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.



South Africa-Norway Science Week 2016: launchpad for new Maritime Research and Innovation Roadmap


Pretoria: 19 October 2016

South Africa’s recently developed maritime research and innovation road map is anticipated to be among highlights at this year’s South Africa-Norway Science Week scheduled for Pretoria and Cape Town at month end.

picture1The inaugural event to be held in Pretoria on Monday 31 October before moving to Cape Town from Tuesday to Friday (November 01-04, 2016), is a joint initiative between the South Africa and Norway governments. Its aim is to provide a platform for exploration of opportunities for cooperation in education, research and new business development.

This week, in the video below, Norwegian Ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Skymoen gave a broad, insightful overview of the event, and about which she said her country was very excited to be part of.

South Africa, a maritime country that doesn’t know it!

For South Africa which has worked closely with Norway on particularly research collaboration on a range of fields since launch of the South Africa-Norway Programme on Research Cooperation 15 years ago; the Science Week 2016 event is said set to provide opportunity for the country to share its recently developed marine and maritime sector research and innovation roadmap.

20161020_082313Funded by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) under the Department of Transport, with partners inclusive of the Department of Science and Technology, and compiled by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in partnership with the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) the roadmap document in a book format titled A Research, Innovation and Knowledge Management Road Map for the South African Maritime Sector – Charting a Road to Maritime Excellence by 2030, was published earlier this year following to a lengthy, intensive consultative process involving no less than 400 stakeholders in the country’s maritime sector.

According to editors – all researchers at the CSIR’s Natural Resources and Environment division – Nikki Funke, Marius Classen, Richard Meisser and Karen Nortjie; development of the roadmap was in response to an expressed urgent need for coordinated guidance into research needs in the country’s maritime and marine environments.

According to the researchers, South Africa has 3924 kms of coastline and a “sea-land” area – known as an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – that is three times bigger than its land size (at 1.5-million square kilometers).  The country is also positioned on a major shipping route and has eight commercial ports and 44 non-commercial harbours.

Currently, 58% of South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) is based on trade and 98% of South Africa’s trade volume moves by ships. In addition, the country generates a significant 3.5% of the world’s seaborne trade volume.

However, in spite of these impressive numbers and with 30% of South Africa’s population living on the coast, many South Africans generally do not recognise their country as a maritime nation.

“In order to provide a mechanism through which…. critical questions can be answered, SAMSA, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), appointed the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to facilitate the process of developing a National Research, Innovation and Knowledge Management Road Map for the South African maritime.

“The Maritime Road Map presents a vision for the maritime sector, which is for South Africa to be globally recognized as a maritime nation by 2030. The Maritime Road Map subsequently identifies eight key objectives, which, together with a set of core research, innovation and knowledge management-focused actions per objective, serve to enable the maritime sector to chart a course to maritime excellence in South Africa.

roadmap“The Maritime Road Map therefore sets the agenda for the research, innovation and knowledge management needs for the maritime sector and maps out the direction the maritime sector is required to take in order to address these needs,” so state the editors.

Funke et al further state that the Maritime Road Map is also crucially relevant to the country’s maritime economic sector rejuvenation and repositioning under the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) project launched two years ago and through which the country’s oceans are estimated able to generate up to R 177 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2033 – more than three times the rate of contribution generated by the sector in 2010. As many as 22 000 new direct jobs are projected for 2019 with the figure anticipated to rise to between 800 000 and 1-million new jobs in 2033.

The Maritime Road Map according to the editors, has its scope spread between both the maritime and marine domains, with thematic areas defining the scope involving precisely shipping and transport, marine resources, coast and marine tourism and marine protection services and governance.

As many as 300 guests are expected to attend the South Africa-Norway Science Week 2016 from October 31 to November 04, with a sizeable number of these being from overseas countries including Norway and France.

Keynote speakers will include Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor.

For more information, Click Here