Green April 2022 Edition

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APRIL 2022

Imagine a paint that could clean the air you breathe

TradePro Roof & More APEO free

BUILDING SUSTAINABLE ECOSYSTEMS INSIDE: Earth Day | Green Investment | Waste Management | Innovations in packaging

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ON THE COVER: IMAGE: Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

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Contents 16 4

FROM THE EDITOR While COP26 may not have gone far enough in its ambitions, it served as a cogent reminder that sustainability requires commitment and accountability.

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FOREWORD The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries writes that the country needs to move faster in implementing climate-resilient strategies to mitigate the risks of economic, social and ecosytem disasters.

10 INVESTMENT Find out how green investing supports business practices with a positive impact on the natural environment.

16 ARCHITECTURE A look at both the smart technologies and simple innovations that can make commercial and residential buildings more sustainable, plus a rundown of World Green Building Week.

20 HOME Employing nifty tech or greener options is an eco-friendly way to keep your home at optimal temperature and help take pressure off the national electricity grid.

39 29 RETAIL Extended producer responsibility is shifting the onus for disposing post-consumer products to producers and retailers, but is it doing enough?

36 OCEANS A third of fish stocks are now being fished at biologically unsustainable levels. Is seafood really sustainable?

39 PACKAGING With single-use plastics banned in many countries, we look at innovations in the packaging space, and whether or not South Africans can afford these.

45 ENERGY South Africa has the dirtiest power supply in the world, making our transition to clean energy a matter of global import.

48 THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: FORESTRY Sustainable forestry that aids important ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water resources, soil and biodiversity conservation.

KANSAITHE SUSTAINPLASCON A JOURNBE ILIT Y Y S 12

66 49 EARTH DAY Looking back at the history and achievements of a global movement more than half a decade old.

51 AGRICULTURE Cultivated meat could be the key to maintaining our carnivorous ways, plus the benefits of eating local avos.

55 PHARMACEUTICALS COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the pharmaceutical industry, which produces more emissions than automobile manufacturing.

56 POLLUTION The Vaal River sewage crisis, the Mpumalanga Deadly Air Case, and diverting organic waste from landfills.

63 THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: RECYCLING South Africa’s paper industry is staying ahead of the circular economy curve.

66 THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: WASTE How to turn a waste problem into an energy opportunity.

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26 REGULATION Regulations and mandatory climate-related financial reporting are pressuring organisations to take net-zero pledges seriously.

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F ROM T HE EDI T OR

ONGOING COMMITMENT NEEDED

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t the Glasgow Climate Change Conference, or COP26, in November last year, 120 world leaders gathered to revisit the climate pledges they’d made six years earlier under the Paris Agreement. While many feel that the conference didn’t go far enough in its ambitions, it served as a cogent reminder that sustainability requires ongoing commitment coupled with accountability. In this vein, we look into the role of climate-related financial reporting and regulations in enforcing net-zero pledges (page 26) and how extended producer responsibility (EPR) is shifting the onus of waste disposal onto retailers (page 29). Much of EPR relates to the sorts of materials used in packaging, which is seeing a number of green innovations (page 39), but can South Africans afford these (page 40)? Notably, COP26 saw the launch of the Just Energy Transition Partnership, a R131-billion deal to help South Africa transition to cleaner energy. This just underscores how important money is in supporting sustainability efforts, so we look at what comprises green investment on page 10. Smart money is also being spent on smart architectural innovations to make buildings more sustainable (page 16), and to help manage heat, light and energy at home (page 20).

WE NEED TO MAKE ONGOING COMMITMENTS TO REDUCING OUR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT, AND KEEP OURSELVES ACCOUNTABLE TO THESE.

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PUBLISHED BY

Picasso Headline, A proud division of Arena Holdings (Pty) Ltd Hill on Empire, 16 Empire Road (cnr Hillside Road), Parktown, Johannesburg, 2193 PO Box 12500, Mill Street, Cape Town, 8010 www.businessmediamags.co.za

EDITORIAL Editor: Anthony Sharpe Content Manager: Raina Julies rainaj@picasso.co.za Contributors: Trevor Crighton, Samantha Choles, Caryn Gootkin, Anél Lewis, Kim Maxwell, Nia Magoulianitini-McGregor, Denise Mhlanga, Itumeleng Mogaki, Jane Molony, Kate Stubbs, Tiisetso Tlelima, Lisa Witepski Copy Editor: Brenda Bryden Content Co-ordinator: Vanessa Payne DESIGN

One area that requires loads of investment is cellular agriculture, where a growing number of companies are working to bring prices for cultivated meat down enough to make it competitive (page 52). On that note, we look at the state of the world’s fish stocks (page 36) and why you should buy local avocados (page 51). Of course, this wouldn’t be a sustainability-minded magazine if we didn’t tackle the scourge of pollution. Check out what is being done to divert organic waste from landfills on page 58, the state of the Mpumalanga Deadly Air Case on page 57, and the tragedy of the sewage fouling up the Vaal River on page 56. And just remember that, although the fate of our global climate does very much depend on the decisions taken by world leaders at well-publicised conferences, it also depends on the decisions we all take every single day. Like those leaders, we need to make ongoing commitments to reducing our environmental impact, and keep ourselves accountable to these.

Anthony Sharpe

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Head of Design: Jayne Macé-Ferguson Senior Designer: Mfundo Archie Ndzo Advert Designer: Bulelwa Sotashe Cover Image: Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) SALES Project Manager: Gavin Payne gavinp@picasso.co.za | +27 21 469 2477 +27 74 031 9774 Sales: Corne Louw, Brian McKelvie, James Stone PRODUCTION Production Editor: Shamiela Brenner Advertising Co-ordinator: Johan Labuschagne Subscriptions and Distribution: Fatima Dramat, fatimad@picasso.co.za Printer: CTP Printers, Cape Town MANAGEMENT Management Accountant: Deidre Musha Business Manager: Lodewyk van der Walt General Manager, Magazines: Jocelyne Bayer

Copyright: Picasso Headline. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for unsolicited material. Green is published by Picasso Headline. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Picasso Headline. All advertisements/advertorials have been paid for and therefore do not carry any endorsement by the publisher.


