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is printed on 100% recycled paper

The official journal of the

Promoting integrated resources management

Organic Waste

Municipal Feature

Western Cape organic waste landfill ban: Are they ready?

Turning informal dump sites into mini drop-offs

TECH BOOST FOR SA'S RECYCLING SECTOR Plastics

Addressing problematic products

Panel Discussion The collection, transfer and disposal of solid waste requires a significant investment in waste management equipment and vehicles, since these are the backbone of the waste management industry. Industry leaders delve into how waste equipment can extend the life of a landfill. ISSN 1680-4902 • R55.00 (incl. VAT) • Vol. 23 No. 04 • November 2021


Use waste for mutual benefit Join the National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa in reducing waste to landfill, enhancing your industrial competitiveness and lowering costs through the reduction of material usage and waste management. Register your waste streams on the NCPC-SA Waste Capturing Platform on www.ncpc.co.za. Industrial Symbiosis is an innovative approach to waste management. It is also a resource efficiency approach where unused/residual resources (material, energy, water, waste, assets, logistics, expertise etc.) of one company are used by another. This results in mutual economic, social and environmental benefit.

With the following benefits: INCREASED

DECREASED

Profit

CO2

Sales

Landfill costs

Jobs

Use of virgin resources

Utilisation of assets

Water usage

Innovation

Hazardous waste

Knowledge transfer

Transport

The NCPC-SA is a programme of the dtic hosted by the CSIR. CONTACT INFORMATION

THA 15-2020

Pretoria: +27 12 841 3772 | Cape Town: +27 21 658 2776 | Durban: +27 31 242 2441 | Email: ncpc@csir.co.za

the dtic

www.ncpc.co.za

Department: Trade, Industry and Competition REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA


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Vol. 23, No. 04, November 2021

ON THE COVER Set to revolutionise how recyclable materials are traded, tracked and traced in South Africa, an innovative technology called BanQu is being rolled out to many recycling buy-back centres across the country. P6

LANDFILLS

REGULARS

3 5 8 48 48

Editor’s comment President’s comment News round-up Events Index to advertisers

CONTENTS

COVER STORY

6

Tech boost for SA’s recycling sector

NOVEMBER 2021

PANEL DISCUSSION

10

Maximise productivity on landfill sites Compacting landfill waste efficiently requires the right equipment

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LANDFILLS

18

ORGANIC WASTE

Looming landfill crisis faces SA’s largest metros

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MUNICIPAL FEATURE Turning informal dump sites into mini drop-offs

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ORGANIC WASTE Western Cape organic waste landfill ban

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PAPER

21

SA’s paper industry is getting EPR ready How the paper industry is the epitome of the circular economy

22

PLASTICS

The two sides of the plastics argument Addressing problematic and unnecessary plastics Supporting Miss Earth SA on her green journey

INDUSTRIAL SYMBIOSIS

29

Turning drums into dustbins

30

24 26 28

GREEN BUILDINGS

Solar trees to provide renewable energy at Eastgate Shopping Centre

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GEOSYNTHETICS

GREEN BUILDINGS

33

Providing superior lining solutions

RECYCLING

Mpact Plastics leads the way for EPR As waste generation rises, recyclers are finding green solutions

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PUMPS & VALVES

34 36 39

Helping to avert a wastewater disaster

E-WASTE

Cutting-edge gas recycling to roll-out across South Africa Circular and sustainable IT asset disposal solutions

INDUSTRIAL SYMBIOSIS

RENEWABLE ENERGY

www.infrastructurenews.co.za

43 44 46

Repurposing coal stations Paving the way for a more sustainable city A new path to power in Africa NOVEMBER 2021

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A VACCINE AGAINST CLOGGING

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EDITOR’S COMMENT

Editor Nombulelo Manyana

Urgent action needed

Managing editor Alastair Currie Head of design Beren Bauermeister Designer Lizette Jonker Chief sub-editor Tristan Snijders Contributors Wayne Glossop, Anton Hanekom, Brendon Jewaskiewitz, Tord Johnsson, Jane Molony, Hugh Tyrrell, Ryan van Heerden Production & client liaison manager Antois-Leigh Nepgen Production coordinator Jacqueline Modise Group sales manager Chilomia Van Wijk Distribution manager Nomsa Masina Distribution coordinator Asha Pursotham Printers Novus Print Montague Gardens Tel +27 (0)21 550 2300 Advertising sales Joanne Lawrie Cell +27 (0)82 346 5338 joanne@3smedia.co.za

E

xperts have described the report and recent environmental issues as a ‘code red’ for humanity and have suggested that urgent action be taken to reduce our ecological footprint. An ecological footprint is defined as the measure of human demand on nature and compares human consumption of natural resources with earth’s ecological capacity to regenerate them.

We need urgent interventions Publisher Jacques Breytenbach 3S Media 46 Milkyway Avenue, Frankenwald, 2090 PO Box 92026, Norwood 2117 Tel +27 (0)11 233 2600 Fax +27 (0)11 234 7274/5 www.3smedia.co.za Annual subscription subs@3smedia.co.za R200.00 (incl VAT) South Africa ISSN 1680-4902 Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa Tel +27 (0)11 675 3462 Email iwmsa@iwmsa.co.za All material herein is copyright protected and may not be reproduced either in whole or in part without the prior written permission of the publisher. The views and opinions of authors expressed in the magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher, editor or the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa. © Copyright 2021. All rights reserved. Novus Holdings is a Level 2 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Contributor, with 125% recognised procurement recognition. View our BBBEE scorecard here: https://novus.holdings/sustainability/ transformation The ABC logo is a valued stamp of measurement and trust, providing accurate and comparable circulation figures that protect the way advertising is traded. ReSource is ABC audited and certified.

The latest statistics suggest that the average world citizen has an eco-footprint of about 2.7 global hectares, while there are only 2.1 global hectares of bioproductive land and water per capita globally. Simply put: we need to make changes – urgently – if we want to save the environment. South Africa’s revised nationally determined contribution to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, submitted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, has given hope to a dire situation. However, according to the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, it will require an equally ambitious multilateral commitment of financial support by developed countries for our nation’s just transition. Businesses and government alike are also looking at different ways to go green, and have implemented many regulations like the Carbon Tax Act (No. 15 of 2019), EPR Regulations and numerous landfill bans. These are an effort to introduce more sustainable practices and spark a sense of responsibility among producers, exporters and consumers. By going green, businesses can save money by reducing waste and increasing efficiency, lessen health and safety risks, attract environmentally conscious consumers and employees, and differentiate themselves from competitors.

While most people are aware that the world faces huge environmental challenges, ver y few know the true extent of this crisis. According to a recent repor t by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming is “widespread, rapid and intensifying”. impact is and then implement measures to reduce this. These include: 1. Using energy more efficiently: Energy efficiency means using less energy to perform the same task – thereby helping with reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing demand for energy imports, and lowering costs on an economy-wide level. 2. Installing clean, renewable energy systems such as solar and wind. 3. Conserving water. 4. Reducing, reusing and recycling. There are obviously many other ways that can be investigated but what’s clear is that this is a monumental challenge at hand. In this, our Environmental Issue of ReSource, we not only look at ways to reduce your environmental impact but also at the great strides many organisations have already taken to reduce their eco-footprint, reuse their resources and reconsider their habits.

Nombulelo

Decrease your carbon footprint This begs the key question: how can businesses decrease their carbon footprint? First, it is important to know what your current environmental

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THE KEY TO GREAT COMMUNICATION IS BEING ADAPTABLE

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BUILD YOUR NETWORK through regular interaction with like-minded individuals who are working towards a sustainable environment

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KNOWLEDGE through education and training in the realm of effective and efficient waste management is also a key focus for us

HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD as we contribute to the improvement of waste management standards and legislation, support international, national and regional trends in best environmental practices

GAIN TRUST through adhering to the IWMSA code of ETHICS trusted by clients in the waste environment

APPLY ONLINE AT www.iwmsa.co.za www.iwmsa.co.za I ann@iwmsa.co.za I 011 675 3462


PRESIDENT’S COMMENT

GETTING BACK

on track

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Ar thur Ward

I

t has indeed been a busy time for the IWMSA. By the time you read this, we will have concluded the first virtual Eastern Cape Conference, ‘Journey to Zero Waste’, as well as the LaWTIG (Landfill and Waste Treatment Interest Group) virtual seminar and exhibition, ‘Landfill and Waste Treatment 2021’, hosted by the KZN branch. Many of us are longing for that elusive ‘back to normal’ face-to-face event; however, the organising committee wisely decided against it some months ago and, in true IWMSA spirit, embraced the unknown of the virtual world to keep things on track.

Embracing the unknown Despite our fears surrounding the uncertainty in holding a virtual event of this scale, the LaWTIG event promises to be a huge success due to the tenacious efforts of the organising committee, with sponsors and exhibitors secured and well over 100 delegates registered. The programme is packed with presentations, workshops and panel discussions on hot topics, featuring prominent local and international speakers. The event will also include the inaugural award of the new IWMSA ‘Conscientious Spirit’

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT IWMSA, VISIT THE WEBSITE

trophy, for conscientiousness going beyond normal ethical behaviour, in pursuit of excellence and in meeting the range of goals of the IWMSA. I am looking forward to proudly reporting back on yet more successful IWMSA and LaWTIG events.

At home base In the engine room of the IWMSA, the head office team, supported by our branch managers, has been hard at work streamlining and modernising our systems and ways of doing business. In line with our organisational strategy, we continue to ‘refresh’, as we look positively towards the future and needs of our members. Council has made some progressive decisions in this regard, including a move towards a brand-new, online, cloud-based membership interface and financial management system, and a departure from old-fashioned communications in favour of a fresh approach aimed at greater membership engagement, enhancing our social media presence, publicity and media exposure. Our executive officer, Nicolle de Bruyn, who has been with us for six months now, is firmly in the driving seat and up for the challenge. It is also worth mentioning that Ann Oosthuizen is indeed still with us, having graciously agreed to stay on as membership manager. Please don’t hesitate to contact them if you have any issues or concerns, so that we can effectively address these.

of having to cancel in 2020. The theme of our biennial conference and exhibition – currently planned to be held as a face-to-face event at Emperors Palace in Gauteng from 16 to 20 October 2022 – will be ‘Back on Track? Perspectives on Waste and Circularity’. Emerging from a period in which virtually all aspects of our lives have been dominated by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the theme essentially encompasses a reality check on where we are now in respect of the state of waste management and circular economy, what we have done well or poorly in the past, what we should continue doing well, and what we should be doing better or differently in the future. I wish you and your loved ones all the very best as we approach the festive season, and look forward to a bright new year in 2022.

WasteCon 2022 We are also about to launch WasteCon 2022, which we are all very excited about and looking forward to, having faced the disappointment

Brendon Jewaskiewitz, President, IWMSA

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COVER STORY

Tech boost for

SA’S RECYCLING SECTOR Innovative technology to track, trace and record the trading in recyclable materials is being rolled out across South Africa.

S

et to revolutionise how recyclable materials are traded, tracked and traced in South Africa, an innovative technology called BanQu is being rolled out to many recycling buy-back centres across the country. The digital platform will help buy-back centres accurately record and track their recycling transactions with waste pickers – as well as trace the origins of the recycling – while providing a realtime business management tool enabling them to better understand and manage their businesses. South Africa’s PET plastic producer responsibility organisation (PRO), Petco, is driving the roll-out of the BanQu technology in a project called Up, which commenced in 2021 and is funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation. Over the next year, the system will be rolled out to 100 buy-back centres identified by Petco across the country, with 10 centres in Gauteng, Limpopo and the Western and Eastern Cape already live and transacting on the system. Once registered on the BanQu system, the buy-back centres can capture the quantity of recyclable material bought from waste pickers, as well as the price paid for it and where it was collected. This allows buy-back centres to know the quantity of all materials within their centres at any given time. The waste pickers, in turn, receive an SMS receipt for each transaction and can keep track digitally of their income earned through sales to various buy-back centres.

Solid uptake To date, the 10 live centres have registered over 1 400 waste pickers on the BanQu system, and more than 2 350 t of recyclable material worth more than R5.7 million have been recorded. Suzan Banda was one of the first to register her buy-back centre in Etwatwa, Ekurhuleni, on BanQu earlier this year. “I used to write in an invoice book, which took so long. This is much quicker, and the waste picker immediately gets an SMS with all the details about the weight of the material and the price,” she says, adding that she could already see

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the difference it had made to her business. I’m getting more customers because I can process the transactions quicker.” Melody Nyamakura, one of the workers at Main Buy-Back Centre in Johannesburg’s CBD, is enthusiastic about the benefits of BanQu, which, she says, “benefits everyone” in the value chain: the waste picker, the buy-back centre and, in her case, her employer. “The waste pickers were thrilled when we introduced BanQu, because they can keep track of what they’ve sold and are able to compare their transactions weekly or monthly. For me, once we’ve weighed the material and captured the details, the transaction is immediately sent to my employer, who can check the stock on his phone. In the past, he would have to wait for me to give him a report. Also, because each transaction is uploaded in real time, we no longer need to calculate turnover at the end of the day. It’s all there already,” Nyamakura says. Another advantage of the system is that if, for example, there is a sudden decline in the number of boxes that are usually brought in, the buy-back centre can compare the numbers at a glance and tr y to establish what might have changed. “It’s really convenient and much quicker than the old manual system we used, and easy to learn. It’s definitely wor th it,” she says.

Integrating the informal sector Cheri Scholtz, CEO, Petco, says BanQu is helping to integrate the informal sector into the recycling value chain – an area in which Petco has been working for many years and which is now a requirement in the Section 18 Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (No. 59 of 2008). Scholtz explains that, because informal waste collection is based largely on cash transactions, the majority of the estimated 52 000 waste

pickers in South Africa typically have no record of their earnings and so remain largely unbanked and unable to access the kinds of services available to those who are self-employed or have a record of employment in the formal sector. The benefit of the technology is that both waste pickers and buy-back centres are able to build up permanent digital financial records, which could be used to access credit to grow their businesses, she adds. “Petco supports buy-back centres countrywide by sponsoring infrastructure, essential equipment and training to help them grow and improve efficiencies. Adding digital technology to the mix is the logical next step to empower these small businesses and take them to the next level,” she says.

