SUSTAINABILITY Week seeks to advance the green economy through the sharing of knowledge across disciplines and sectors.
Sustainability is not a quick fix or a one-size-fits-all solution, it is about a process of reaching decisions, while considering the interests of all stakeholders.
For REDISA (Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa), true sustainability is sustainable development. It means balancing economic growth, infrastructure development and creating small business opportunities as well as jobs – while lowering our emissions and overall impact on the environment.
Currently, only 10% of waste in South Africa is recycled. As our population grows, so the increase of waste generated highlights the inadequate nature of existing waste management services – leading to an increasingly polluted environment in which South African’s are forced to live. “Waste management is a big problem in our country and through this Vision Zero summit, as part of Sustainability week, we hope all stakeholders will come together to look at ways to transform how we deal with waste in the country,”said Stacey Davidson, director at REDISA.
The onus is therefore on leaders to address systemic structural changes that can boost investment, and create an environment in which business, and entrepreneurs, can thrive.
One of the ways we can fast track this process is by creating circular economies. On a planet of finite resources, the circular economy is not optional, it is inevitable. Its implementation will provide world economies with unprecedented opportunities, through the creation of reverse logistics networks, new processes and new industries using the recovered resources.
For example in the tyre industry, it means re-using and recycling existing materials and products. In other words, what used to be regarded as ‘waste’ can be turned into a resource and reintroduced into the economy.
By involving all stakeholders, government and private sector, the REDISA tyre industry circular economy model is working: tyre manufacturers and importers are taking responsibility for their waste without losing sight of focusing on their core business, unemployed people are finding gainful employment, SMMEs are being developed and supported by the REDISA Plan, and the environmental disaster that waste tyres represent is being economically and effectively addressed.
Without legislation by the Department of Environmental Affairs implementing the REDISA Plan would never have been possible, and the success would never have happened.
While the circular economy is growing, it is happening at a slow pace. If the circular economy is to become more widespread, we must look at all industries to see how through innovation and cooperation we can double our efforts.
The results are evident. Through REDISA’s collaboration with government on the one hand, and tyre manufacturers and importers on the other, we have within two years helped create over 2 000 new jobs and start 183 small businesses, simply by seeing used tyres differently.
In the coming months the REDISA team will continue to meet and converse with entrepreneurs to discuss solutions to the many challenges being faced in terms of developing these new small business owners. REDISA aims to create a true balance between government requirements, environmental sustainability and industry ambition, through its waste management system by contributing to the economy and creating jobs in the process.
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