Years

INDUSTRIAL EFFICIENCY IN SOUTH AFRICA

The NCPC-SA is a national industrial support programme that drives the transition of local industry towards a green economy Services and focus areas include industry and sector knowledge-sharing, company technical support; green skills development; and advocacy and awareness-raising. Since 2002, the NCPC-SA has: Advised and assessed over 1700 Saved almost 7

000 GWh of energy in industrial plants

Helped mitigate over 7 Trained over 6

companies

million tonnes of GHG emissions

500 professionals in resource and energy efficiency

2002 – 2022

THA 07-2022

The National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPC-SA) was established at the Joburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2002. Its success since then has made it a true legacy project of the summit.

Register and join the Industrial Efficiency Conference 25-26 May 2022 | CSIR Pretoria and Online Attendance is free, but registration is required

www.ncpc.co.za www.industrialefficiency.co.za ncpc@csir.co.za

the dtic Department: Trade, Industry and Competition REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

Funded by the dtic, hosted by the CSIR



F ORE WORD

BESIDES THE INTRODUCTION OF THE CARBON TAX, THE NATIONAL ADAPTATION STRATEGY HAS BEEN ADOPTED, AND WE ARE WORKING WITH MUNICIPALITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO MAINSTREAM CLIMATE RESILIENCE INTO MUNICIPAL PLANNING AND BUDGETING.

SOUTH AFRICA NEEDS TO

PICK UP THE PACE The country needs to move faster in implementing climate-resilient strategies to mitigate the risks of economic, social and ecosytem disaster, writes THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES

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nited Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres has described the climate emergency as the defining issue of our time, arguing that the shocks resulting from climate change not only damage the environment on which we depend, but also weaken our political, economic and social systems. Concern for the climate crisis is no longer confined to multilateral institutions or the nongovernmental sector. This year, the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risks Perception Survey identified climate action failure, extreme weather events, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse as the top three of the top ten global risks by severity over the next ten years. Government, in considering the climate risk in our own context, has identified two categories of risk to our economy and our society.

IMAGES: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

ECOSYSTEM UNDER THREAT The first category of risk is a physical one. Scientific evidence indicates that sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change and is warming at twice the global average rate. This means that the average temperature increase is already above two degrees in our region. Apart from temperature increases, climate change causes severe storms, drought, and

a rise in sea level. These pose risks to our food and water security, built environment and human and animal health.

LOW-CARBON ECONOMY AN IMPERATIVE The second category of risk is the transition risk – the global transition to a low-carbon economy has begun and will continue. Countries that are investing significantly in low-carbon technologies are seeking to protect their investments with a range of nontariff and border tax adjustments. Unless we join the technological transition taking place across the globe, our economy risks being left behind and could, in due course, face redundancy and/or noncompetitiveness of our exports in a trade environment that favours goods and services produced in a low-carbon environment. Our research indicates that this transition risk will affect major sectors of our economy, including energy, mining, agriculture, transport and manufacturing. South Africa’s National Development Plan commits to building a low-carbon economy and climate-resilient society by the middle of the century. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, we have a responsibility to respond to all three goals relating to temperature, financial and resilience targets. We must pursue policies to achieve these

goals and ensure that our approach reflects both progress and enhanced ambition. The Climate Bill was approved by Cabinet for submission to the National Assembly last year. We are working with seven sectors of our economy to set sectoral emission targets and the mechanisms to monitor compliance once low-emission pathways are defined. Besides the introduction of the carbon tax, the National Adaptation Strategy has been adopted, and we are working with municipalities across the country to mainstream climate resilience into municipal planning and budgeting. A central aspect of identifying transition pathways must be addressing the transitional processes facing workers and communities and how they will be an integral part of developing and benefitting from new industries and enterprises so that no one is left behind. Our Just Transition must be characterised by the active involvement of workers and communities, who will be impacted upon by the transition, in defining both the objectives and road map of the transition. Through the Presidential Climate Commission there is a focused drive on the Just Transition, particularly identifying pathways for all sectors and buy-in by all stakeholders. Regarding the donation made to South Africa of $8.5-billion from several developed countries on the sidelines of COP26 in 2021, it is clear that the pace and extent of decarbonisation in South Africa will be determined by the financial support available, recognising the socioeconomic challenges faced by South Africa. Perhaps most importantly, the funding offered will be used for targeted programmes of reskilling and upskilling, creating employment and providing other forms of support to ensure workers, women and youth are the major beneficiaries of our shift to a greener future. Negotiations on the investment plan and financing modalities reflected in the Political Declaration are expected to be finalised over the next six months. The negotiation team will provide regular progress updates to Cabinet, including the approval from Cabinet on the final negotiated outcome.

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A STRONG CASE FOR

GREEN INVESTMENT Profitable and good for the planet – green investment is a financial commitment to a sustainable future for us all, writes ANÉL LEWIS

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reen investment, the practice of financially supporting businesses’ practices with a positive impact on the environment, is no longer a nice-to-have. It is a “life-or-death situation”, says Misha Joshi, senior project manager of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, part of the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. “Risks to our economies and livelihoods will go unmitigated in the face of the fast-approaching climate change disaster. There is enough money to solve these environmental and social Misha Joshi challenges; it just needs to be redirected through innovative financial solutions to businesses that are solving them.” Although not as prolific as is seen internationally, responsible investment (RI) is a growth sector in South Africa, largely being driven by millennials intent on protecting the planet, says Giles Maynard, senior financial advisor and regional manager at Carrick Wealth. This means more capital is expected to flow towards environmental, social and governance (ESG) projects. Several of South Africa’s largest institutional investors already use ESG metrics in screening potential investments.

GREEN BONDS According to a report by the Stockholm Sustainable Finance Centre, South Africa has the most developed financial market and green bond market in Africa. As the country also has

“RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT IS A GROWTH SECTOR IN SOUTH AFRICA, LARGELY BEING DRIVEN BY MILLENNIALS INTENT ON PROTECTING THE PLANET.” – GILES MAYNARD 10

an opportunity to be the first coal-based economy in Southern Africa to make the transition to low carbon, green bonds will be vital in creating interest in investments with green Professor Evan Gilbert impacts, notes the Climate Bonds Initiative. The JSE’s green bonds are appropriate for institutional, professional and individual investors alike. Momentum Investments strategist Professor Evan Gilbert says green-related dimensions are being integrated into bonds being issued by traditional borrowers. Joshi says Nedbank has been the most frequent issuer with three bonds to date. She adds that one of the advantages of green bonds is their tight yields resulting from high demands. As of February 2022, the cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg’s bonds had coupon rates (the annual income an investor can receive) of over 10 per cent, and over 5 per cent for the majority of other green bonds on the JSE. Aside from the financial return, green bonds also allow issuers to tap into a deeper investment pool and diversify their investor bases, explains Joshi. “This means that they are more competitive than some traditional investments during times of crisis.”