Understanding the market The system would also provide a more accurate view of their significant contribution to the recycling value chain and circular economy, says Scholtz. “Recording and analysing aggregate data at collector and buy-back centre level will be a step change in understanding market dynamics, pricing and collector behaviour, and ensuring more equitable earnings for the informal sector,” Scholtz states. She explains that the individual data provided by the buy-back centres or waste pickers is aggregated and would remain private. “Any personal information will be protected in accordance with the Protection of Public Information Act (No. 4 of 2013), and will not be sold to third parties.” Saadia Madsbjerg, president of The Coca-Cola Foundation, adds, “The Coca-Cola Foundation is committed to making a difference in communities around the world and we wanted to ensure that we are supporting a cause that does just that, through grant funding provided to Petco. BanQu’s innovative platform helps waste reclaimers and buy-back centres find the value in waste, supporting a circular economy that helps protect the environment and create a better shared future.”


COVER STORY

Images of how the BanQu recycling track and trace platform works

Ashish Gadnis, founder and CEO, BanQu, says the platform uses secure blockchain technology to track and trace recycled material across the recycling value chain, ensuring price transparency for both buyers and sellers. “It takes less than an hour to set up the system and train a buy-back centre team. The platform works on any device that can connect to the internet and is cloud-based. Nothing is saved to a device, nor are smar tphones necessar y. “BanQu was built to empower smallholder farmers in our food supply chains and the informal waste collectors who are the true heroes of the circular economy. This incredible partnership brings major scale to that vision,” Gadnis concludes. www.petco.co.za Mpetha Mushoeshoe, a waste picker in Johannesburg, shows off an SMS he received from the BanQu recycling track and trace platform formally recording the volume and value of the recyclate he collected and was paid for

ABOUT THE COCA-COLA FOUNDATION The Coca-Cola Foundation is the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company. Since its inception in 1984, the Foundation has awarded more than US$1 billion in grants to support sustainable community initiatives around the world. For more information about The Coca-Cola Foundation, visit www.coca-colacompany.com/shared-future/ communities/the-coca-cola-foundation.

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NEWS ROUND-UP

SUSTAINABILITY NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD The lifetime cost of plastics The cost of plastic produced in 2019 on society, the environment and the global economy has been revealed at US$3.7 trillion (R54.5 trillion), according to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) calculations. In its report, the environmental group claims that fragmented regulatory approaches, misplaced incentives, as well as a lack of coordinated technical resources, financial support and consistent data on plastic leakage are currently “costing us the earth”. The new report by the WWF and Dalberg – titled Plastics: The cost to society, environment and the economy

– estimates that, if we carry on at the current trajectory, plastic production will double by 2040. This will triple the amount of plastic pollution entering the ocean to 29 million tonnes (Mt), increasing the total stock of plastic in the ocean to 600 Mt. Greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic life cycle will account for up to 20% of the entire global carbon budget, accelerating the climate crisis. The WWF has called on governments to start the negotiation of a legally binding global treaty on marine plastic pollution.

Achieving a CARBON NEUTRAL food supply chain With an ambitious national carbon reduction plan of cutting emissions by 28% by 2030, South Africa will need urgent and clear decarbonising plans for each sector – including food production. South Africa’s agricultural sector is set to become an even bigger contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, as the sector will have to double its production by 2050 to meet our food demand. As the population demands greater food production, a carbon reduction plan will need to consider longer-term sustainable agricultural practices. “With our carbon reduction targets and a predicted increase in food demand, we need to look at more sustainable agricultural practices – specifically regenerative agriculture,” says Julien Rambert, director of BiobiN South Africa. Regenerative agriculture looks at principles and practices of farming that focus on rehabilitating the ecological integrity of the land while keeping carbon stored in soil and plants. There are several different regenerative agricultural practices, such as controlled grazing and minimising the physical disturbance of soil (conservation tillage), which prevent the release of carbon emissions. While regenerative agriculture will prevent carbon emissions, organic compost will put carbon back into the soil. Retaining a landscape’s natural vegetation will also remove more carbon out of the atmosphere.

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Pick n Pay keeps recycling at top of sustainability agenda For over two decades, Pick n Pay has placed recycling at the top of its sustainability agenda. The retailer has been one of the key sponsors of the National Beach and River Clean-ups for the past 25 years – the latest of which took place this September during Clean-Up & Recycle SA Week, when thousands of tonnes of waste were collected and recycled by thousands of volunteers who removed litter from rivers, streams, beaches and oceans. Pick n Pay’s commitment to reduce the impact of single-use plastic and packaging by 2025 extends far beyond beach clean-ups. It includes significant public commitments to increase packaging recyclability and recycled content, reducing packaging weight and making it easier for customers to recycle packaging through clear recycling labelling on products. Through its national stores recycling programme, Pick n Pay recycled or recovered more than 60% of the total tonnes of waste generated in its previous financial year. Some of the retail giant’s packaging and recycling achievements in the past financial year include: • replacing 8 million plastic straws with paper straws • selling 1.6 million reusable bags from recycled PET • using 11 million plastic bottles in the manufacture of reusable bags over the past five years.


NEWS ROUND-UP

CALL ON CITIZENS TO RECYCLE PAPER PRODUCTS According to RecyclePaperZA, the paper recycling association of South Africa, the countr y recovered 1.1 million tonnes (Mt) of recyclable paper products in 2020, putting the paper recover y rate at 69.8%. Even though these numbers are encouraging, RecyclePaperZA has called on homes, schools and businesses to be better at separating recyclables from rubbish. By keeping cardboard boxes, used office paper, newspaper, pizza boxes and other food packaging out of our bins, we keep them out of landfills. Not only is it better for the environment, but it suppor ts

the economy, especially the livelihoods of waste collectors. If baled, 1.1 Mt of paper and paper packaging would cover 142 rugby fields or fill 1 322 Olympic-size swimming pools. “More importantly, the paper recovered in 2020 saved 3.3 million cubic metres of landfill space and ensured that the recovered fibre was made into new products that we use every day,” says Samantha Choles, communications manager for RecyclePaperZA. The small act of separating our recyclables at home, school and work makes a difference to the environment.

SA ranked among world’s worst plastic polluters According to a report commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), South Africa is the 11th worst plastic polluter globally. “There is also evidence of an increase in marine plastic debris from land-based sources within South Africa, suggesting this problem is likely to grow,” says the report, which analysed the extent of the global plastic crisis and profiled several of the worst polluters. The report, entitled Plastics: The cost to society, environment and the economy, shows sobering pollution data. It reveals that the average South African generates 41 kg of plastic waste every year – significantly more than the global per capita average of 29 kg/annum. Much of this escapes the waste management system due to inadequate service delivery. “In 2018, 35% of households did not receive weekly waste collection and 29% of household waste was not collected,” the report states. The pollution avalanche translates into a significant financial burden due to damage to key economic industries such as fishing and tourism. Studies show that many tourists avoid countries with heavily polluted environments.

Are you making these paper recycling mistakes? It is estimated that only 6.1% of metropolitan households in South Africa actively participate in recycling. However, even the most environmentally conscientious people make recycling mistakes. You might even think your home is paperless, so you don’t need to recycle. Have you considered the sturdy cardboard box and its moulded protective layers that housed your new TV during transit? Or the box from your latest online shopping haul? Cereal boxes? Milk cartons? What about the toilet paper roll core? All of these are recyclable in South Africa. Fibre Circle – the producer responsibility organisation for the South African paper and paper packaging sector – outlines some of the more common recycling mistakes: • Mistake 1: Putting non-recyclable paper products into the recycling bin. • Mistake 2: Making it difficult and time-consuming for family members to recycle. • Mistake 3: Not knowing what to do with your recyclables.

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PA N E L D I S C U S S I O N

Maximise productivity on

LANDFILL SITES While the daily tonnage intake and the number of years left in a landfill’s life are important, the key issue on the minds of many solid waste agency managers is how the right equipment can help maximise landfill space.

W

ith less than 10% of all general waste being recycled in South Africa, almost 100 million tonnes of municipal waste is dumped at hundreds of landfill sites across the country every year, according to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. Jay Moodley, regional general manager at Babcock, explains that once full, many of these landfill sites will be used for building housing estates, malls, office blocks or other developments. Various processes and equipment are required to ensure the integrity of the ground for future building on these sites. Moodley says that Volvo articulated dump trucks (ADTs) are playing a pivotal role in this specialised process at four landfill sites in KwaZulu-Natal.

ADTs for DSW As part of its mandate to protect the environment and communities through safe waste management policies, eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Solid Waste (DSW) Department has invested in twenty-two 30 t Volvo ADTs for use at the landfill sites.

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DSW took delivery of eight A30G trucks in June 2021, with a further eight trucks delivered in October at an official handover ceremony. The rest of the trucks will be delivered early next year. Supplied by Babcock, the exclusive distributor of Volvo Construction Equipment in Southern Africa, the A30G dump trucks are being used as standard ADTs, water tankers and for the hoisting of skips with hook lifts. Moodley says that the 30 t Volvo ADTs are the ideal dump trucks for a landfill environment, as they are purpose-built for these types of conditions, have sufficient capacity for the volumes required to move for this application, and are easy to manoeuvre on roads as well as landfill sites. “Ensuring the future integrity of the landfill ground hinges on the quality and efficiency of the products and processes used,” Moodley points out. “While the equipment is just one element of the process to extend the life of a landfill site, using the right equipment and quality machinery to get the job done safely can prevent incorrect compaction, the development of manholes or the sinking of a compacted area when it may be used for building years later.”

Specialised applications In their simplest application for DSW, some of the Volvo A30G dump trucks are being used for hauling and moving waste within the landfill sites after being loaded by excavators or front-end loaders. Others have been modified as hook lifts to lift skips from waste removal trucks and transport these containers to be offloaded. “Garbage is brought to a drop-off zone by road trucks that cannot access landfill sites due to rubble and uneven dirt roads,” explains Moodley. “The skips are lifted on to the back of the ADT and transported to the landfill sites where they are then offloaded.” Babcock partnered with ETT – a company that specialises in professionally engineered special vehicle solutions for mobile industrial equipment – to undertake the modifications. ETT also assisted Babcock to convert some of the trucks to water tankers, which are necessary for watering down the dirt roads leading to the landfill sites to prevent dust from rising, keeping the air clear and watering down any contaminants. “The water tankers are also used to wash down the actual landfill area between compacting


PA N E L D I S C U S S I O N

to achieve maximum compression, which is essential should the land be used for building at a future date,” says Moodley.

Modifications To prepare the trucks for the harsh, toxic landfill site conditions, a number of modifications were made to them. Landfill sites produce high methane volumes during the decomposition process, which can be a flammable hazard. Babcock partnered with Fogmaker to fit fire suppression systems in the cabs and engines to protect drivers and the essential parts of the trucks in the event of a fire. The trucks were also fitted with an auto-greasing system to ensure that all the moving or wear parts are greased regularly. Moodley explains that the system creates a constant flow of grease to the moving parts to ensure that the friction on wearing parts is reduced so that they last much

longer. “On a landfill site, there is a lot moisture and different materials – such as sand, rubble and chemicals – that could be highly corrosive to the moving parts, so it is important that these parts are coated in grease to promote longevity.” He adds that reverse camera systems were installed at the rear of all the ADTs to enable drivers to clearly see any obstructions or people behind the large trucks, which are constantly reversing on-site. To further increase visibility, particularly at night, additional LED lighting was installed above the canopy. Moodley says Babcock worked closely with DSW to undertake these modifications. “DSW has invested substantially in the knowledge, research, social impact and environmental impact studies with regard to safely managing waste. They understand the challenges of landfill sites and have set out specific requirements that are

essential for all stakeholders operating safely on-site. Babcock has the flexibility to modify equipment, and we partner with leading suppliers to meet our clients’ stringent criteria.” Volvo Construction Equipment is renowned for having the best hauler line-up in the world. It is designed to boost the productivity, comfort and safety of any operation. Customers rely on the robust Volvo A30G to move more for less, ensuring optimum profitability and uptime. Volvo A30Gs offer unbeatable long-term value thanks to a long service life, low fuel consumption, high productivity and uptime, as well as minimal service and maintenance requirements. “As a company committed to creating a safe and secure world through its products and services, Babcock is proud to be supporting industries that have a common goal of driving sustainability,” concludes Moodley.


PA N E L D I S C U S S I O N

COMPACTING LANDFILL WASTE

efficiently requires THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT

Bomag has been making compaction technology histor y with its novel solutions for over 60 years and now leads the industr y with innovative digital ser vices for networked construction sites.

B

omag was founded in 1957, with a focus on compaction machines from the ver y beginning. The German company has been a technology partner to the waste management industry since the late 1970s. It initially began in this segment as a sales partner of a North American machine manufacturer; however, it quickly became apparent that wheel loaders converted to compactors could not meet the sector’s high demands. This is why the company still relies on its own technology development for refuse compaction. Bomag’s innovation philosophy holds that close proximity to the customer to really understand their requirements and translate them into solutions lies behind the success of the machines from Boppard on the Rhine. The evolution of its refuse compactors has historically been driven by wide-ranging customer and industry requirements, with built-in adaptability providing a real edge. This approach has been followed since the company built its very first machines. The latest generations of refuse compactors continue to follow the design that has set industry standards. To this day, Bomag actively involves its

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customers in the product development process. This ensures their specific requirements are properly addressed; however, since market conditions are constantly changing, machine manufacturers must face new challenges flexibly and with foresight. Current issues driving this are, in par ticular, emissions legislation and the introduction of digital technologies and ser vices.

