Environmental Affairs

20180603_134053Port Elizabeth 31 October 2018

Cleaning up and ridding South Africa of particularly plastic waste that eventually lands up at the country’s oceans to the disastrous peril of sea life, is going to be the next big war to be waged intensely by Government in collaboration with society, says Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mr Derek Hanekom

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Mr Derek Hannekom. Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs addressing guests during the launch of the African Youth Waste Network in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday, 29 October 2018

Mr Hanekom confirmed this while attending the launch of an initiative to rope in and actively involve African youth in the war against plastic waste, as well as the signing of yet another collaboration agreement between the Norwegian government and the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth on Monday.

Both the launch of the African Youth Waste Network by the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) as well as the collaborative agreement signed between the Norwegian government and the Nelson Mandela University on Monday to strengthen and expand education and training related to ocean’s management, are seen as key components to strengthening South Africa’s Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative to rejuvenate and grow the country’s maritime economic sector.

SST is Port Elizabeth based South African non governmental organization that is part of  the African Marine Waste Network launched in South Africa in 2017 with 42 member countries across the African continent.

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Pupils from Port Elizabeth’s Inkqubela Primary School who were part of youths from a few schools attending the launch of the African Youth Waste Network at the Nelson Mandela University on Monday, 29 October 2018. The four, from their school’s environmental club also performed at the event.

The launch of the African Youth Waste Network (AYWN) on Monday is part of a comprehensive Norway government sponsored program by the African Marine Waste Network, led by SST, to actively fight the scourge of marine plastic waste across the continent.

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Mr Mongameli Bobani, Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay (seated, Front Left) was among high profile guests attending the launch of the African Youth Waste Network in Port Elizabeth

Mr Hanekom, as acting Minister of Environmental Affairs following to the passing of away of Ms Edna Molewa recently, is currently responsible for the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative launched for years ago.

However, as also Minister of Tourism, effective waste management in the country is a major interest in his portfolio.

Mr Hanekom, in the company of Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms Iselin Nybo among others, applauded the launch of the youth network initiative on Monday and expressed appreciation of the Norwegian government’s continued support of both the youth initiative as well as the Nelson Mandela University’s education and training campaigns.

He said South Africa, like most others countries in the world, faced a mammoth task of managing effectively the scourge particularly plastic waste in the country in order to curb and eventually prevent its negative impacts on both the environment as well as people’s health.

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Dr Karl Klingsheim, Counselor of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa (seated front centre) was among guests attending the launch of the African Youth Waste Network. Norway is the major sponsor of a comprehensive programme that includes the youth initiative.

With over 50% of all plastic in the country being in the form of single use packaging, Mr Hanekom acknowledged that South Africa had lost momentum in the fight against plastic waste after the initial introduction of levies on consumer plastic bags years ago.

Now, he said, the forward strategy currently under consideration through policy would encompass three components; curbing plastic generation at source, implementing effective ways of plastic usage, and developing meaningful ways of managing plastic waste.

Mr Hanekom said the first component – dealing with plastic at source – would ‘without doubt’ draw the ire of plastic producers who would argue strongly against job losses.  However, he said this would not be an unusual argument, as had also been experienced in debates about strategies on renewable energies.

“Chemical weapons are a no-no! Chemicals weapons are not allowed and the whole world is against their production. There is no arguing that, well, we got to continue producing chemical weapons otherwise we are going to lose jobs. It does not work that way.

“You’ve got to bite the bullet at some point, and understand the gravity of what you are dealing with, and say if we can’t continue doing this, whichever angle you approach it from…..that somewhere, we have to take some tough measures.

“You will always lose jobs when you migrate from one sector to another. It is happening with coal mining.”

DSC_8121.JPGCrucially, he said, something needed to be done in South Africa to rid the country of mountains of plastic waste now entrapping and eliminating life in the oceans and increasingly threatening people’s lives.

The second component would require actively bringing about public awareness as well as engagement, while the third component would aim at eventually eliminating plastic waste through innovative economic schemes.

Mr Hanekom said: “In the next few weeks, as part of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) we will be launching a national clean up campaign. It will be a big national effort about awareness and about people being actively involved, from the President, Ministers, Premiers and MECs, MPs and all public representatives.

“When this campaign is formally launched by the President, what is going to be expected of all us public representatives at all levels, is to go out there, dirty our hands and clean up the country at the same encouraging communities to actively participate.” he said.

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Waste management strategies must lead to job creation: African Marine Waste Conference told.

 

Port Elizabeth: 12 July 2017

Fairly advanced first world waste management methods may be attractive but may have one crucial weakness – an apparent severe limitation in terms of generating employment opportunities.