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IN V ES T MEN T

EXCHANGE-TRADED NOTES AND FUNDS Joshi says FNB offers ESG-focused exchange-traded notes (commonly known as ETNs) or debt-based instruments that provide exposure for as little as R10. These are used to fund clean-energy and water-related companies, and those with low carbon emissions. Given the concentration of South Africa’s equity market and the low number of equities listed, there is limited scope for exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to be built exclusively on green principles, says Gilbert. He notes that green index funds, another version of ETFs, follow market capitalisation-based indices. Joshi says some ETFs have slightly higher management costs because of the due diligence required. “If the investee companies are smaller or more volatile, the fund will also need to rebalance its portfolio more frequently.”

FAST FACT

The global green bond market has grown from less than R764-billion in 2013 to cumulative issuances surpassing the R15-trillion milestone in 2020, which saw record-breaking issuances of R4.5-trillion despite the disruption of the pandemic. Of this, 20 per cent came from emerging markets. Source: Misha Joshi, Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

RISK AND RETURN

There is a misconception that the returns on green investment will not match those of traditional investments, says Melanie Janse van Vuuren, Investec’s group lead for climate and sustainable finance. “You don’t have to take a reduction in margins or profits. The reward may either be the same or it may be better. In addition, there is a big impact – with nonfinancial type indicators – that you need to try and monetise.” MUTUAL FUNDS Maynard argues that statistically in the past Gilbert reiterates that in the South African three to five years, ESG investments have equity market there is “very limited space” not performed nearly as well as traditional for a “pure” green equity unit trust. “What investments. “However, we are seeing that gap investment management companies have narrow and become almost insignificant on the done is build ESG and RI principles into their back of technology and the rise of renewable traditional decision-making processes.” He energies. In many cases, these green funds are adds that asset managers are also actively probably less risky than some other funds out engaging with the management teams of there,” he adds. companies on green-related issues. “The final Joshi adds that green investments’ financial innovation in this space is the introduction performance should not be of impact funds, which are the only consideration when unit trusts that have a very compared with traditional specific mandate.” This could assets. “Do above-average be to invest in renewable financial returns matter if we energy or to develop student cannot breathe clean air or housing. Gilbert says such retire in a stable society?” Also, funds are normally quite traditional financiers evaluate specialised in their focus and green opportunities using their ability to diversify risk, frameworks that do not consider so tend to be seen as an the environmental impact as part alternative asset rather than a Melanie Janse van Vuuren of their risk-reward assessment, core investment.

IMAGES: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM, SUPPLIED

GREENWASHING With the increasing focus on ESG investments comes the risk that companies will exaggerate or misrepresent their sustainability outcomes to attract funding. “There are a lot of ESG funds that are just ticking the green box,” says Giles Maynard, Carrick Wealth’s senior financial advisor and regional manager. The dearth of regulation in the ESG investment space makes it difficult to hold companies accountable to their ESG goals. Professor Evan Gilbert, strategist at Momentum Investments, says investors need to be aware of the following when considering a green investment. The ESG should be specific to the company’s context and strategy, with clarity on which issues are being tackled and how they affect its value chain. Also, if a portfolio is using any metrics for assessing its investment status on an ESG basis, these should be certified by an independent third party. Momentum Investments actively integrates ESG and other RI-related considerations into the portfolio management of both single- and multi-asset class solutions, says Gilbert. “We actively seek to avoid greenwashing on behalf of our clients by assessing the extent to which the ESG and other RI-related investment practices of investment managers match their rhetoric.”

she says. “We encourage a shift in mindset by reiterating that an impact (or green) investor sees opportunity where traditional financiers seek risk.”

CHALLENGES OF GREEN INVESTMENT Shaw Mabuto, ESG officer and partner at Spear Capital, says there is no standardised ESG rating or assessment tool that can substantiate a company’s claim to being green, so it’s often left to companies to disclose their green outcomes, or to investors to do their own due diligence. The Green Outcome Fund, a partnership between GreenCape, Shaw Mabuto the Bertha Centre and WWF South Africa, offers financial incentives to fund managers to adapt their investment criteria and support services to enable lending and investment into green small, micro and medium enterprises.

FUTURE-FORWARD Mabuto says that, with 40 per cent of venture capital and private equity firms working on improving ESG standards within their portfolios and more companies introducing ESG into their strategies, this sort of investment will continue to gain momentum. Green investment is becoming increasingly relevant as investors and corporates understand the interconnectedness of their actions with people and the planet, says Joshi. “The market is in its infancy, but is growing fast in tandem with related trends such as ESG reporting and sustainability initiatives. So it is not a question of if, but when the impact-investing train leaves the station.”

The Climate Bonds Initiative

This international organisation works to mobilise capital for climate action. Scan the QR code to learn more.

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A DV ER T ORI A L K A NS A I PL A S CON

THE FUTURE OF PAINT IS GREEN Responding to calls for increased efforts to combat climate change and take greater care of the environment, Plascon is making big changes to its operations and products to ensure future sustainability for all

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n the light of growing climate change concerns and youth eco-activists like Greta Thunberg calling us all to task, we are increasingly taking more and more meaningful steps to reduce our impact on the environment. This marked shift by no means excludes the very coatings we apply to the walls, roofs and surfaces of our homes, businesses, factories, machinery and modes of transport, and covers anything from the way these paints are manufactured to the substances they contain.

CONSCIOUS COATINGS With its leaps and bounds in green technology, Plascon is leading the charge with a phalanx of eco-wise coatings. The first of these innovations is the brand’s introduction of (alkylphenol ethoxylates) APEO-free formulations.