From an eye for the big picture to an optimised vehicle fleet Determining what kind of work needs to be performed and which combination of equipment is the most suitable solution for the customer is key. Taking the tasks at a landfill site as a whole into consideration is extremely important today, even if the basis is still, of course, activities like spreading and compaction. Various other activities have been added, such as transporting covering material, loading separated materials, replenishing and unloading temporary storage facilities, and even covering the work surface with recyclable film.

More than a machine Developing suitable fleet solutions for these extended tasks is also essential. And Bomag has the right machine for the job – the typical refuse

compactor with dozer blade. Further, multitools are also available to take on additional functions – for example, refuse compactors optionally equipped with a lifting gear and bucket can transport and even load materials in addition to depositing refuse. Another interesting option is to equip the machines for film covering systems, for which Bomag offers the corresponding accessories. Selecting the right equipment requires a multidimensional approach and the correct weighting of different factors. These include the daily amount of waste with hours of operation, delivery peaks, waste composition, space conditions at the unloading point, and the working methods. The age structure of the machines also plays a decisive role; i.e. the older the equipment, the lower its availability. This calls for a well-thought-out backup concept. Clearly, taking all this into consideration, optimising a vehicle fleet is a demanding task that requires comprehensive on-site analysis and consultation.

The powerful solution for compaction and spreading So, what are the basic requirements of a refuse compactor? Good traction, to ensure


PA N E L D I S C U S S I O N

Reducing the operator’s workload sensibly

optimum drive power conversion into thrust, and homogeneous compaction are certainly the most important factors. These can only be achieved by optimally adapting the drive unit to the available surface. Clean wheels are also essential for good traction and compaction. A good system ensures this, and generally makes cleaning unnecessary. The tools (teeth, polygon rings) must be designed to provide sufficient penetration and high surface pressure, and must completely cover the entire surface as well as the distributed layer thickness. This, in turn, leads to effective homogenisation and enables above-average compaction results.

Optimising operating costs The operating costs, largely defined by the amount of fuel used, are no less important. The engine’s specific fuel consumption can serve as the first yardstick here, but an efficient system is made up of many puzzle pieces. The first piece is the engine: its lowest fuel consumption is in a cer tain speed range. To fully exploit this, the engine speed must be kept within this range. If more power is required, the engine speed can be increased (using Ecomode). The cooling system can also reduce energy costs.

Large engine fans use a lot of power, so the goal must be to regulate the cooling performance so that only the required amount is provided. This can be achieved by altering the speed or by positioning the blades. To minimise the airflow to be conveyed, the cooler performance needs to be kept at an optimum level by cyclical, automatic cleaning (reversing the direction of rotation or the blade position).

Quicker start due to service-friendly design The minimal need for cleaning also assures good availability. The same is true for easy access to all points of daily visual inspection, ideally on the machine’s ascent side, so that this can be done while climbing up to the cabin. A closed frame pan is used to protect the components and keep the interior clean. To increase uptime, all components need to be easily accessible. This enables maintenance and repairs to be carried out quickly. Ideally, a large, one-piece hood should be installed here to ensure easy access from above. In addition, there should be suitable access points to the front and rear frames that are freely accessible in the lower area, even if the machine does get bogged down.

The driver’s influence is often underestimated: they decisively define the compaction result and, accordingly, the efficient use of the available landfill space. A tired or stressed driver is less focused and therefore less efficient. A comfortable working environment counteracts this and is therefore always a wise investment. Driver assistance systems that allow for blade positions and speeds to be set as well as automate certain work processes bring further benefits in terms of efficiency. Cycles are often repeated hundreds of times a day, so assistance systems can significantly reduce the driver’s workload and cycle times.

Committed to innovation by tradition Time doesn’t stand still! Machines continue to evolve, legal requirements constantly change, and new landfill regulations need to be implemented. Keeping pace with this requires continuous innovation and ongoing dialogue with users to design future-proof machines for landfills. As one of the leading manufacturers of compaction machines, Bomag accepts this responsibility and challenge, introducing machines on to the market that aspire to set new standards in landfill sites. “As waste has been a major and complex challenge for South Africa in recent years, the need for technology within the waste compaction process is key to efficient waste compaction – and this is where Bomag provides suitable solutions for all applications,” says company area manager Randhir Haripersad. Bomag is therefore delighted to be contributing as a manufacturer to the ‘Landfill and Waste Treatment 2021’ virtual conference and looks forward to exchanging ideas and experiences at a high level.

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LANDFILLS

Looming landfill crisis faces

SA’S LARGEST METROS Besides being among our nation’s major metros, Johannesburg, Tshwane and Cape Town have something else in common – they all have less than 10 years of useful landfill life left.

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aste management is the least prioritised municipal ser vice in most South African municipalities. It lags significantly behind housing, water, electricity and road infrastructure. South Africa’s eight Category A metropolitan municipalities have the highest population numbers and therefore generate the largest waste volumes, at around 10-20 Mt (million tonnes) of waste a year each, of which the bulk is landfilled. Landfilling at an average density of 1 t/m3 means that municipalities need an annual landfill space of about 10 million m3. With this space at such a premium, the controlled, planned and systematic filling of

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landfill cells requires progressive closure and rehabilitation. The recent fire at the New England Road landfill in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, has raised awareness about the myriad issues facing the proper management of such sites throughout South Africa. Poorly managed landfill sites can cause numerous environmental issues – not only for natural resources but the social environment as well. According to Elisabeth Nortje, associate director for Environment: Africa at AECOM, there are three areas of impact that need to be considered when thinking about poorly managed landfills – i.e. impacts on the biophysical, social and economic environments. “If you think about the biophysical environment, a poorly managed landfill can, for example, affect

groundwater, vegetation and biodiversity, among others. The impact on groundwater, specifically, has a knock-on effect on surface water, as well as the habitats and users that depend on that resource. Landfills also contribute significantly to emissions,” says Nortje. Landfills are among the nation’s largest sources of methane – a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. When considering the social environment, Nortje notes that it may have an impact on human health. According to a research study titled ‘Health and Environmental Risks of Residents Living Close to a Landfill: A Case Study of Thohoyandou Landfill, Limpopo Province, South Africa’, people living closer to landfill sites are at


LANDFILLS

higher risk of suffering from medical conditions such as asthma, diarrhoea, stomach pain and a weak immune system.

An integrated approach In terms of landfill assessments and management, infrastructure consulting firm AECOM has developed an integrated approach, which allows it to assist clients throughout the landfill life cycle – from site identification and landfill design through to rehabilitation and closure planning. “An integrated management approach encompasses all three spheres I mentioned previously. It refers to a holistic approach to landfill management, which focuses on all aspects of the receiving environment. It would be of no value to focus only on one.” Nortje stresses that an integrated approach will essentially extend the life of a landfill, help prevent pollution, and will help better serve the surrounding communities, among other benefits. It is only with proper planning and attention to duty of care that landfills can be developed and managed in a sustainable way.

Importance of regulation A key component of landfill management is also regulatory. The regulator y aspect is critical, especially due to the large number of unlicensed landfill

sites in South Africa. It takes at least 9 to 12 months to obtain environmental approval, in addition to all the suppor ting specialist technical studies required. Therefore, the critical pathway of any landfill project is quite often the authorisation component. “Many municipalities are really struggling to get this right. In addition, we also have so many unlicensed landfill sites. This is a historic problem, given that many are quite old and started operating well before the latest environmental legislation came into effect,” highlights Nortje. Landfills may need to be closed for various reasons, including unacceptable environmental impacts such as groundwater pollution, and/ or unmanageable air pollution such as dust or odours. Geological issues include dolomitic ground conditions, which can result in water ingress and sinkhole formation. In many instances, improving landfill management and operations is a necessary first step, but if this proves unsuccessful, closure becomes necessary. The process of landfill closure and remediation is legislated by the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (No. 59 of 2008), the Water Act (No. 36 of 1998) and the Waste Management Series. While it might seem that the closure process only commences once the landfill has reached the end of its useful life, there are factors that need to be attended to

while the site is still operational. The slopes of the waste body must be resolved to ensure they lie at a safe angle. This should be maintained throughout the operational phase, after which capping is carried out by means of an engineered liner. Furthermore, all stormwater run-off must be diverted away from the waste body, separating the clean and dirty water circuits, and preventing leachate soaking into the waste body – which can result in subsequent groundwater pollution and odours. The site must also be fully secured and access-controlled to prevent trespassers. For example, there could be an issue with people remining the waste body for recyclables, which presents a fire risk and allows rainwater to permeate the waste body. Following closure and remediation, the landfill site is subject to a recommended post-closure monitoring period of up to 30 years. This is to monitor the integrity of the capping and the impact of the quality of the groundwater in and around the waste body. There may also be a need for ongoing pumping and treatment of the leachate that gathers in the leachate collection system. The landfill will also most likely require a methane management system, whether by landfill gas harvesting or regular flaring, preventing methane build-up, fire risk and air pollution.

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M U N I C I PA L F E AT U R E

TURNING INFORMAL DUMP SITES

into mini drop-offs

A PROACTIVE APPROACH BY DRAKENSTEIN MUNICIPALITY Managing waste in low-income, high-density urban areas is not easy. Open spaces can become littered and unhygienic, which is problematic – especially if children play there. By Hugh Tyrrell*

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rakenstein Municipality has taken a new approach and is siting small drop-off facilities at such hotspots where residents can take excess rubbish for collection into the formal waste management stream. The initiative was the subject of a research project led by Professor Rinie Schenck of the DSI/NRF/CSIR Chair in Waste and Society, supported by GreenEdge Communications and funded by the IUCN’s MARPLASTICCs programme. Municipalities in South Africa and around the world spend millions annually to clear open areas and waterways of illegally dumped materials, including plastic and other packaging, food, and general household waste. A social and environmental health hazard, illegal dumping is a drain on municipal budgets and a complex problem that regular clean-ups alone cannot solve in the long term. Drakenstein Municipality is about 80 km from Cape Town and has been experimenting with various innovative approaches, including the roll-out of mini drop-offs. The first was sited at Mbekweni, a township between Paarl and Wellington, in March 2019. It was constructed with low brick wall surrounds, a timber roof and an opening in front. Soon after installation, however, the roof was burnt off, but the

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structure remained in operation. A design rethink was necessar y. The solid waste management team came up with a prototype based on precast walling sections with no roof, which could be placed in a U-shape around a concrete slab. This made for easy removal of gathered waste materials by a front-end loader. These are to be installed as part of the next phase of the roll-out into Paarl East, a low-income/high-density area with flat blocks, formal ‘RDP’ houses, backyarders and pockets of informal settlements.

Community buy-in Engineering innovations, however, can only go so far. Communities need to make good use of the new technology, which requires an understanding of their circumstances, what they think and feel and how to engage with them. As part of its work, the DSI/NRF/CSIR Chair in Waste and Society undertook research surveys to determine attitudes and perceptions about illegal dumping before and after the launch of the drop-offs in Paarl East. Before the launch, results showed that there was resistance to the installation of the structures from residents, unless they were involved in it or remunerated for assisting in its use. Regular servicing also came up as

one of the concerns. Engaging and informing community members before the installation of facilities was also raised as helping to offset negative perceptions of top-down development. What also came clear was that 65% of residents sur veyed in the area lived in shacks or were tenants in backyard dwellings. The municipality does provide bins for regular refuse removal ser vices to formal houses and black bags to those in informal settlements. Yet much of the waste from backyarders and informal settlements was not getting into the formal collection system, and ended up being dumped illegally.

Public launch A public launch was organised at the site of one of the new drop-offs on 25 May 2021, when Mayor Alderman Conrad Poole formally handed over the new facility to the community for their use. He also announced the start of the ‘Tannie Dinah’ programme. This was his wife’s idea, who suggested that a civic-minded, well-known woman in the community should be paid to help supervise the day-to-day running of the drop-off site, assisted by other local women. Once the drop-off was in operation, it was monitored to assess perceptions and usage by the community. Most were aware of the drop-off


M U N I C I PA L F E AT U R E

and just under half (47.5%) used it to drop off their ‘rommelvullis’, such as garden waste, builder’s rubble, bulky waste, mattresses and broken furniture. Residents also said they take their excess household waste to the drop-off. This provides an alternative if the refuse collection day was missed. Backyarders said they use the mini drop-off for their household waste too, as they do not have their own wheelie bins. Others said they do not use the drop-off because the municipality removes their household waste regularly.

Acceptance of the site From the survey results and other observations, several factors contribute to the positive acceptance of the mini drop-off: • Waste materials can now be more safely and efficiently contained, ready for removal. • The municipality provides a regular waste management service by collecting the gathered materials from the drop-off every day except weekends. • The Tannie Dinah project, where members of the community take responsibility in overseeing the cleanliness of their community, has also had job creation spin-offs for members of the community in maintaining the mini drop-off.

In general, greater cooperation between Drakenstein’s Solid Waste and Landfill Management Depar tment and others would also be beneficial, such as with Social Development and Housing, which have special skills and experience in community engagement and networks to encourage greater par ticipation. This is underlined by an observation from one of the researchers: “We cannot look at the ‘illegal dumping’ in a silo – it has to be looked at in relation to the broader socio-economic condition of the area.” *Hugh Tyrrell is the director of GreenEdge – a specialist communications agency and collaborating consultancy with the DSI/NRF/CSIR Chair in Waste and Society. Thanks to Drakenstein Municipality’s waste management team and members of the Paarl East community. The suppor t of Peter Manyara and the IUCN’s MARPLASTICCs programme is also kindly acknowledged.


ORGANIC WASTE

Western Cape organic waste

LANDFILL BAN ARE THEY READY?

Star ting next year, the Western Cape organics landfill ban will come into effect, requiring a 50% reduction in the annual organic waste dumped in the province’s landfills.