That is among important issues some participants at this year’s African Marine Waste Conference currently on in Port Elizabeth are grappling with, this against the backdrop of high unemployment rates in developing countries in Africa, including this year’s conference host country, South Africa.

Mr Thabo Magomola, a director for monitoring and evaluation at the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and a member of a project team tasked with the establishment of a Waste Management Bureau to manage the implementation of the DEA’s strategic waste management programmes such as the Industry Waste Management Plan, is among participants at the African Marine Waste Conference consumed with the subject of future waste management strategies and job creation.

Presenting on a topic themed Circular economy employment and SME development in southern Africa, Mr Magomola suggested that there was a missing link between much need job creation in Africa and current and future waste management strategies.

This required creative thinking and solutions responding to developing countries’ need for job creation rather than whole adaption without adaptation of first world methods in waste management.

According to Mr Magomola, an expected population increase in South Africa in particular, by as much as eight (8) millions people by 2030, but with further projections that in that period, the segment of South Africa’s youth (15-29 age group) will have risen to more than 15-million, with largely black youth between ages 15-34 year’s old currently unemployed and with little prospect, this presented a massive challenge for job creation across sectors.

‘If left unresolved this trend poses the single greatest risk to social stability. Goal 8 of the (United Nations) Sustainable Development Goals seeks the creation of decent work and economic growth. The African Marine Waste Network in conjunction with Government and other roleplayers can realize this objective through the adoption of relevant best practices which can be found in Africa,’ he said.

He cited as an example the recent launch of a Recycling Enterprise Support Programme by the Waste Management Bureau of the DEA as one initiative towards finding balance between the two key issues: best practice waste management programs and job creation.

Ahead of his presentation at the conference this week, The 10th Province blog caught up with to squeeze more out of him about the subject.

Africa’s youth want in on solutions to waste management

Mauritian, Mr Rick-Ernest Bonnier, a Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders patron and marine education specialist in his home country, is among dozens of young people making up the more than 200 high profile delegates attending the African Marine Waste Conference in Port Elizabeth this week and there is a reason. Young people should be part of the solution finding initiative, he told this blog on the sidelines of the conference.

In the two (2) minutes video below, he explains why.

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A global war on plastic waste may see an end, with South Africa playing a lead role in it: African Marine Waste Conference

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Port Elizabeth: 11 July 2017

An ongoing global strife against marine waste, but particularly plastic waste gradually rendering the world’s oceans a cesspit of debris threatening all life on earth, might soon score some victories and South Africa might have a pioneering role in this regard.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that the country will be introducing a technologically advanced plastic material designed to rapidly dissolve in water once sufficiently exposed.

This emerged at the African Marine Waste Conference currently underway in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, involving more than 200 delegates, among them dozens of leading scientists from several African and other countries.

IMG_6403In an interview on the sidelines of the conference, Dr Sudhakar Muniyasamy, a senior researcher on polymers and composites at the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) revealed that the new plastic material for use in plastic carrier bags used mostly by retail stores would begin distribution in the coming year.

He said two of the country’s major clothes and foods retailers, Pick ‘n Pay and Woolworths would be the first participants in the use of the new plastic material.

‘Plastic waste is a global issue and in seeking solutions to this problem, my research team focused on developing a plastic material that when it reaches landfill sites or the marine environment, it is completely biodegradable.

“The research and development phase is completed and we are now embarking on pilot scale production. The technology has drawn the interest of Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay and we are expecting them, maybe next year, to be on the license stage,” announced Dr Muniyasamy.

IMG_6436According to the scientist, once sufficiently distributed for single use plastic carrier bags from next year onwards, the new material should go a long way towards reducing plastic waste both at dumpsites as well as in the marine environment.

He also confirmed that along with the new technologically advanced plastic material, a campaign would be rolled to ensure that manufacturers of all plastic material currently in use meet a set of new stringent standards.

Dr Muniyasamy said South Africa was embarking on the efforts in collaboration with other African countries, among them being Egypt.

For the full five (5) minutes interview, Click Here

Booms, Bins and Bags – a B3 solution to the BIGA problem.

That is a solution driven by Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson, a senior marine biology lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal primarily to rid rivers in that province of South Africa of plastic waste often left to float freely by both established waste removal entities of local municipalities, but also by the population generally.

The project according to Dr Robertson-Andersson came to life after she’d transferred from Cape Town to Durban and on approaching the beaches in the city, found them littered with all sorts of plastic waste but especially small items such as bottle tops, straws, earbuds and other smaller broken plastic materials.

In collaboration with others, including independent NGOs, the project involving volunteers collects as much as between 300 and 1300 bags of small plastic waste along rivers such as the Umhlangane and Umgeni per time period.

In a three (3 minutes) video, Dr Robertson-Andersson chats briefly about the project.

 

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