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K A NS A I PL A S CON A DV ER T ORI A L

APEO compounds are bio-accumulative compounds, which, when released into the environment, can be toxic to human and wildlife, especially marine life. Conventional roof paints contain APEOs that, over time, leach into waterways through rain and drainage, and eventually contaminate the soil, water tables, rivers and, ultimately, our oceans. APEOs that accumulate in water systems become toxic to aquatic organisms, and in large doses, APEOs can even disrupt hormonal systems in humans. By choosing to use APEO-free products, you are contributing to a safer, healthier and more sustainable planet. Plascon TradePro Roof & More is a product market leader that is entirely free of harmful APEO chemicals. It has thus become the default choice for conscious consumers. Water, although a reusable resource, still needs to be treated responsibly and conserved to avoid pollution and shortages. South Africa is among the most water-scarce countries in the world, and one way to use water more responsibly – and save more money on your monthly municipal bill – is to harvest rainwater from roofs. Since Plascon TradePro Roof & More is APEO-free, it is safe for the harvesting of rainwater for nonpotable use.

REDUCING PLASTIC Another big threat to environmental conservation is the plastic pandemic. The mass production of plastics began six decades ago. Since then, the industry has produced 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic, of which an estimated 90 per cent is not recycled, with approximately 8 million tonnes ending up in oceans annually. Given the excessive life expectancy of plastic products, almost every piece of plastic created and sent to a landfill or dumped in the environment is still in existence. This puts an immense strain on the environment and its inhabitants, increasing the urgency to reduce plastic consumption and waste, as well as to find sustainable ways to recycle existing plastic products. To honour this call, Plascon has introduced black buckets, which are made of up to 70 per cent upcycled material, to its premium range. Upcycling is a means by which we can reduce the amount of solid waste entering landfills and polluting the environment. The materials of old paint buckets are harvested to produce new ones of equal quality with a lower manufacturing impact. Through this process, we can reduce carbon emissions by extending the shelf life of used materials, thereby reducing the energy and natural resources needed

Plascon has introduced black buckets, which are made of up to 70 per cent upcycled material, to its premium range. WATER-WISE

for new materials to be created. By upcycling, we not only stop more long-wearing pollutants entering landfills, but also reduce our environmental footprint, having saved the cost of manufacturing, packaging and transporting new materials. These upcycled buckets provide the same structural integrity and lend a new air of distinction to the Plascon premium range, which includes Plascon Micatex, Double Velvet Pure, Cashmere, Velvaglo Water-Based, Nuroof Cool and Wall & All. The move brings consumers the renowned and trusted quality of these brands along with the peace of mind knowing that they’re making the most responsible choice for the environment.

ABOUT PLASCON Plascon has been leading the way in the coatings business since 1889 and has repeatedly set new benchmarks by reimagining and reinventing trustworthy products that will make people’s lives easier and better, without compromising on quality. Plascon continues to innovate, with a focus on developing pioneering products while being conscious of their environmental impact. With an extensive range of high performance decorative, automotive, industrial and professional coatings, Plascon is set to continue as as a leading South African coatings company.

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Much of environmental conservation and ethical practice involves correcting ingrained perceptions and innovating so that the same quality can be provided while reducing environmental impact. It used to be that solvent-based paints were the preferred choice in coatings, favoured for their perceived durability, especially in enamel paints. But these solvents can be more demanding in terms of application, cleaning and disposal and, most importantly, they are more harmful to the environment. There has been a global shift toward water-based products, which offer equal, if not better, quality with added benefits. These perks include faster drying times, lower associated costs and minimal impact on the environment and the health and wellbeing of consumers. Plascon Velvaglo Water-Based Enamel is just one product in the extensive range of water-based products offered by Plascon. A market leader in water-based alternatives, Plascon Velvaglo Water-Based Enamel is prized for its superior strength, satin finish and versatility. Formulated with a unique water-based acrylic hybrid called AquatoughTM, Plascon Velvaglo Water-Based Enamel offers all the toughness of a solvent-based enamel. This includes UV, flaking and stain resistance, with nondrip properties, while remaining environmentally friendly and nontoxic.

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A DV ER T ORI A L K A NS A I PL A S CON

DID YOU KNOW?

Green is not just a colour to us. We are actively committed to implementing environmentally considerate practices in every aspect of our business. Striving to inspire more ecological considerate decisions, we have responded to the challenge by innovating unparalleled sustainable solutions based on three key pillars of compliance, sustainability, and products. We’ve successfully implemented Environmental Management Systems in each of our South African manufacturing plants and attained ISO 1 4001 certification at all of them. We continue to develop and implement groundbreaking environmental processes to ensure that our future remains sustainable.

CUTTING OUT VOCs Of particular concern with conventional solvent-based products, is the associated risk of VOC emission. This has become a major societal concern with VOC pollution on the rise. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are chemicals emitted from production processes and common household items. These chemicals accumulate in the air and can have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. In an effort to combat this threat, Plascon has optimised the formulations of their premium brands, which now all boast zero-VOC recipes. This means that there are no VOC emissions when using these products, thereby protecting the environment as well as your home and your family. But Plascon didn’t stop there. Not only have they removed VOCs from their premium products, but they’ve also further engineered them to remove VOCs from the air too.

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One VOC in particular, known as formaldehyde, presents a growing cause for concern. Emitted from common household items, such as upholstery, carpeting and household cleaning agents, formaldehyde has the potential to pollute the air and compromise our health.

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K A NS A I PL A S CON A DV ER T ORI A L

as well as its existing leading technologies such as the Stain BarrierTM to make cleaning away life’s messier moments a breeze; Silver ProtectTM to inhibit mould and bacterial growth; and BreatheasyTM to minimise odour and ensure cleaner, breathable air. Plascon continues to innovate, with a focus on developing pioneering products while being conscious of their environmental impact. These changes affirm Plascon’s re-orientation and refreshed commitment to focus on people and purpose.

➔ Scan this QR code to go directly to the plascon website.

For more information: www.plascon.com

IMAGES: SUPPLIED

ENSURING PURE AIR In 2020, Plascon introduced a paint with Air Purifying Technology. Plascon Double Velvet Pure has the ability to actively improve the quality of indoor air by removing formaldehyde from the air that you breathe, making your home and workspace a safer environment

for you, your co-workers and family. A special compound in the formula removes and permanently transforms the formaldehyde in the air into undetectable, harmless water vapour, which is safe for breathing. The reengineered product retains all of its premium quality, strength and elegance

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The Ridge Building at the V&A Waterfront received a 6-star Green Star rating for sustainable features in November 2020. A prime feature is mixed-mode ventilation, so a thermally active building system monitors thermal comfort and fresh air rates to signal building occupants to open or close windows.