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rganic waste poses numerous environmental challenges at landfill sites as a result of its decomposition. When organic waste decomposes, large amounts of methane gas and carbon dioxide are produced. These are very potent and harmful greenhouse gases. Organic waste also creates leachate – a harmful liquid that can potentially impact soil and groundwater below a landfill site. This makes the diversion of organic waste essential to protecting not only the environment but our natural resources. The Western Cape is only months away from its 2022 target to diver t at least 50% of all organic waste from landfill. So, the big question is: can the Western Cape diver t half of both the 533 745 t of municipal organic waste and 326 935 t of commercial organic waste? According to Julien Ramber t, director of BiobiN South Africa, although the legislative framework is firmly in place, the key factor that will determine whether the Western Cape is ready or not is industr y collaboration. “The legislative framework is in favour of waste diversion, and the uptake of alternative waste treatment (AWT) technologies, like commercial composting units. For composting, specifically, you can process large volumes without requiring a waste management licence.” A business can compost up to 500 kg/day of organic waste and 15 t/month before having to obtain a waste licence. On the other hand, businesses and commercial facilities are not allowed to send waste with a moisture content of more than 40% to landfill. Organic waste falls within this categor y. “With this regulation, AWT, like on-site composting, becomes a more viable option.” Composting activities also play a significant role with carbon tax regulations; businesses can

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gain carbon credits by composting – reducing any carbon tax liabilities in the future.

Key initiatives for diversion Brian Küsel, also director of BiobiN SA, asserts that it is now increasingly important that we look at waste diversion technology and ways to create a secondary resource economy with organic waste. “Organic waste in landfill is problematic but can be valuable when processed correctly.” Rambert asserts that, right now, composting is the most favourable organic waste management option. Onsite composting technology has drastically improved over the past few years to mitigate challenges that were associated with composting, like odours and flies. “On-site in-vessel composting units, like BiobiN, are designed to reduce odours, avoid unwanted species, and allow for a more efficient composting process.” Küsel says another important initiative to reduce organic waste to landfill is redistributing the edible food surplus that is sometimes wasted. Food waste makes up a huge segment of the organic waste stream, and South Africa generates a lot of food waste across the supply chain. At a food production level (farming), 2.7 million tonnes (Mt) go to waste; during storage, 2.4 Mt go to waste; during processing and packaging, 2.6 Mt, during transport and distribution, 2 Mt; and at the post-consumption phase, 0.5 Mt. “Ultimately, to reduce food waste along the supply chain, industry needs to look at redistributing edible food surplus, improving packaging design, and composting in-store in retail,” says Küsel. Waste-to-energy is also something that has received more attention in recent years.

Organic waste can be turned into biofuel. Essentially, the biomass component of organic waste is processed into biofuel. South Africa’s interest in biofuels has grown significantly. Anaerobic digestion is another waste management option that uses microbes in the absence of oxygen to break down organic waste. This process usually takes place in an enclosed tank, called a digestion tank or reactor. The two output products from anaerobic digestion include biogas and digestate. Biogas can be used for energy production and digestate is usually used for agricultural products (i.e. fer tilisers).


ORGANIC WASTE

Promoting a waste economy “Sending organic waste to landfill is a major lost opportunity and this food and organic waste must in future be looked at as a resource. Once disposed of at landfill, waste has no economic relevance. All the above-mentioned organic waste management options present very feasible economic opportunities. Diverting waste from landfill will also save businesses costs, as the costs associated with landfill disposal are high and are predicted to increase as landfill airspace continues to decrease,” states Rambert.

Ultimately the waste management sector is looking at circularity and extracting secondar y resources. With organic waste, it is no different. BiobiN has taken the standard composting process and made it easier to turn waste into a resource, and essentially reduce organic waste management costs and tap into another income-generating oppor tunity (i.e. compost). The type of compost produced from the organic waste processed by a BiobiN is a high-grade soil amendment product, which can be sold, offering another incomegenerating opportunity. “It is technology like this that focuses on extracting value from a waste stream like organics, which creates a secondar y resource and a circular waste economy. With an organic waste ban around the corner, this model will become more prevalent in South Africa,” says Küsel.

Nationwide roll-out With organic waste regulations tightening at a national level, the rest of the country will also need to get its organic waste management in order. Asked whether he thinks this kind of ban can work in other provinces, Rambert says it will simply have to. “Considering organic waste contributes to more than 50% of the total of general waste disposed of in the country, and has a comparative recycling rate of 49%, its diversion needs to be prioritised. With the availability of AWT technologies (like composting and anaerobic digestion), it is possible for municipalities to oversee a transition phase to an eventual ban of organic waste at landfill. “The key at this stage is for the private sector to work closely with government to increase the adoption of AWT technologies. Ultimately, the rest of the country will learn from the Western Cape’s ban and follow suit,” Rambert concludes.

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Make the circle bigger…

Effective Extended Producer Responsibility requires collective thinking and collaborative effort.

Join now to make a difference.

CHOOSE PAPER • PAPER • BOXES • BAGS • BEVERAGE CARTONS• LABELS • PAPER CUPS • CARTONS • SACK KRAF T •

PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY ORGANISATION

www.fibrecircle.co.za

Fibre Circle is the producer responsibility organisation for the paper and paper packaging sector.


PA P E R

SA’S PAPER INDUSTRY

IS GETTING EPR-READY By now, South Africa’s paper and paper packaging producers need to be registered with Fibre Circle to comply he deadline for EPR registrations was with government’s 5 November 2021. These regulations outline Extended Producer a new approach to waste Responsibility (EPR) management for paper, packaging and some single-use products, as well as awareness. Molony has noted a concern Regulations. lighting, electrical and electronic equipment. that the larger paper merchants have not

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The aim is to divert waste from landfills and increase the recovery, recycling and reuse of materials. In October, Fibre Circle, the producer responsibility organisation (PRO) for the South African paper and paper packaging sector, announced that it currently has more than 80 members on its books for its EPR programme. Fibre Circle’s member companies either manufacture or impor t paper or paper packaging (primar y or secondar y), or place their brands in paper-based packaging in the South African market.

An overarching scheme The sector is currently developing an overarching scheme for the common aspects of the identified paper products, supported by product-specific plans. The seven identified paper product classes include newspapers, magazines, office, graphic, mixed and other paper – as well as corrugated cases and kraft paper, liquid board packaging, paper labels and paper sacks. Companies who have signed up to Fibre Circle’s EPR programme have also registered with the South African Waste Information Centre of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE). This is to ensure that they remain compliant and in step with the new EPR Regulations, which will govern how the end of life of paper and paper packaging is managed.

According to the EPR Regulations, all existing producers of identified products, at the time these regulations come into effect (i.e. 5 May 2021), must register with the DFFE within six months of the publication of the Government Notice. This put the deadline at midnight of 4 November.

Workings towards collaboration “These companies have taken the step to be part of Fibre Circle and join other companies as we map the EPR journey,” says CEO Jane Molony. “Given that there is no silver bullet, EPR can be a complicated exercise, and companies going it alone might find it onerous and costly. “By joining now, our members can be part of the collective change that we will make in terms of diverting paper products from landfill,” she says. EPR plans will encompass collaboration with other PROs and municipalities, improving or establishing collection and sor ting infrastructure, waste picker integration and consumer

yet registered with Fibre Circle, potentially leaving them in contravention of the regulations. That said, they may choose to implement their own EPR programmes. “Failure to do so may result in imprisonment, an appropriate fine or both,” says Molony. The regulations apply to importers of identified paper and paper packaging products as well. “There are many paper grades not made in South Africa. These include coated graphic papers such as those used for printing glossy magazines and brochures, and high-end packaging grades that are converted locally. Paper merchants are the companies that help printers bring these into the country. They are required by law to pay an EPR fee per tonne of paper they import,” she concludes.

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PA P E R

How the paper industry is

THE EPITOME OF the circular economy

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he circular economy is defined as a closed loop of taking, making and reusing – as opposed to a linear ‘take-make-waste’ approach. The problem with the linear model is clear: when we treat raw materials (such as wood and water) and energy as infinite, we end up with waste. Waste costs money – which in itself is waste, especially when you consider the costs of landfilling, the loss of reusable materials, and the livelihoods that could have been suppor ted. There are also losses at the expense of the environment, such as greenhouse gas emissions when waste degrades. The circular economy, however, is based on three core principles: reducing waste by design, retaining materials in circulation, and restoring the systems from which resources are extracted. And contrary to popular belief and opinion, the paper industry has for many years adopted the circular approach (see www.thepaperstory.co.za).

Circles in the forest We should all know by now that paper comes from the wood of trees – even the fibres in recycled paper came from a tree at some point in their lives. In South Africa’s case, these trees are sustainably farmed in plantations, with stringent management of their impact on water, soil, neighbouring indigenous landscapes and biodiversity. Gone are the days of detrimental, wall-to-wall af forestation. Today, forestr y companies work in tandem with wetlands,

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Even before the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Regulations were mandated by government, the local pulp and paper manufacturing and recycling sector has been embarking on process and production innovations to reduce its environmental footprint, divert waste from landfill, and stay ahead of the circular economy curve. By Jane Molony*

riparian zones and high-conser vation-value areas to create a mosaic of planted trees and conser vation spaces. Sustainable forest management balances economic, social and environmental needs. While forestr y practices optimise the land’s ability to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration, they also act as buffers for protected indigenous areas. Depending on the species – usually eucalyptus or pine – these trees take around 7 to 10 years to reach maturity. The reason we use exotic species is because they are fastgrowing and we cannot – and will not – use indigenous trees for wood or paper products. Currently, South Africa has 850 million trees growing over 676 000 ha reser ved for pulp and papermaking. Here’s the rub: less than 10% of this total area is har vested during the year. The same area is replanted with new trees – saplings – often at a ratio of two trees for each one har vested. This is the first circle: plant, grow, har vest, replant…

The circle of life The circular economy in forestr y extends to leaving forest residues in situ as a mulch for the next generation of trees. After har vesting, bark, limbs, leaves and small par ts of the har vested trees are left on the forest floor, offering sustenance and refuge for creatures that aid in the decomposition of organic matter, which in turn attracts birds – and so we have another circle. In addition, through photosynthesis, trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and conver t it into food for growth. They also take up water, from the ground or from rainfall. They keep the carbon locked up in their fibres and give us back the oxygen, and some water is also returned to the atmosphere through transpiration.

Circular production processes Even pulp and paper mills operate in a closedloop process, by using natural resources efficiently – often more than once. Process water is reused and recycled, lost fibre is


PA P E R

recovered and reused, and spent chemicals are recovered for energy production. Even bark – a biomass – is used to power boilers, producing steam that generates electricity. This sees us being better at using more of the tree, ensuring little goes to waste.

moulded protective packaging that comes back into our homes, and which we use and recycle. And so, the paper cycle – or circle – continues. The carbon also stays locked up for longer when paper is recycled.

Circling the bin Once pulp and paper are made into what we know – office paper, magazines, books, pizza boxes, cereal boxes, cardboard boxes, newspapers, milk and juice cartons, paper cups – the circle starts to hit home. Office paper can be printed on both sides, and boxes can be reused as storage. Magazines and newspapers are used by schoolchildren for projects and posters. Importantly, paper fibres can be recycled up to seven times; how we dispose of paper products creates another circle. With a four-year average recovery rate of 70%, paper is the second most recovered material in South Africa. By putting them in our rubbish bin, paper products will go to landfill – or, if they are lucky enough to be retrieved by a waste collector, they might get to a recycling mill. But this requires that people apply some basic practices to recycling paper. Ideally, we want paper products separate from wet waste – this keeps them clean for recycling. Even just placing recycling in a separate bag or box for a waste collector who sells these back to a recycling mill makes a considerable difference. Recovered paper is reprocessed and made into corrugated boxes, tissue, cereal boxes and

Circles in the laboratory This is where our circles get really exciting. Some wood-based products are already in circulation in ever yday life. Dissolving wood pulp is used in food, pharmaceutical and textile industries. Cellulose is used as a binder, emulsifier and filler. It’s in our low-fat

yoghur t, cheese and ice cream; it’s in the bathroom cabinet in our lipsticks and vitamins. Our sector can extract xylitol from wood to make non-nutritive sweeteners, and it can also make bricks and biocomposites from paper sludge – the leftovers from the paper recycling process when fibres become too shor t for use. We can make plastic, membranes and films with cellulose, and biodegradable alternatives to fossil fuels from lignin. We have students developing biodegradable fruit fly attractant sheets from nanocellulose, and controlled-release fer tiliser coated with cellulose, starch and diatomite (silica). We can also make attractants for mosquitoes from cellulose-based materials, to help society in the fight against malaria. By increasing the circularity in our sector, we can ensure that we not only increase our contribution to society, the economy and employment, but that the forest products sector can be par t of the solution to climate change and green economic recover y. Consumers can play their par t too. By using pulp and paper products that are cer tified and responsibly produced, and by recycling paper products, we can practise sound environmental stewardship and be par t of the circle. *Jane Molony is executive director at the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA).

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23


PLASTICS

The two sides of the

PLASTICS ARGUMENT There have been a number of articles published in local media recently, more specifically in the Daily Maverick newspaper, in which both the South African plastics industry and government have come under attack. Commentary by Anton Hanekom

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hile remaining silent and choosing not to retaliate to statements in the media might be the most appropriate course of action, there comes a time when we find it necessary to stand up to defend the truth, set the record straight and refute claims that are biased and damaging to an industry that strives to make a valuable contribution to the economy, the country and the environment. In our opinion, many of the statements published were incorrect and without the proper context. It must also be stressed that Plastics SA was never approached by the journalist for comment or to verify the facts. Instead, the publication chose to interview and quote antiplastics environmentalists in its criticism of government for allegedly being “held captive” by the plastics industry and for failing to ban plastics in South Africa.

Anton Hanekom, executive director of Plastics SA

Raising eyebrows for the wrong reasons These inaccuracies have not gone unnoticed by those interested in the management of plastic waste. For example, a LinkedIn post published recently by Rob van Hille, principal consultant at The Moss Group, recently read: “While it is good that the Daily Maverick is publishing ar ticles highlighting the challenges around plastic, society and the environment, the recent ar ticles are littered with factual

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also incorrectly stated that Plastics SA is a producer responsibility organisation … “I realise that many of these articles are written by freelance contributors, but there should be some editorial oversight to ensure facts are accurately reported, particularly if these contributors are featured regularly.” As a country that has recently recorded the highest unemployment rate in the world (34.4%) with 7.8 million citizens currently jobless, one would expect that any effort to create a publicprivate partnership that is focused on sustaining and creating jobs would be welcomed, applauded and supported. It therefore defies belief that the publication would support the view that government should close down an industry that provides employment to roughly 60 000 people and contributed R68 billion (2.3%) directly to GDP and 20% to the manufacturing GDP in 2020. During the same year, R2.1 billion was injected into the informal sector through the purchasing of recyclable plastic waste.