WHERE SMART

MEETS GREEN There is growing local and global awareness that green buildings should be designed sustainably and constructed with optimised operational efficiency while using smart technologies. KIM MAXWELL finds out more

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n array of smart technologies is being used in more South African corporate businesses and some larger residential complexes to make performance and operation greener, many drawing from the adage that “what is measured is managed”. Georgina Smit, Green Building Council of South Africa’s (GBCSA) head of technical, says that not only new builds are benefitting. “With the general economic slowdown, more property owners have focused on improving, refurbishing and repurposing existing assets. Incorporating smart green building features such as energy- and water-efficiency devices and monitoring systems can dramatically improve building operations. These also often have very short payback periods.” Having visual data about the amount of electricity or water being used in a building, or air quality within a space, allows for remedial action. Carbon dioxide sensors within a stuffy room, for example, can respond to high levels with an alert that necessitates flushing with fresh air, improving employee productivity. Smart technologies can even allow remote action by adjusting the HVAC, for example, or controlling windows via a tablet integrated with an app. Georgina Smit Buildings with a solar photovoltaic (PV) installation to generate renewable energy can monitor the system via an app to measure how much solar power is being generated, in turn calculating the associated carbon emissions from electricity usage for the building.

FAST FACT

Although no formal statistics are recorded for green building products in South Africa, the building and construction materials market is estimated at R15.3-billion per annum, with 60 per cent sold direct to end-users and 40 per cent via the distribution/ merchant network. Of this total, 18 per cent worth of materials are used in the additions, alterations and home improvement market. Source: International Trade Administration, US Department of Commerce

“Companies have been ticking boxes for the last decade,” says Kevin James, CEO of Global Carbon Exchange (GCX), an environmental, social and governance (ESG) and environmental sustainability company that provides corporates and large organisations with tools to set and track their sustainability targets. “This has generally included doing their carbon-footprint disclosure, getting an ESG rating for performance from rating agencies (a determination of the risk level for ESG issues), and writing an elaborate ESG or integrated report. A big trend over the past two years has been financial institutions issuing green and ESG-linked loans to big corporates.” Corporates, in turn, have been playing catch-up by investing in and recruiting ESG professionals to help navigate this complex space.

“A BIG TREND OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS HAS BEEN FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ISSUING GREEN AND ESG-LINKED LOANS TO BIG CORPORATES.” – KEVIN JAMES 16

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A RCHI T EC T URE

LOCAL: THE 2022 THEME IS RE-GENERATION The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) will host its 15th annual Green Building Convention in Cape Town from 2–4 November 2022. The built environment has a responsibility and an opportunity to shift to building holistic, data-driven and renewal-focused spaces and places, says GBCSA CEO Lisa Reynolds. She says RE-Generation is aimed at “shifting years” and focuses on the regeneration needed in the built environment in this decade of accelerated climate action. It’s about building a RE-Generation of people who move beyond sustainability to building regeneratively to transform the built environment for people and the planet to thrive.

Solid Green Consulting was brought in to help achieve a GBCSA 6-star Green Star rating at the lifestyle centre of Balwin’s Green Lee apartments in Linbro Park, Sandton.

NET-ZERO CARBON ROAD MAP James says that once GCX has the necessary data, they work with clients to develop a net-zero carbon road map. “It’s about carbon reduction, so if a company emits 100 tonnes through its operations, what can we do to get to zero with those buildings? “We figure out, at an asset level, what’s possible to be able to model an entire portfolio of buildings for a corporate by an agreed percentage. So, for example, we’ll look at an energy-management programme to increase efficiency, at how much rooftop solar can be installed, and what the percentage reduction would be in the building portfolio, plus the related return on investment.” Once individual assets have been assessed, James says the next big thing is energy wheeling through the Eskom grid. “There’s a power purchase agreement (offtake) with a large-scale solar PV or wind energy plant. The renewable energy facility needs an offtake for its electricity, and then we help to facilitate a large-scale supply of renewable energy to our corporate clients through the Eskom grid.”

SMART INTERVENTIONS, NOT JUST SMART TECHNOLOGY Companies such as Solid Green Consulting work across the built environment, with the design teams

managers to optimise the performance of their buildings.” Reinink believes there is a misconception that green buildings are “full of smart technologies” or that these are required for a building to be considered green. It’s really much simpler. “The basic ingredient of a green building is good design: insulation; glazing specification; orientation and so forth.” Thereafter, smart technology can be used to improve performance and interact with a building in a smarter way. Smart metering is one example: a meter can be installed in the building and the consumption read via a phone or remote display, for instance. “This can really assist in creating awareness and picking up issues when they arise,” Reinink says. “For example, we installed smart meters on the air-conditioning system in a small office building and linked them to a screen in the lobby area. On Monday morning, an office worker comes in, sees the screen and notices that the air conditioning was on all weekend. The facilities manager is contacted to attend to the problem. Without that technology, you would only ›

STRIVING FOR NET ZERO Many South African corporates and mall owners are chasing net-zero ratings, a technical focus for new builds and existing buildings, to ensure that they operate with a net-zero carbon/ water/waste or net positive impact. More than just energy efficiency, they’re aiming for an endpoint of completely neutralising or positively redressing their impact. The GBCSA currently has 25 projects that have achieved net-zero or net-positive status. Source: Green Building Council of South Africa

drawn in to develop new green corporate and residential buildings, as well as retrofits and interior fit-outs. They partner with facilities management teams to assist with enhancing building operations and maintenance to improve performance in terms of energy/ water/waste efficiency. The company also works on large-scale projects to improve the sustainability of precincts. Director Marloes Reinink says they’ve seen the greatest savings for clients where the facilities team is given full insight into the consumption patterns of the building to enable them to develop an understanding of how they can influence and improve it. “Smart metering and user-friendly displays make a huge improvement in capacitating building

“THE BASIC INGREDIENT OF A GREEN BUILDING IS GOOD DESIGN: INSULATION; GLAZING SPECIFICATION; ORIENTATION AND SO FORTH.” – MARLOES REININK Marloes Reinink

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TARGETS AND MILESTONES James says GCX provides its corporate clients with the confidence to set and track the kind of targets and milestones to become leaders in ESG. He believes that many corporates will struggle to operate if their ESG performance is not taken seriously in the next five years. As World Green Building Council CEO Christina Gamboa notes in the World Green Building Trends 2021 report, sustainability is one of the biggest business opportunities of this decade. However, there increasingly needs to be transparency and disclosure around everything the building industry does.

SMART AND SUSTAINABLE AN ABSOLUTE MUST The World Green Building Council launched the Africa Regional Network Advocacy Manifesto in October 2021. In 2019, in Africa, buildings accounted for 57 per cent of total final energy consumption and 32 per cent of total process-related CO2 emissions. By 2050, Africa will be home to 1.3 billion more people, with more than 80 per cent of growth occurring in cities, especially informal settlements. It’s why the role of a smart, sustainable built environment for everyone everywhere is crucial. The World Green Building Council African Regional Network is working with governments, regions, cities and across industry and civil society to implement a smart, sustainable built environment vision. Source: World Green Building Council

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DID YOU KNOW?

In a survey to assess the impact of new green buildings on operating costs, South Africa ranked among the top countries to show savings on expected operating costs (19.6 per cent) within the first five-year period of operation. Source: World Green Building Trends 2021

Gamboa offers this checklist. • Is your company aligned with sustainable development goals and working on your corporate, science-based target goals? • Treat carbon accounting the same way you treat your financial accounting. Know your entire footprint and what you can do about it. • What you design today has to be a high-performance building in the future because those buildings will be around for 50–100 years. If you’re designing without thinking of climate changes or future-proofing your assets, you will be left with stranded assets and risky buildings.

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pick up the issue when the next energy bill was due.” Another smart tech example is operable windows linked to a weather station. Often in South Africa, opening windows to allow fresh air and airflow into an office environment works fine. So Solid Green might introduce smart technology that picks up a “comfortable” outside temperature of 20°C, switching off the air-conditioning system and automatically opening the windows. When the temperature rises beyond a certain point, it will shut the windows and switch on the air conditioning again. This can save a lot of energy.

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GREEN, CLEAN AND SMART Managing your energy usage by investing in smarter technology or greener options is the eco-friendly way to make a difference to your budget, comfort and carbon footprint. By NIA MAGOULIANITI-MCGREGOR

GEOTHERMAL ENERGY Geothermal heat pump technology for residential use is a new industry still in its infancy in South Africa, says eco-architect Das Lyon. It’s an efficient, environmentally friendly and effective means of heating and cooling your home using piping loops underground. It pulls heat out of the room, stores it underground in horizontal or vertical tubing in summer and then pipes it back in winter or when temperatures drop, exchanging heat with the earth through heat exchange rather than with the air. “It’s a real cost-saver,” says Lyon. Some statistics show this method can save 25–50 per cent in electricity usage compared to more conventional heating or cooling systems. But installation is expensive, especially if the soil type is hard or there are rock formations underground in your area. Still, even though it will pay for itself over a few seasons, “it’s not all that easy in urban areas if space is tight, but it is great for new builds,” says Lyon. Other advantages include that it’s especially effective in humid areas and is quiet.

SMART, ENERGY-EFFICIENT WINDOWS Transparent glass panes that tint in sunlight and also act as solar panels, reducing air-conditioning usage while also generating electricity? That’s pretty smart. These rely on thermochromic materials, which means that heat changes the arrangement of their molecules so that the glass glass darkens and blocks glare. Lyons says these windows can save up to 18 per cent in annual energy use. Glass can become a one-way mirror on activation, he says, making blinds and curtains unnecessary. Sadly, it’s not widely available in South Africa except by courtesy of international companies, so the cost outlay is substantial.

FAST FACT

During peak periods in South Africa, the residential sector can account for up to 35 per cent of national electricity demand. Source: SANEDI’s 2021 Residential Electricity Consumer Consumption report

But there is a more cost-effective alternative. As buildings lose up to 40 per cent of heating and cooling energy through windows and doors, says PG Building Glass technical manager Clive Engelbrecht, using double glazing embedded with a “microscopically thin transparent metallic coating will reduce energy costs of cooling or heating a space throughout the year. Double glazing has a 68 per cent better insulation value when compared to ordinary clear single glazing.”

VERY APPY “Considering that a large portion of the average household’s energy consumption goes towards heating your geyser, it might be worth looking at smarter ways to heat your water,” says Christy Borman of the Green Building Council of South Africa. Dean Brown from SolarAdvice says an app linked to a geyser-wise device – “one example is the CBI Home App, but there are many on the market” – means you can control your geyser remotely. Track the temperature of your geyser, switch it on or off, and even tie it into your solar installation so that you switch on your washing machine when the battery is charged and no one is home so there is no wastage of solar power, for example.

“USING DOUBLE GLAZING EMBEDDED WITH A MICROSCOPICALLY THIN TRANSPARENT METALLIC COATING WILL REDUCE ENERGY COSTS OF COOLING OR HEATING A SPACE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.” – CLIVE ENGELBRECHT 20

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HOME

WHEN DESIGNING AN EDGE-COMPLIANT BUILDING, HOLLOW-CORE PRECAST SLABS ARE USED RATHER THAN SOLID CONCRETE FOR FLOOR CONSTRUCTION. THIS MEANS LESS MATERIAL AND SAVINGS IN TRANSPORTATION COSTS. “The app enables the user to configure these devices to react to current, voltage, time, power and many other variables and combinations thereof,” says Brown. “It can also be used to control pool pumps and lights remotely.” Paige Collinson from home appliance company Candy SA says it’s now possible for an app to give you a comprehensive report on your appliances’ performance and energy usage. “For example, some washing machines can detect if you’re running the incorrect cycle for that particular load of washing and will suggest the appropriate cycle to save water and electricity.”

SMART INSULATION There are a couple of insulation options to manage heat flow, including expanding spray foam that hardens to become insulation. “Filling up a ceiling with foam makes it airtight so there is no escape of energy through cracks,” says Lyon. It’s been shown to reduce loss of heating and cooling energy by 50 per cent. It’s also used around doors and windows to fill gaps and prevent air from blowing in. It has its place in resolving certain scenarios, says Lyon, but the foam is a two-part chemical reaction that some consumers don’t find appealing. Carla Fitti of Thermguard says another option is cellulose fibre insulation (CFI), “basically recycled newsprint, which is 100 per cent biodegradable”. After installation, any leftovers can be swept into the garden and nothing needs to go to a landfill. It contains no toxins or chemical binders. CFI is very effective and enhanced by a

harmless salt additive to make it fire-retardant. It is both insect- and rodent-repellent. It’s blown in and can get into corners that other products may not reach.” She says it uses 10 times less energy to manufacture than glass fibre insulation and 14 times less energy to manufacture than polyester insulation, so is truly eco-friendly.