A favourable recycling rate inaccuracies and numbers that make no sense. “Two ar ticles over the last 10 days have claimed that South Africa generates 2 370 tonnes of plastic waste per year. The fact that the figure was repeated … points to the fact that the initial figure was not a typographical error. A medium-sized mechanical recycler processes several times more plastic than this figure annually. Recent articles have

South Africa compares favourably with the best in the world when it comes to mechanical recycling and currently sits at a recycling rate of around 22%. Although there are countries around the world reporting higher recycling figures, it is important to bear in mind that we do not have the same recycling options available as elsewhere in the world – i.e. incineration, waste-to-energy, commercial composting facilities, or advanced recycling such as chemical recycling.


GWEAOSST YE NPPLT IAHCSEKTEI CR S

We also do not have effective separation-atsource waste management systems in place. In its recent 2019 report, Stats SA indicated that 39% of the South African population does not have any regular waste management services provided to them. As a result, the largest quantity of recyclables (64%) in our country comes from landfill and other post-consumer sources where they become dirty, contaminated and inferior in quality. Recyclers must invest heavily in wash plants, electricity and additional labour to get the available material to a standard that meets local requirements. Although it is true that there is ample amount of plastic waste available within our own borders, it is not necessarily the right type, quality or volume that can be used by recyclers to produce a consistent supply of the type or grade that is required. These recyclers need to keep their businesses going, workers employed and the industry operational.

Waste imports They are therefore left with no other option but to import waste from our neighbouring SADC countries if local supply runs short. It is critical to understand the greater context and strict conditions under which plastic waste imports are allowed into the country: • There is no dumping of plastic waste taking place in South Africa. • Our focus is to prevent plastics from ending up in the environment and that cannot be done by allowing uncontrolled dumping to take place. To this end, South Africa imports limited volumes of waste under strict import application requirements within the Basel Convention guidelines, guaranteed take-off agreements, etc. • We import only commodity plastics from neighbouring SADC countries where we have a shortage between recycling capacity and adequate supply available in our own

country. It is primarily our own packaging that is being returned. • Only specialised materials are imported from outside SADC where there is not adequate supply available in our own country or SADC – e.g. PU foam used in the manufacturing of the upper layer of a mattress. • All applications for plastic waste imports need to satisfy three different parties before an import permit is issued – namely the plastics industry, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, and finally the International Trade Administration Commission, who must give the final approval and issue the import permit. • The issuing of an import permit does not mean that all the waste material applied for will be imported. We are confident that plastic waste imports will eventually be completely phased out as South Africa’s EPR schemes are being developed. The producer responsibility organisations will implement improved collection and recycling mechanisms, focus on design for recyclability, reduce unnecessar y packaging through lightweighting, promote the use of recycled content in new products, and develop new endmarkets for recycled plastics.

material with also the smallest environmental footprint – provided that it is recycled. Plastics SA and its various members work hard to help clean the environment, as well as remove litter from rivers, streams and other inland water sources to prevent it from ending up in the environment. We are relentless in our efforts to educate the public and end-market consumers about the responsible disposal of plastics and the importance of recycling. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet that can solve the issue of plastic waste overnight. It requires everybody to collaborate and to develop the required infrastructure to get plastic out of the waste stream and to develop a ‘nothing wasted’ mindset that is crucial to South Africa’s sustainability. I trust this will help to provide clarity and context to the issue and will help to provide answers to the many questions that have recently been raised about the importing of plastic waste to South Africa. Please feel free to reach out to me or any one of the Plastics SA team members should you have any additional queries in this regard.

A potentially minimal environmental footprint Various independent, scientific studies conducted both locally and around the world have proven time and again that plastics are the most suitable and fit-for-purpose packaging

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PLASTICS

Addressing PROBLEMATIC AND UNNECESSARY

plastics

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outh Africa generates 2.4 million tonnes of plastic waste annually – equivalent to 41 kg/capita/year – well above the 29 kg/capita/year global average. Out of this, only 14% is recycled and around 40% of this waste is mismanaged – with 3% leaking directly into the environment. This means that, on average, every citizen leaks at least 1.4 kg of plastic into the environment per year In order to end plastic pollution, we need to rethink the way we design, use and reuse plastics. A systems-level change involving redesign can only be achieved through collaboration across all organisations and individuals that produce and use plastic packaging.

Eliminating problematic packaging The South African Plastics Pact is a collaborative platform that joins businesses, governments, NGOs and industry associations behind the common vision of a circular economy for plastics, by committing to achieve four ambitious targets by 2025 to address plastic waste and pollution at its source. Under Target 1, SA Plastics Pact members have pledged to take action to

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Plastics are fundamental to everyday life. They are a versatile and low-cost alternative to protect and deliver the products we consume on a daily basis.

eliminate problematic or unnecessary packaging items by 2025. Pact members worked together to identify 12 plastic items to be eliminated by the end of 2022. The list of 12 plastic items that will be phased out is as follows: 1. Oxo-degradable plastics 2. PVC bottles, pallet wrap and labels 3. PVC and PET shrink sleeve labels 4. Plastic stickers on fruit and vegetables 5. Thin barrier bags for fruit and vegetables 6. Thin barrier bags used at tills 7. Plastic straws 8. Plastic stirrers 9. Single-use plastic cutlery, plates and bowls 10. Cotton buds with plastic stems 11. Plastic lollipop sticks 12. Plastic microbeads in cosmetics. Captured in a publication titled Addressing problematic and unnecessary plastics, this is an initial list of plastic items to be widely addressed in South Africa. Members of the SA Plastics Pact have pledged to stop producing, distributing, selling or using the items on this first list by December

2022. The publication also lists items identified for inclusion in a second list, which is to be published in due course. All members will be required to develop and adopt the best solutions to eliminate the identified problem plastics, through: phasing out an item as unnecessary; substitution with a material that is well recycled in practice; innovation for reuse of the item; or redesign of the product to eliminate the need for packaging. When eliminating these items, members have to take into consideration unintended consequences and avoid them. Specifically, substituting another material should not create any additional negative environmental impacts nor should food waste be increased as a result of changes in packaging for the South African market.


PLASTICS

In addition to the 12 items highlighted as a priority for action, a further list of items will continue to be investigated, as mentioned, which could potentially be included in a secondphase list. Items identified in this list require longer time scales to address and may also include actions in partnership with other key players to increase the recovery of the items, or to increase recycling capacity or facilitate access to new technologies.

(technically and/or economically not recyclable) or compostable • plastics that contain, or whose manufacturing process requires, hazardous chemicals that pose a significant risk to human health or the environment • plastics that hinder or disrupt the recyclability or composability of other items • plastics for which there is a high likelihood of being littered or ending up in the natural environment.

What are ‘problematic plastics’? According to the report, unnecessary plastics are those that can be avoided (or replaced by a reuse model) while maintaining utility. It defines problematic plastics as having the following characteristics: • plastics that are not reusable, recyclable

The why In South Africa, less than half of all plastic packaging is collected for recycling, with the remainder being landfilled, or littered – affecting the environment, cities and people’s health. This leakage of waste into the environment

is mostly due to a lack of available collection services, citizen behaviour and, at times, the nonrecyclability of the plastic packaging and items. For those packaging and items that are technically recyclable, but not yet recycled in large amounts, the solution is to focus on improving collection and citizen engagement, says the SA Plastics Pact. However, for those not technically or economically recyclable in practice, there needs to be a rethinking in their design and delivery model. The members of the SA Plastics Pact decided to identify and prioritise packaging and small plastic items that are not recycled in practice in South Africa (whether technically not recyclable or recycled in very small volumes), and have alternatives available, for members to remove from circulation over the next two years.


PLASTICS

Suppor ting Miss Ear th SA ON HER GREEN JOURNEY Plastics SA will be supporting the newly elected Miss Earth SA 2021, Nompumelelo Maduna, as she prepares to represent South Africa on the international stage at the end of the year.

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t is with great pride that we now partner with Plastics SA and we are excited to once again work with the organisation and its members as we prepare for Nompumelelo’s par ticipation and representation in the international Miss Earth 2021, which will be taking place virtually due to the global pandemic,” says Ella Bella Leite, director of Miss Earth South Africa. The finals are set to take place on 21 November. Miss Earth is a leadership programme focused on greening the hearts and minds of young South African women. However, lockdown restrictions have kept the Miss Earth team from working on the ground, visiting schools and communities, as it did prior to Covid-19. This has forced them to reconsider their traditional way of working and impacting society.

Raising awareness Although the focus of her Green Journey for 2021 will be on a vegetable garden development project in Kliptown, Soweto, as part of a feeding programme for the impoverished community, Nompumelelo will also be using her voice and influence on the global platform to help raise awareness about the dangers of pollution entering the marine environment as part of the organisation’s #WasteStopsWithMe campaign. “Plastics are a very important and useful material for our modern society. There is not a single aspect of our lives that doesn’t rely

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on plastics to make it more efficient, easier or more cost-effective. However, it is important for us to get the message out as far and wide as possible that plastics should not end up in the environment where they risk the health, safety and well-being of humans, animals and marine life,” says Anton Hanekom, executive director of Plastics SA.

Proud supporters To assist Nompumelelo on her journey and in her various clean-up and gardening activities, she was gifted two pairs of PVC gumboots by Silver Lining Gumboots in KwaZulu-Natal. These stylish gumboots are as much at home in a mall as they are in a mud puddle, and are shipped to international markets, such as New Zealand, where they are gaining in popularity. “The Classic Gumboot is made with a waterproof PVC toffee sole and black recycled upper, while the shorter Umhlanga Chelsea-style is ideal for easy slip-on and is adorned with our unique cloud stud, adding a touch of elegance to this classic gumboot style. We know she will always look stylish wearing her gumboots made from 100 % recycled PVC,” say Liz Payne and Cally van Blerk, owners of Silver Lining Gumboots. “As an industry and as a country, we stand behind her and know that she will do us proud as she promotes the use of our earth’s resources in a responsible manner and represents our nation and brands respectively,” Hanekom concludes.


INDUSTRIAL SYMBIOSIS

TURNING DRUMS

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he SANParks-SWM partnership was facilitated by the National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPC-SA) through the Mpumalanga Industrial Symbiosis Programme (ISP), which promotes the exchange of residual resources of one company. Having attended oppor tunity-creation training cour tesy of the ISP, SWM applied the industrial symbiosis concept to synergise with SANParks and reuse the latter’s fuel drums for another application. SWM provides services in waste management and treatment. The SMME also focuses on providing environmental education awareness and campaigns to local schools and communities. The company has managed to save SANParks 31.08 t of landfill waste, by cleaning and converting its fuel drums into dustbins for waste collection and placing them at different places within the Lillydale community – at schools, parks and government buildings.

Solving the waste problem Previously, SANParks would store the empty fuel drums on-site or have them collected ad hoc by employees for personal use – and subsequently disposed of at landfills. However, the organisation realised that this solution was not aligned with its sustainable environmental plan, which required

into dustbins

To provide a sustainable and environmental solution to the disposal of its metal fuel drums, the South African National Parks (SANParks) Air-wing has partnered with Swikoxeni Waste Management (SWM), a Mpumalanga-based SMME, to help support its environmental management plan.

the drums to be disposed of responsibly and diverted from landfill. What was regarded as trash has now become a solution to waste problems. The dustbins will be located strategically in facilities where there is a shortage or absence of waste collection bins. This will reduce littering. The collected waste from the beneficiaries will be collected, separated and sent for recycling by SWM.

Making a difference To date, 370 drums have been collected and diverted from landfill, having found an application that’s beneficial for the environment and community. The synergy resulted in the creation of two permanent jobs, as skills were needed to manufacture the dustbins. In addition, 499 t of greenhouse gas emissions were reduced through avoiding

virgin raw material usage in manufacturing new dustbins. The environmental impact of SANParks’ initiative is demonstrated through the usage of the drums as dustbins and through the environmental education of the community. This takes place through the nearby schools, one home base centre, one agricultural cooperative, two recycling centres in Bushbuckridge, and a Sabi Kruger cooperative. Through industrial symbiosis, the reuse of a waste stream from one sector found an application in another, which resulted in the diversion of metal drums from landfill and benefitted 20 schools, thus improving waste management activities within the wider community. For more information on this and other NCPC-SA case studies, visit: www.ncpc.co.za.

The synergy presented a reuse solution for a waste stream that requires no reprocessing or natural resources in its remanufacture. As such, the reuse of the fuel drums is a completely sustainable solution

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GREEN BUILDINGS

Solar trees to provide renewable energy at

EASTGATE SHOPPING CENTRE Eastgate Shopping Centre has introduced solar trees to the centre’s rooftop Piazza to provide efficient and renewable energy.

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iberty Two Degrees (L2D) – a South African precinct-focused, retail-centred real estate investor trust (REIT) – has strengthened its commitment to creating spaces that are agile, adaptable and aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as L2D’s 2030 net-zero carbon target. The solar trees serve to provide a source of renewable solar energy to the centre and increase the public’s awareness of alternative and responsible energy sources, while providing an architecturally enriched identity. The solar trees are self-reliant, harnessing energy from the sun to illuminate at night. With a bespoke installation of lights, the trees also contribute to feature lighting in the Piazza, while operating off the grid. The solar trees therefore come ‘alive’ in the evenings on their own accord for approximately five to six hours. The installation of the solar trees at the centre will contribute towards minimising the centre’s impact on the natural environment. as well as L2D’s net-zero target.