SUSTAINABLE BUILDING MATERIALS “It’s a balancing act,” says Yvonne Pelser, owner of Inside Out Consulting. Pelser consults to the Transcend Residential Property Fund, which is retrofitting its existing buildings to achieve Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) green building certification. This means a building has been built sustainably and achieves water and energy savings. “The embodied energy of a building is about the way it is built. In short, it’s a calculation of all the energy required to extract materials and any processing required to create the final building product.” So while cement used in concrete can often be seen as not environmentally friendly and is energy-intensive to make, she says, “concrete is reinforced with thick steel bars giving it a long life cycle and requires little maintenance, which needs to be taken into consideration when measuring sustainability”. When designing an EDGE-compliant building, hollow-core precast slabs are used rather than solid concrete for floor construction. This means less material and savings in transportation costs.

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THE HUMAN FACTOR The energy sector accounts for 73 per cent of human-caused greenhouse gases. And even in Germany – a leading country in renewables – almost 90 per cent of all suitable roofs still have no solar installation. German social psychologist Harald Welzer said recently he believes that people need a “primary benefit” to act – the change must be simple, convenient, better than before, and ideally save time and money as well. “Only if there is such a primary benefit do most people change their behaviour.” Welzer says protecting the climate in itself does not “trigger behavioural change”.

DID YOU KNOW?

• Switching to a low-flow, energy- and water-efficient aerated showerhead will use up to 40 per cent less hot water. To test your showerhead, hold a bucket under the shower spray for 12 seconds. If you collect more than two litres, it should be replaced. • Installing a solar water heater will save between 25 and 50 per cent on your monthly electricity costs. Source: City of Cape Town https:// savingelectricity.org.za/saving-tips/

It’s complicated. “Aluminium windows require more energy to produce compared to steel windows, but they seal better and therefore lose less heat,” says Pelser. “Also, less maintenance is needed, which makes them a better product.” As Lyon says: “Sometimes it’s about weighing up the lesser of two evils. Something locally sourced may mitigate its other drawbacks.” Denise Lundall of the South African National Energy Development Institute agrees that light is the way to go. “While darker greys and brown colours are becoming increasingly fashionable, the colour of your roof paint greatly impacts its solar reflective index. White, light, and pastel colours are most effective at cooling your home. Darker colours absorb heat. She says adding a heat-reflective membrane onto the roof will passively cool the building, saving electricity by mitigating the need for fans or air conditioners. Another option is a green roof, says Pelser, where a garden is constructed above the roof, as long as leakage is prevented. Lyon says this is easy to do, but waterproofing and clean water collection can be an issue. “You’re replacing plants that were removed for the build, attracting bees and insects, and absorbing sun radiation. It modulates temperature and reduces energy costs. It’s cooling and pretty too.”

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TRANSITIONING TO A NATURE-BASED AND GREEN FUTURE IS EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY There can be no doubt that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. In recognising the magnitude of the climate crisis, it is important to note that governments do not have all the answers. It is, therefore, important for everyone to recognise that all people have a role to play in addressing the challenges being faced, and in implementing the solutions and opportunities posed. Government, business, civil society and individuals need to come together in partnership and collaboration to jointly address climate change. The severity of the climate crisis cannot be ignored, especially in light of the two comprehensive reviews of the latest science contained in the International Panel on Climate Change’s 6th Assessment Report on the science of climate change. In the IPCC report released in 2021, it is clear that Africa and South Africa are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and climate-related droughts and extreme weather events experienced nationally in the last year confirm this. This report had warned that global warming of 1.5oC would result in additional severe weather impacts and increase risks to society. The warnings are distinct - that these events will dramatically increase in intensity with further global warming. Most African countries are already seeing the effects of climate change in weather patterns and events such as tropical cyclones, droughts and floods. In February this year, the IPCC released the second part of its report entitled Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability stating that human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruptions in nature, and that this is affecting billions of people despite efforts to reduce the risks. Inaction, the report states, will not only effect the wellbeing of people, but also the environment. It calls for accelerated

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The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Ms. Barbara Creecy

action to adapt to climate change alongside taking serious steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions. South Africa has been experiencing significant effects of climate change, especially as a result of increased temperatures and rainfall variability. This is evident from prolonged droughts and increased flooding. Climate change also poses threats to water resources, food security, health, infrastructure, ecosystem services and biodiversity and other sectors of the economy. Adaption to climate change will ensure that food production is not threatened, infrastructure is resilient and enable continued sustainable economic development. Internationally and domestically, South Africa continues to play a progressive role in addressing climate change. This includes participation in the multilateral climate change negotiations under the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and its Paris Agreement. The UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow in 2021 dealt with no less than 19 finance-related agenda items

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culminating in a host of both procedural and substantive decisions, including 3 cover decisions known as the Glasgow Climate Pact. The Pact calls on the global community to do the following: • Accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies, and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems • Rapidly scale up the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures • Accelerate efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and to • Provide targeted support to the poorest and most vulnerable in line with national circumstances and recognizing the need for support towards a just transition The government’s efforts to address the effects of climate change on citizens and the economy received a firm nod from Cabinet in 2021 with the approval of the country’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution, deposited with the UNFCCC. The NDC affirms the economic opportunities offered to South Africa by a low-carbon development pathway, given the country’s endowment of natural resources, including wind, sun and minerals key to the global green economy, and also emphasises the importance of a Just Transition – addressing South Africa’s development challenges, ensuring that there is a smooth and prosperous transition for workers and communities from the current coalbased economy to the future zero-carbon economy, and making maximum use of economic opportunities, including green industrialisation. The NDC also addressed the importance of adequate international support for this Just Transition. South Africa’s ambition in the context of a Just Transition involves pursuing development goals in the process of cutting emissions and building resilience, expanding employment and building a skills