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Jonathan Sinden, COO at L2D, says the REIT’s aim is to accelerate its positive impact on the natural environment and remain bold in driving net zero commitments. “The solar trees at Eastgate are an exciting initiative as we aim to implement renewable energy projects throughout our portfolio, while creating sustained value for our stakeholders. This initiative also aims to inspire customers to adopt sustainability practices in their everyday lives for the benefit of the natural environment.”

The centre is able to present patrons with a renewed ambience and overall experience when dining out, or simply strolling through the Piazza,” adds Sinden. This initiative is in partnership with architects Batley Partners, who took on the function of conceptualising a vision that would be befitting of the physical space, while matching the overall ethos of the centre with the ultimate goal of uplifting the atmosphere of the Piazza for the benefit of its patrons.

A wider project

Solar tree aesthetics

With the aim of improving accessibility while easing congestion in the mall areas, L2D’s strategy to activate rooftop spaces offers further outdoor opportunities and enables customers to experience the mall differently, while “creating good, smart and interactive spaces” for shoppers to interact. “The solar trees form part of a wider Piazza project, which includes a journey through an artistic interpretation of sustainability, community and nature for the benefit of future generations.

The solar tree concept at the Piazza, inspired by a visit to Baines’ Baobabs in the Botswana Nxai Pan National Park, doubles as public art and further aims to bring new energy to the area, enabling photo opportunities and a sense of community and connectedness between visitors. The aesthetics of the solar trees was dictated by the scale of the trees and their relationship to the shopping centre. Three is the smallest nuclear family unit in nature; with this, an ensemble comprising a large ‘father’ tree – which towers at


leaves and canopies in order to achieve a series of harmonious, sculptured architectural elements,” comments Edmund Batley from Batley Partners. The solar trees have continued to efficiently generate energy since October 2020. The design, manufacturing and installation of the solar trees saw over 200 people contribute to the successful completion of this project. The contractor responsible for bringing to life and constructing the solar trees was Anchor ENGinuity.

An iconic structure “Anchor ENGinuity is exceptionally proud of this project. Having had many years of experience in the specialised steel field, the Eastgate solar tree project is definitely one of the most iconic steel structures in South Africa. Integrating the steel component with electrical, solar and stainlesssteel cladding really creates a very special and unique world-class structure,” says Andrew Kirkland from Anchor ENGinuity. L2D is passionate about taking its centres to new levels of innovation. Customer experience remains the cornerstone of the L2D business – the company therefore continuously seeks to enhance the customer experience while creating value. “The state-of-the-art solar trees further enhance the Piazza’s offering to patrons and tenants alike, creating a sculptural, functional and sustainable environment, while entrenching our commitment to our patrons by providing them with iconic shopping experiences,” Sinden concludes.

13.5 m in height and 14 m in diameter – a slightly smaller ‘mother’ tree and the smallest being a ‘child’ tree was conceptualised. This concept speaks to Eastgate’s philosophy of creating family-focused activities, thus forming relatable, community-driven and memorable experiences. The trees consist of tubular hollow steel sections that have a 20-year lifespan requiring minor maintenance. The hollow steel sections mostly resemble tree ‘trunks’ and ‘branches’, and are extremely flexible, allowing for the necessary bendability, and convenient transporting and installation. The solar panels are set to operate for 10 years and are easily replaced. The solar trees are covered in stainless-steel netting called Jakob Webnet procured from Switzerland. Within this net, infills were placed to create an architectural effect. Several solar photovoltaic panels mounted on top of each spiral are able to provide light. “It became remarkable how our design team had to continually adjust the trees’ components to resemble the geometry in nature and search for new types and ensembles of material to represent


PLASTICS


GEOSYNTHETICS

Providing superior LINING SOLUTIONS AKS Lining Systems offers a range of products used in diverse applications such as construction, waste and water treatment, landfill and environmental protection industries.

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ince it was established in 2002, AKS Lining Systems has specialised in supplying high-per formance, long-lasting lining solutions to the market. The company has since grown to become a competitive global producer of thermoplastic lining products, expor ting these to more than 30 countries worldwide.

Tried and trusted According to Peter Hardie, manager: Technical & International Sales, AKS Lining Systems, the company’s main focus remains on its highdensity polyethylene (HDPE) range of Geoliners. “HDPE of fers the highest broad-based chemical resistance in terms of a lining systems and remains the liner of choice in landfill sites and other aggressive containment structures, especially where you are not 100% sure what type of chemistr y might be present.” Hardie asserts that although the standard HDPE 1.5 mm and 2.0 mm liners have remained the main sellers, more projects are being specified with a textured liner. “We also offer a range of texturing options for our liners, and these are used extensively on some of the ver y large tailings and ash storage sites. The textured sur face gives the design engineers superior per formance options when looking at side-slope lining, slope stability and other design criteria.” A product range the company is particularly proud of is the recently developed and popular Mega/ Micro product. This is manufactured with a high asperity or spike on the

one side, and a smaller asperity on the other side. These being >1.1 mm on the bottom side and >0.65 mm on the top side. What this product offers the design engineers is that they can create a ‘preferential’ slip inter face within their lining system. The larger asperity will offer a higher friction into the subgrade or soil than what the small asperity offers to the top layer. Therefore, if there is any settlement inside the lined structure, due to waste being compacted or for any reason, the slip will occur on the top side of the liner, meaning that your liner or barrier system remains in place, protecting and containing the waste.

New and improved AKS Lining Systems has recently produced a range of LLDPE liner for a local landfill site. LLDPE (linear low-density polyethylene) is a more flexible liner and, when used in the right application, offers a few benefits over conventional HDPE. Other than LLDPE, AKS Lining Systems is also exploring the use of a ‘bi-modal’ resin. These newer resins offer exceptional environmental stress

crack resistance, along with the high chemical performance that HDPE offers. “On our co-extrusion machines, we are also supplying what is referred to as a ‘reflective liner’. This is a liner that is extruded with a thin, light-coloured surface on the top exposed side. This assists with reflecting sunlight and heat during the installation process and allows the liner to lay flatter, to assist with the placement of cover soil and protection layers. In addition to that, we can also manufacture conductive liners, but this would be an interview topic all on its own.”

Mission 2022 AKS Lining Systems has built a solid reputation based on a commitment to provide superior quality products and even though the pandemic has presented some challenges, this philosophy has remained in place. “As we are the largest locally based manufacturer of geomembrane liners, South Africa and our local clients remain the main focus going into 2022, and for the foreseeable future. During 2021, we made the decision to invest in further expansion of our supply into South Africa, and we ordered another large extrusion machine. We will be taking delivery of our third large 7 m wide extruder early next year (February), and this will give us an output capacity of around 2 million square metres of liner per month. For further information, please visit aks.co.za, email info@aks.co.za or call +27 (0)21 983 2700.

Peter Hardie, manager: Technical & International Sales

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RECYCLING

Mpact Plastics LEADS THE WAY The introduction of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Regulations in South Africa has been a major step towards a circular economy. Many businesses are now having to adjust their day-to-day operations to meet these new regulations.

What are the EPR Regulations? The EPR Regulations are a policy instrument for the sustainable organisation and financing of specific waste streams, including discarded packaging and single-use items. These regulations require ‘producers’ to assume responsibility for the entire product life cycle of ‘identified products’ – from production, through its useful life, up to and including the end-of-life stage – and aim to reduce waste to landfill and waste leakage into the environment.

How does this differ from how these products were dealt with previously at the end-of-life stage? Previously, the management of identified products at the end-of-life stage was handled by local government, who assumed responsibility for the waste in terms of where waste would be collected from, using either a one- or two-bag

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for EPR ReSource speaks to Neelin Naidoo, MD at Mpact Plastics – a leading local plastic packaging supplier – about the how the business has prepared for this new era of waste management in South Africa.

system. Waste collected in a one-bag system is disposed of at landfill sites, where waste pickers would retrieve recyclable materials. Waste separated at source using a two-bag system would go to a materials recover y facility, where valuable recyclable materials are separated and sent for recycling. These systems will continue under the new EPR Regulations; however, the producer will be required to meet set collection and recycling targets for different classes of identified products.

products into the local market; and, third, the volumes of the identified products must exceed 10 t/annum per category specified. It is suggested that businesses consult the legislation for detailed definitions of ‘identified products’ and ‘producer’, or contact the relevant producer responsibility organisation (PRO) to verify their legal obligations. Should you be classified as a producer, you are required to either develop your own EPR scheme, or join a PRO that will develop and manage an EPR scheme on your behalf.

Who is included in the EPR Regulations as producers, and what must these businesses do to be compliant?

What is a PRO, and what is their role in the context of the EPR Regulations?

There are three considerations that determine whether the regulations apply to your business. First, your business must fall within the definition of ‘producer’; second, it must place identified

A PRO is a non-profit organisation established by producers of one or more classes of identified products and is managed by a board of directors comprising representatives from the producers. PROs assume responsibility on behalf of the


RECYCLING

individual member companies or producers for the collection and recycling responsibilities as stipulated in the EPR Regulations.

What does the South African PRO landscape look like? Until recently, seven PROs represented the paper and packaging industries of South Africa. Considering the EPR Regulations, two of the PROs engaged in plastic packaging – namely Petco and Polyco – have broadened their scope of identified products, allowing them to provide a broader ser vice to their members. A new addition to the PRO landscape, Copco, acts as a compostable packaging PRO.

Who will be paying the EPR levies, and how will double payment be prevented? One of the producers, as defined, must pay the levy to the PRO. The levy is then passed on in the value chain by the relevant producer. To ensure that levies are not paid twice to the PRO, we encourage our customers to obtain verification from their suppliers that they belong to a PRO for the identified products supplied to them, and that prices include the

levy. Levy payments can then be verified with the PRO.

How do your customers know you are meeting your EPR obligations? Mpact has been a voluntar y, levy-paying member of various PROs long before it was legislated. We are currently registered with Fibre Circle, Petco and Polyco, and have also registered with the Depar tment of Forestr y, Fisheries and the Environment, as required by the EPR Regulations. We are active participants in the PROs and regularly engage with our customers on the topic of EPR, using different platforms, including webinars and our EPR hotline: EPR@mpact.co.za.

Can Mpact assist its customers in designing products aligned with EPR requirements? Yes. Our Innovation and Design Centre focuses on the conceptualisation and development of products that drive recycling and innovation. We adopt a phased life-cycle approach for all projects. This means that we begin with a consultative concept and feasibility stage that considers design requirements, brand

positioning, the value chain and on-shelf presence. EPR requirements are considered at the feasibility and concept generation stage, where we continually evaluate and consider the balance between customer requirements and reduction, reuse and recycling.

Is the recycling of packing materials a feasible option to consider for South Africa? Most definitely. South Africans are often described as entrepreneurial and creative, and the recycling landscape definitely mirrors that. Extensive collection and materials handling networks – across all packaging material types – exist in South Africa, as can be seen in the annual South African Plastics Recycling Survey published by Plastics SA. The EPR Regulations create an opportunity for further growth in the sector by placing an active focus on new recycling infrastructure and systems, as well as on improvements to existing ones.

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RECYCLING

As waste generation rises, recyclers are finding GREEN SOLUTIONS Law reform has driven the recycling revolution in South Africa over the past decade, as producers are forced to take increased responsibility for their waste, says Ryan van Heerden*.

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he world is generating more and more waste ever y year. This includes waste generated by manufacturers, as consumer shopping habits and technology change. The World Bank estimates that waste generation will increase from 2.01 billion tonnes in 2016, to 3.40 billion tonnes in 2025, with at least 33% not managed in an environmentally safe manner. The legally compliant management of waste in South Africa has become increasingly complex. The promulgation of stringent legislation in the past decade has meant that organisations have an obligation to seek out new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Regulations came into effect on 5 May 2021 and outline a new approach to waste

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management in South Africa, changing how producers, brand owners, retailers and importers design, make, sell and keep their products in the recycling loop as far as is practicably possible. Producers in the electrical and electronic equipment sector, the lighting sector, and the sector for paper, packaging and some single-use products have until 5 November 2021 to comply with the requirements of the new EPR Regulations. Close to 100 million tonnes of waste is sent to more than 800 landfill sites around South Africa each year, and according to Research & Markets analysts, less than 40% of these materials are recycled. In addition, only 6% of the more than 65 million tonnes of hazardous

waste is recycled. The 2019 research revealed that plastics recycling in South Africa has continued to grow, with more than 330 000 t recycled annually – a higher average than in Europe. However, only about 10% of the countr y’s 350 000 t of e-waste scrap is recycled. These figures show there is room for improvement; we have clearly come a long way but there is much work to be done. This is why we have increasingly sought out implementation-driven solutions to accommodate all waste streams, focusing efforts on supporting a move to a circular economy. Growth in plastic waste can be slowed further if there is investment in waste management infrastructure and if ef for ts are made internationally to reduce the fraction of plastic in municipal solid waste. This comes down to waste separation at source – a trend


ENERGY EFFICIENCY

that has grown exponentially in South Africa in the past decade. Encouraging our customers to buy into the idea of waste stream separation has entailed a mindset change; businesses in the early 2000s didn’t care much about where their waste went, as long as it was safely disposed of. At EnviroSer v, our On-site Ser vices Division had to work hard to sell the idea of waste minimisation and reduction. Today, a business’s focus begins with minimising waste generation, looking at reducing volumes. While the earlier mantra was simply ‘reduce and recycle’, today we address the waste hierarchy for the full life cycle of waste. As we moved towards finding more innovative waste management solutions to meet customer requirements, we have increasingly become a partner in green procurement initiatives to identify waste streams that require change to support the government’s zero-waste-to-landfill initiatives. As a signal of how things have changed, a full third of our workforce today is dedicated to recycling and alternative waste management efforts – having doubled in size from a decade ago.

Increase in recyclable waste streams In the early 2000s, when we started with the separation of waste management streams, we mainly recycled cardboard,

paper, plastics and cans. Alternatives to landfilling – like using food waste to make animal feed, and composting – didn’t exist. Today, we are doing much more in terms of diverting waste from landfill using alternative green solutions. We are also addressing highly technology-driven waste streams, facilitating recycling items like ink cartridges into furniture, and plastics such as BOPP being used to make bricks.

Reporting has changed The way we share information with our customers on how they are helping to protect the environment has also changed. Previously, it was merely a recycling report; today, it has become a full sustainability report, with a much stronger focus on resources saved, carbon footprint, and a more comprehensive view on how their actions are having an impact on the environment.

Greater awareness of recycling and waste stream diversion Over the past five years, we have been looking at more alternatives to simply transporting waste to landfill. Today, there are easier, more numerous methods of diversion available to allow our customers to divert their waste. This is driven by waste generators receiving more substantive rebates for materials diverted from landfill, as the demand for recyclable material has become higher due to EPR. This sees manufacturers under more pressure to create recyclable packaging. There were previously no recycling programmes in schools; today, almost all have recycling bins, and the Department of Basic Education has included recycling part of the curriculum under Life Orientation, where children learn

about general recyclables and the importance of recycling in a modern world.

New materials recycled Government has classified fluorescent, compact fluorescent lights and light-emitting diodes – which contain materials hazardous to the environment – as hazardous. They can no longer be disposed of at landfills and their recycling is a legal requirement. EnviroSer v, in our drive to be part of the circular economy, has partnered with industr y specialists to recycle our customers’ batteries rather than send them to landfill. Lithium-ion batteries contain valuable metals and other materials that can be recovered, processed and reused. When batteries reach their end-of-life, we can’t just dump them with municipal waste. All batteries, whether for domestic or industrial use, are harmful to our environment if not properly recycled or disposed of. Today, disposal in landfills takes place only when no other alternative waste solutions exist. A collaborative approach to waste management is required between government and industry to keep the environment as clean as possible. Only through this public/private sector partnership will South Africa achieve its environmental Sustainable Development Goals, which include taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, and ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. *Ryan van Heerden is the national manager of On-site Ser vices at EnviroSer v.

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The home of

infrastructure

Infrastructure development, building, maintenance, service delivery

Complete water resource and wastewater management

Promoting integrated resource and waste management

The official magazine of the Water Institute of Southern Africa.

The official magazine of the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa.

IMESA The official magazine of the Institute of Municipal Engineering of Southern Africa

Get your products, services and equipment noticed by infrastructure decision-makers www.3smedia.co.za TO ADVERTISE Hanlie Fintelman +27 (0)82 338 2266 Hanlie.Fintelman@3smedia.co.za

Joanne Lawrie +27 (0)82 346 5338 Joanne.Lawrie@3smedia.co.za TO SUBSCRIBE +27 (0)11 233 2600 subs@3smedia.co.za


P U M P S & VA LV E S

The countr y’s foremost supplier of pumps and valves is standing ready to assist government, utilities and municipalities to aver t a wastewater catastrophe resulting from ageing infrastructure and a fastgrowing population.

K

SB Pumps and Valves has a wide range of locally manufactured, as well as globally developed, wastewater solutions that can be applied in almost every local application. Possessing manufacturing facilities in Johannesburg, KSB has decades of local experience and can use this knowledge in collaboration with other KSB factories globally to supply pump solutions to wastewater customers. According to David Jones, regional sales manager, KSB Pumps and Valves, wastewater and sewage pose a significant challenge for systems, components and materials. These systems therefore need to be at the pinnacle of reliability and energy efficiency, with the lowest possible operating costs.

Safe solution “As the market leader, KSB is the right partner for trouble-free and efficient system operation. KSB supplies pumps and valves for wastewater applications that work reliably and efficiently even under the most difficult conditions – whether in wastewater treatment and disposal or flood control,” says Jones. He adds that the company invests heavily in research and development to ensure systems

Helping to avert

a wastewater disaster operate according to the required specifications, with minimal maintenance and low life-cycle costs. Sales and ser vice centres across Southern Africa also ensure that pumps can be obtained and operated optimally wherever they are required and in almost any application.

The KSB Amarex KRT wastewater submersible pump

Advanced solutions The challenges faced in wastewater treatment are growing and engineering contractors dealing with treatment across the globe are facing the same challenge: sewage, wastewater and sur face water increasingly contain foreign material such as wet wipes and stringy material liable to clog pumps. Particularly in times of decreasing budgets and increasing process complexity, wastewater treatment plants must be operated as efficiently and smoothly as possible, with maintenance requirements being kept to a minimum. To deal with these challenges, KSB Pumps and Valves offers bespoke solutions for pumps and valves, as well as service that helps operators keep systems running efficiently and reliably. KSB’s energy-efficient, low-maintenance pumps are employed in wastewater treatment plants at all cleaning stages – e.g. for preliminary screening in intake pumping stations, handling primary and floating sludge, and recirculating activated sludge in biological wastewater treatment.

Fit for purpose “Designed with non-clogging impellers and large free passages, wastewater pumps from the

The KSB Amaprop provides submersible

Compact wastewater submersible pump with

mixing solutions

cooling jacket – the KSB Amarex KRT

KSB Amarex F Max, Amarex KRT and Sewatec type series ensure efficient operation even when handling fluids with a high solids content. Energy-saving drives, wear-resistant materials and smart automation products optimise your processes, improve the per formance of your system, and reduce maintenance requirements. Water-tight cable entries and mechanical seals with covered springs for use in particularly abrasive wastewater are just some of the special design details contributing to even higher levels of reliability. “Mixers produced by KSB are also available to aid the degradation of pollutants by circulating wastewater. These have optimised hydraulic systems and break-proof propellers for longer maintenance inter vals. In addition to pumps, the KSB Amaprop mixers can be complemented with reliable valves, such as HERA-BDS knife gate valves that can be used to shut off pipes during maintenance work. “All wastewater pump per formance data is verified at our factor y’s test facilities. With KSB Helps and KSB EasySelect, we provide two professional software solutions to ensure optimum and efficient pump selection. We also offer comprehensive application knowledge for small- and large-scale projects, with expert advice from our professional team anywhere in Southern Africa,” Jones concludes.

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E-WASTE

Cutting-edge gas recycling

to roll out

ACROSS SOUTH AFRICA Reclite SA has formed a strategic par tnership with A-Gas to invest in a high-tech plant to recover refrigerant gases for reuse from disposable refrigerant cylinders, scrapped domestic and commercial refrigerators, freezers, and air-conditioning systems.

R

eclite SA is a leading South African waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycling company and the first WEEE recycler in the countr y to implement its environmentally responsible refrigerant recover y ser vice. “We have launched this exciting ser vice at our Germiston facility in Gauteng and will roll it out to our branches in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal next,” says Steffen Schröder, technical director, Reclite SA. Thereafter, the plan is to go nationwide. “Reclite SA is fully licensed and legally compliant according the Depar tment of Forestr y, Fisheries and the Environment’s National Environmental Management: Waste Act

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(No. 59 of 2008). And in September this year, we celebrated achieving 97.5% compliance in an audit conducted in line with international Cenelec standards.” This initiative supports A-Gas’ purpose to protect and enhance the environment by reducing global warming gases and preventing their release into the atmosphere.

Targeting zero “Our ‘Towards Zero, Together’ initiative encapsulates our purpose and puts it in action” says Carte Lubbe, managing director, A-Gas. “We are committed to targeting zero in ever y aspect of work that we carr y out worldwide. ‘Towards Zero, Together’ encompasses our dedication to staying safe, protecting our

environment, and preventing emissions leaking into the atmosphere.” For A-Gas, targeting zero means: • Zero Harm – striving for zero harm in all the company does so ever yone can go home after work in the same condition they arrived in. • Zero Leaks – committing to targeting zero leaks to the atmosphere to protect each other and the environment. • Zero Carbon – striving to achieve a zero carbon footprint at all its locations across the group. “For almost 30 years, we have helped customers globally to achieve their environmental goals while ensuring we target zero and protect the environment,” says Lubbe. “A major challenge in the refrigerant industr y is what happens to


E-WASTE

We need new ways of designing, producing, consuming and disposing of products. Reclite SA aims to be the industry leader in environmental, health and safety performance with regard to waste electrical and electronic equipment management.” Steffen Schröder, Technical Director, Reclite SA

Fast facts you need to know: • Historically, CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) have been widely used as refrigerants, propellants (in aerosol applications) and solvents. CFCs contribute to ozone depletion and their manufacture has been phased out under the Montreal Protocol, in favour of products such as HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons). • Recycling disused temperature exchange equipment – i.e. appliances such as domestic and commercial refrigerators, freezers and air-conditioning systems – is essential for protecting the climate and the ozone layer. • Poorly designed/maintained installations or refrigeration and heat exchange units abandoned as waste can lead to emissions into the atmosphere. These emissions have a direct impact on climate change.

the gases when they are no longer required. By recovering, reclaiming and repurposing refrigerant gases, we are reducing the risk of unnecessar y and harmful gases being released into the atmosphere.”

Towards a circular economy One of Reclite SA’s key objectives is to contribute to circular economy principles and to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, confirms Schröder. He adds: “Our belief is that quality engagement with the whole value chain – customers, contractors, suppliers, our partners, communities and all stakeholders – is essential to realising robust relationships and is fundamental to Reclite SA’s long-term success.”

• Heat exchangers and compressor systems are not the only products that contain climate-changing gases – the foam insulation found in this equipment does too. • CFCs contained in older compressors and polyurethane insulation foams, as well as HFCs now replacing these products, must be removed from the flow of waste appliances and heat exchange equipment due to their ozone depletion or global warming potential. • Global warming potential is an index that relates the potency of a greenhouse gas to that of carbon dioxide. Using this index, an emission of one kilogram of a refrigerant such as HFC-134a would have the same impact over 100 years as an emission of 1 300 kg of CO2.

In a circular economy, natural resources are reused again and again without ever ending up in waste landfill sites nor being dumped at sea. Globally, people, governments, universities and companies are looking at ways to make economies more ‘circular’. Achieving this means waste that is generated becomes new material for new products. Says Schröder: “This means we need new ways of designing, producing, consuming and disposing of products. Reclite SA aims to be the industr y leader in environmental, health and safety per formance with regard to WEEE management. This strategic partnership with A-Gas is one more step in that direction.”

Lubbe adds: “Refrigeration and air conditioning are critical parts of the way we live. A-Gas plays a crucial role in this and people around the world come into contact with our products ever y day – at the supermarket and in their cars, offices and homes. This makes our partnership with Reclite SA truly symbiotic in this respect and presents an exciting future for both companies and Reclite SA customers.” Schröder concludes: “The climate is changing, and we all have a part to play in protecting our planet. Achieving net zero is an incredibly ambitious target, which we cannot achieve alone – but together, we can.”

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E-WASTE

CIRCULAR AND SUSTAINABLE asset disposal solutions ITAD AFRICA is a 100% black-owned Information Technology (IT) asset disposal and electronic equipment recycling company, which prides itself on providing efficient and sustainable services.

F

ormerly known as Qobo Recycling, ITAD AFRICA was first established in 2007, and our team has 20 years of experience in the recycling industry. ITAD AFRICA not only has a strong commitment to environmental sustainability, security and regulatory compliance but the company is also aligned to the principles of the circular economy. According to founder and managing director Andile Mahlangu, his passion for e-waste recycling was first sparked in 2010 while he was working very closely with landfills. “Operating on a landfill gave me the opportunity to see how much electronic waste was really being dumped. I also saw how this waste stream was piling up on landfills, because people are unclear about what to do with their e-waste. “I saw the scale of opportunity and, after engaging with other industry leaders in the field, decided to focus my energy and resources on the reuse and safe disposal of IT assets,” says Mahlangu.

Committed to sustainability ITAD’s mission is to create sustainable solutions for the disposal of obsolete IT assets, specialising in electronic waste recycling and providing full turnkey IT recycling solutions. The company offers clients the following services: • I T asset disposal – This ser vice is instrumental in the responsible disposal of electronic waste and the preser vation of our environment. • IT scrap recovery and safe disposal – Providing secure and environmentally sound computer

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recycling, ITAD is certified and committed to protecting client security and the environment. When you recycle computers and electronics with ITAD, you know your e-waste is being handled responsibly. • Data destruction – Data destruction ser vices provide a secure way for you to recycle unwanted computers and electronics without worr ying about data being left behind on your old devices. “We work with both the government and private sector, tailoring our ser vice to best ser ve each client’s needs. Our commitment is to develop and adhere to best-in-class processes from the point of pick-up through to final disposition, which keeps the company at the forefront of industr y developments and improvements. We ensure that you have a complete audit trail of the activities – from collection point to refurbishment, recycling and data destruction,” says Mahlangu. Clients receive a full inventory of their items together with a value recovery and recycling report and, if applicable, a certificate of destruction. “If the device is beyond economic repair, ITAD AFRICA properly recycles it in compliance with the zero-disposal landfill policy as gazetted by the National Department of Forestr y, Fisheries and the Environment. We aim to create sustainable solutions and strongly believe in

aligning our ser vices to the circular economy,” says Mahlangu.

Technology As of August 2021, all types of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) are prohibited from being disposed of at landfills in South Africa. Mahlangu asserts that although this is big step in directing the accountability where it needs to go – i.e. the producer – this needs to go beyond money. “We need to focus on getting the right technology and develop the necessary programmes to ensure that the funds are used effectively and to the benefit of the sector and environment.”

Collaboration and community Geared towards accelerated IT adoption and the alleviation of socio-economic challenges in previously marginalised communities, ITAD strongly believes in working together with the youth and women to help empower them. “Our biggest goal is to reuse IT assets in such a way that they can be put back into the market and essentially help with the advancement of underser ved markets. That is why we will also be launching our ITAD store, where we will sell preowned IT equipment at discounted rates for students, NGOs, as well as woman- and youth-owned businesses and farming operations.” For more information on ITAD AFRICA, visit their website on www.itad.africa or email info@itad.africa.


RENEWABLE ENERGY

Repurposing

COAL STATIONS All over the world, utilities are facing the problem of what to do with obsolete and inefficient power stations. By Wayne Glossop & Tord Johnsson*

M

ost of South Africa’s power stations were built in the 1960s and 1970s, when the predominant technology was coal. In the 21st century, as the focus is converting to a low-carbon economy, coal technology cannot be rejuvenated. But these sites can be adapted to become modern, multiuse facilities. Shutting old coal-fired power stations, demolishing them and sterilising the site has a number of undesirable effects, including significant environmental liabilities, socio-economic hardship, and the stranding of transmission infrastructure that still has value but is impracticable to move. A far better solution to decommissioning is coal ‘repurposing’ – which aligns with the principles of reuse and recycle in the circular economy.

Endless possibility As South Africa moves towards a greater reliance on renewable energy sources, and starts to close its older power stations, its need for dispatchable power to balance the grid can be linked to the repurposing of those sites. Their special attraction is that they already have some of the necessary environmental permits in place and are well situated for access to transport links and transmission infrastructure. We envisage that some of those power generation sites could become gas power plants. Some of the renewable energy developers could be interested in co-locating their solar PV or wind plants near these plants to utilise some of the infrastructure – particularly the grid connection. Beyond power generation, the sites could also become smart technology hubs. They could offer training centres to pass on the operational and maintenance skills required for these new technologies, in which Eskom so far has limited experience. They could also incorporate testing and research facilities into future fuel sources. The green power from this facility could be used to fuel a hydrogen production plant, and the hydrogen could be (initially) combined with natural gas to generate greener energy until such time where the technology is mature enough

to rely solely on hydrogen. These sites could benefit from co-location, co-creation and sharing assets among private and public companies and academia. Sourcing the gas for these power plants is naturally a critical element to consider but, thankfully, there are positive developments ongoing in this regard. Most of the Eskom power stations earmarked for repurposing are located near, or within reach of extensions to, the existing gas pipeline from the Pande and Temane fields in Mozambique. It has been well reported that these gas fields are nearing the end of their life, but there are plans under way to supplement that gas through liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports into the ports of either Maputo or Richards Bay. The final solution should emerge in the near future as either Mozambique starts to execute its LNG importation project or when South Africa’s gas-to-power programme accelerates. Some of the issues that need to be considered are that the environmental impact assessment and generation licence for each site will have to be reviewed and updated. These issues can be resolved relatively quickly, with the support of government departments including Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Trade and Industry, Mineral Resources and Energy, and Public Enterprises – all of which have an interest in finding a solution. The full backing of Eskom is also needed to make these projects a success; to date, Eskom has given positive signals in this regard. Eskom is understood to be preparing the first requests for proposal (RFPs) for the decommissioned power plants and these should be released in the next few months. *Wayne Glossop is the business development manager: Southern Africa and Tord Johnsson the GM: Strategic Relations & Business, South & East Africa, with Wärtsilä Energy.

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RENEWABLE ENERGY

Paving the way for

a more sustainable city

The City of Cape Town has become the first municipality in South Africa to own a floating power plant.

I

n its efforts to pave the way towards a more sustainable city, the City of Cape Town has installed a floating solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the Kraaifontein Wastewater Treatment Works. The City hopes the project will help to determine evaporation savings and energy generation per formance of floating solar farms. With the project, the City aims to achieve total renewable energy generation of 300 MW through both City-owned and private power generation. The floating solar farm is part of a research study involving private company Floating Solar, the Water Research Commission and the University of Cape Town. Data will be collected from sensors over a 12-month period to potentially inform the design of larger utilityscale floating solar PV projects over the next few years through competitive bid processes. The farm includes a floating solar panel array as well as a ground-mounted solar panel system to determine evaporation savings and relative energy generation per formance of floating solar PV technology.

The systems The floating system consists of: • a 3.51 kWp floating solar PV system: nine

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390 W peak (Wp) PV panels mounted on a floating solar island, with panels installed at a 12-degree tilt • two identical tanks (20 m in diameter) including a water supply system: one reser voir is covered by a floating solar PV system and the other is uncovered as a control • o ne reser voir is covered using the Hydrelio Air technology with a four-per-row configuration • water levels in each reser voir are monitored with a float switch – when the water level drops below a predetermined point, a pump will be turned on and water fed back into the reser voir • a three-phase inverter. The ground-mounted system consists of: • t wo land-based solar PV systems each with an installed capacity of 3.51 kWp: comprising nine 390 Wp solar PV panels at the same tilt as the floating solar PV system (12 degrees) and nine 390 Wp solar PV panels installed at the optimal South African tilt of 32 degrees • all instrumentation and equipment required for the experiment (ambient temperature and humidity sensor, pluviometry, solar irradiance sensor, data logger, wind speed and direction sensor)

• i nstruments installed on the solar PV panels (energy generation monitoring system and temperature sensor).

Future-fit city Phindile Maxiti, MMC: Energy and Climate Change, City of Cape Town, says the City has a target to achieve 300 MW of renewable energy generation by 2030, with 50 MW of this comprising City-owned solar PV plants. “The City has been fighting to move away from the sole reliance on Eskom and to diversify the energy mix for cleaner and more affordable and secure power for all,” she says. “In addition, given that vacant land in the city is very expensive and rooftop solar PV systems are relatively small, Cape Town aims to explore floating solar PV systems for larger-scale solar PV installations, as part of its pioneering work to diversify the energy mix, to lead by example and to take climate action leadership.” The project will not only look at the amount of energy that can be generated by floating panels, but will also investigate how much can be generated compared with the groundmounted panels. The other important pillar of the research will be to determine what impact the floats have on water evaporation.


RENEWABLE ENERGY

Floating Solar According to Floating Solar spokesperson Peter Varndell, floating solar has rapidly become the third pillar of the solar PV industry globally. “In following this trend, we have identified significant potential within South Africa for this promising technology, which has the dual benefit of producing power while reducing evaporation and preserving land for other commercial use,” he states. “From the outset, we have identified more than 60 high-potential projects – with a combined capacity of more than 450 MW – which will be well suited to benefit from floating solar development.” Varndell adds that South Africa’s approximately 1 000 water treatment works are a key target market. These are well suited for floating solar due to the significant demand for on-site power requiring a sustainable energy source, limited available land and water evaporation savings, as well as providing the opportunity to export additional power to the grid. “We are extremely pleased that Cape Town is enabling this pilot project to investigate this potential,” he concludes.


RENEWABLE ENERGY

A NEW PATH TO

POWER IN AFRICA

Africa currently sits on the cusp of a transition into a new energy paradigm – one in which technological and commercial innovations are delivering increasingly decentralised power to the people of the continent in new ways.

A

recent white paper released by global management consultancy company Kearney outlines the overarching strategic considerations for African utilities to forge a path to sustainability amid the backdrop of this global paradigm shift. Entitled A New Energy Path to Viability for African Utilities, the paper unpacks the broader macroeconomic trends that are shaping the transition. Kearney partner Igor Hulak explains the dual mandate shouldered by energy utilities in Africa, who play an integral role on the continent. “Availability of power is essential for economic growth and, even more importantly, for social development. Utilities must provide sufficient, affordable power for both these imperatives,” says Hulak. He adds that adequate electricity supply prefigures a nation’s overall economic development. Conversely, insufficient availability of power has been identified as a key obstacle facing African businesses, having been ranked first in sub-Saharan Africa ahead of other challenges like finance, informality, corruption and taxes.

Key drivers The three key drivers behind the transition to the so-called ‘new energy world’ are: • decarbonisation • decentralisation • digitalisation. These are also facilitating the historical trend of nations to liberalise their energy sectors as they grow and develop economically. In most African states, liberalisation has not yet begun in earnest, and integrated, state-controlled, monopolistic vertically integrated utilities (VIUs) are still responsible for all of the sector’s main functions: generation, transmission and distribution (or sales). Some states like South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Egypt are in the initial phase of liberalisation and have seen the emergence of independent power producers (IPPS) whose power and capacity are being sold to the VIU under long-term power-purchase agreements.

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Unbundling utilities “African leaders are strategically planning for the natural transition into the more organic market of the next liberalisation stage over the next years, in which parastatal VIUs are legally and functionally unbundled into separate entities for generation, transmission and sales,” Hulak remarks. “While European utilities unbundled largely from a position of strength, Africa’s embattled utilities face a ver y different reality. The many challenges in commercialising operations and managing an unbundled power network are daunting and complex. Unbundling won’t be an easy road, but we need to face the obstacles head on if we want to ensure a sustainable African power sector,” says Hulak.

Hulak notes that unbundling brings three significant benefits: transparency, competition, and the potential for private sector participation. The increased competition drives production efficiencies, as well as ser vices and collection. In the later phases, VIUs are fully unbundled and there is a vivid environment of private sector participation in both distribution and sales, giving rise to a healthy, competitive wholesale market. These hybrid business models have already been implemented in much of Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Because of the historical timing of liberalisation in Africa, African states stand to benefit from the advent of cost-competitive renewables and are embracing decarbonisation as they embark on their journeys towards liberalisation.


RENEWABLE ENERGY

“African utilities now have the chance to leapfrog many of the steps taken by other nations on the path towards liberalised energy supply,” explains Hulak. “Technological breakthroughs, economies of scale, stateincentivised decarbonisation, and a culture of innovation are seeing African power producers leverage the continent’s abundant wind and solar resources. Renewables are fast becoming a prime contributor to Africa’s energy mix.”

Drawing on lessons learnt Kearney’s white paper delves into pertinent African utility case studies on South Africa and Ghana, and looks at the lessons that can be drawn from their efforts thus far. It notes that several African VIUs, including Eskom, are beset with myriad difficulties arising from inadequate infrastructure maintenance. In monopolistic models, the lack of competition means that there is little incentive to improve efficiencies. “Many monopolistic VIUs in Africa are now commencing unbundling from a compromised position of over-reliance on government subsidies. In this archaic model, state-run VIUs are heavily subsidised with funds drawn from other, more profitable economic sectors. The artificially reduced household tariffs yielded by such systems bridge the affordability gap, but ultimately these models are unsustainable, and usually result in the utility’s indebtedness, especially when subsidies fluctuate with shifting government priorities,” Hulak explains. Several years ahead of most African states in the modernisation and development of its energy market and lauded as a power sector leader on the continent, Ghana has pioneered a path that other African VIUs can learn from as it modernises and develops its energy markets. Like several other African VIUs, Ghana also commenced unbundling from a weak position, amid a challenging socio-economic context. Initially, the sector was unbundled into separate generation and transmission utilities, with regulator y bodies created in parallel

for technical regulation and licensing, as well as economic regulation and tariff setting. This unbundling was an initial step for the later introduction of IPPs to the national energy mix and the establishment of a wholesale electricity market for bulk customers. Ever since, Ghana has continued along the path of reform and innovation in the power sector, including the attempt of introducing private-sector par ticipation in electricity distribution. Even though this initiative has not yet succeeded, it does not undermine the fundamental directional rightness of the course the countr y is pursuing.

Embracing the new energy world In summar y, Hulak notes that Africa’s traditional VIUs have the opportunity to embrace the new energy world rather than fight it – by leveraging their already existing expertise and resources to expand their product and ser vice portfolio in a customer-centric way. “Africa’s power sector can be fast-tracked into the new energy transition, with insights gleaned from other places where unbundling has already begun in earnest. The strategic dilemma for African governments now is whether to focus on impor ted technologies for decentralised solutions or to develop integrated networks. The latter path requires more time and investment, but would boost local economies,” he concludes.

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EVENTS

Upcoming EVENTS

Coming up in 2022

AFRICA ENERGY INDABA Venue: Virtual Conference Date: 1 to 2 March 2022 Website: africaenergyindaba.com The 14th Africa Energy Indaba Virtual Conference – taking place from 1 to 2 March 2022 – will discuss, debate and seek solutions to enable adequate energy generation across Africa. A diverse group of luminaries and high-profile speakers will share their real-world insights about the changing energy landscape in Africa. What will be discussed? • Explore what is needed to meet the rapidly growing need for energy access in Africa. • Learn more about the African market and prospective business opportunities in the energy space, regional integration, and the importance of African power pools. • Learn about disruptive business models, the need for innovative financing solutions, and the impact of Industry 4.0 in the energy sector. • Hear more about evolving grid technologies, renewable and cleaner energy, energy storage, and energy efficiency.

ENLIT AFRICA

WASTECON 2022

Venue: Online Date: 26 to 28 October 2021 Website: www.enlit-africa.com

Venue: Emperors Palace, Gauteng Date:18 to 20 October 2022 Website: iwmsa.co.za

Enlit Africa is an energy event unlike any other – because it is more than just an energy event! Enlit Africa is the leading platform that gathers Africa’s power, energy and water community for 365 days a year to meet and inspire each other via world-class content and valuable connections. That community came together for three days in a digital format on our AI-powered digital platform, Enlit Africa-Connect, from 26 to 28 October 2021, and will meet up live in Cape Town on 7 to 9 June 2022. Apart from our live and digital events, we deliver cutting-edge content through webinars, exclusive one-on-one interviews with the who’s who of the energy sector, compelling content from our host publication ESI Africa, product launches, technology showcases and much more.

The theme of our biennial conference and exhibition, currently planned to be held as a face-to-face event at Emperors’ Palace in Gauteng from 16 to 20 October 2022, will be ‘Back on Track? Perspectives on Waste and Circularity’. Emerging from a period where all aspects of normal daily life has been dominated by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the theme essentially encompasses a reality check on where we are now in respect of the state of waste management and circular economy, what we have done well or badly in the past, what we should continue to do well, and what we should do better or differently in the future.

INDEX TO ADVERTISERS Envitech Solutions

31

Pamdev NPC

CSIR IFC

G & W Base & Industrial Minerals

27

PETCO OFC

EIE Group

IWMSA 4

Plastics SA

KSB Pumps & Valves

Qobo Recycling

AKS Lining Systems

32

45

EnviroServ Waste Management

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20

IBC 42


Fit for purpose#all plastics_210x275mmP.pdf

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