base and managing adjustment processes. Transitioning to a lower-carbon economy will undoubtedly require extensive policy, legal, technology, and market changes to address mitigation and adaptation requirements related to climate change. Significant long-term financial resources, at concessional rates, will be needed to introduce new technologies and open up significant new job creation opportunities so that the country can joins others who are benefitting from the green technological transition across the world. A number of initiatives have been identified for implementation to promote the greening of the South African economy, as highlighted in the draft Financing a Sustainable Economy Technical Paper 2020-2022 released by National Treasury. These include: • Putting a price on carbon, via the carbon tax, and the publishing of offset regulations to enable a reduction of those taxes through climate-positive investments. • Fiscal allocations, such as those for risk mitigation and job creation projects such as Working for Water and Working on Fire which directly combat the effects of climate change and help build our resilience to events such as wildfires. • Draft regulations for carbon offsetting. • Incentivising the sale of vehicles with lower carbon emissions during their operating phase. A key development in this regard in the automotive sector is the announcement by Toyota SA that their eThekwini plant will begin the assembly of a new hybrid model in the fourth quarter of this year. Investment in the green economy and green technologies provides strategic advantages for our country and continent. It opens access to new green financing opportunities; it offers the possibility of significant proven job creation; it has potential to localise production and services which will build small and medium enterprises and of course it enhances our long-term competitiveness while mitigating our transition risks. At the end of 2021, South Africa welcomed the historic Just Transition Partnership established by South Africa with France, Germany, the UK, the United States and the

Call centre: +27 86 111 2468 Website: www.dffe.gov.za

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European Union at COP26 in Glascow. The offer of the partnership to mobilise R131 billion over the next three to five years to support South Africa’s Just Transition plans is in line with the commitment by developed countries under the Paris Agreement to support developing countries’ climate actions, including those of South Africa. An Inter-Ministerial Committee set up by President Ramaphosa is coordinating further work on the country’s Just Transition plan and on the financial offers made to South Africa in the context of the partnership. In 2021, the important step was taken to form the Presidential Climate Commission bringing together government, the private sector, organised labour and civil society under one umbrella to research just transition pathways to ensure the country’s conversion to a lower carbon economy. This Commission is developing a clear plan to take us from an aspirational commitment to a lowcarbon, climate resilient economy and society to the reality of new technology, new investment and above all new jobs. The Presidential Climate Commission is also leveraging partnerships and collaboration across all relevant sectors to implement programmes that encapsulate the just transition in a coherent and coordinated manner. As South Africa responds to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Green Stimulus recovery programme, which entails protecting natural resources while contributing to equitable economic growth, has become more important. Government’s investment of R2.2 billion in biodiversity infrastructure across the bioprospecting, wildlife and ecotourism streams, will create at least 48 982 work opportunities, especially for women and youth. Of the 165 biodiversity economy infrastructure projects approved, 50 are to be activated in the 2022/23 financial year. Because this sector does not have adequate environmental fiscal measures, the DFFE is working with the National Treasury to look at a mix of measures specifically directed at the sector. This includes innovative finance mechanisms, and measures that can lead to generate additional resource for the biodiversity sector and enhance effectiveness and efficiency in the use of existing funding resources. An Intergovernmental Task Team has also been established to coordinate the work on the Rationalisation of Protected Areas with the aim of Reimagining Conservation Areas in Support of the New Deal for People and Nature. The scope of this work has been

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expanded to include resource mobilisation for protected areas and enhanced partnerships to unlock protected areas potential, as these are seen as critical components of rural development and a potential driver of transformation in the context of the District Delivery Model. With regard to legislative and policy development, the Climate Change Bill will be finalised by Parliament this year providing for a coordinated and integrated response by the economy and society to climate change and its impacts. This Bill provides a legal instrument towards the implementation of the National Climate Change Response Policy allowing for alignment of policies and providing a transitional arrangement for South Africa’s move towards a lower carbon and climate resilient economy. Many of the country’s trading partners have adopted mid-century commitment to net zero, with many of the major economies also

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moving in this direction. These are leading to various forms of climate-related non-tariff barriers and border adjustment taxes. There is growing consumer sentiment, and particularly younger consumers are demanding more environmentally friendly products and services, thus resulting in many of our exports at risk, mineral, automotive or agricultural. However, with the challenges also come opportunities. These are opportunities which present themselves in sectors such as energy and energy efficiency, the automotive sector, the hydrogen economy, the mining sector with new minerals that will power the green economy, as well as the banking and financial sectors. Climate-related opportunities are unnumerable. An example is the contribution of the waste sector to the South African economy, and job creation. The waste sector with an annual resource value of R25.2 billion, contributes to the rapid growth of Circular Economy, with just a little under 1% to the National Gross Domestic Output, and employing over 170 000 individuals. Alongside this, the National Waste Management Strategy, 2020, is helping with the waste diversion of 21% (22,6 million tonnes) from the landfill sites across the country. Evidence shows that that waste pickers help Municipalities to minimise the costs of collecting and managing waste across the country. As part of contributing to a cleaner South Africa, over 60 000 waste pickers are part of the informal waste picking sector and are being integrated into municipal waste management systems that are collaborating with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes. This transitioning would entail waste pickers being compensated financially over and above the money they earn from selling the recyclables as part of their collection of EPRcontrolled waste products by November 2022. This integration and transitioning of the informal waste sector are part of improving the working conditions and livelihoods of the informal waste sector.

and lighting sectors. This year, the scope of products is being broadened to include pesticides, lubricant oils and batteries. The focus this will also be on the implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility schemes for packaging products. Packaging SA’s Report on Packaging Material Collected for Recycling 2015 – 2019, showed that 42.1% of plastic put onto the South African market was collected for either recycling, export, reprocessing, energy recovery or any other conversion process employed as an alternative to direct disposal to landfill. Plastic is the key focus area in terms of managing pollution. One of the measures introduced has been the setting of new requirements for plastic carrier bags, which now require all to contain 50% recycled content from 2023, increasing to 100% by 2027. Earlier this year, South Africa joined member states at the second session of the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly in adopting a decision to curb plastic pollution and for the development of an internationally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. The resolution represents an important landmark to protect the environment, and particularly the oceans that are important for food security, addressing climate change, improving the health of our people and promoting sustainable development and poverty eradication. Through the adoption of Pact, South Africa recognises the need to ensure that the transition for plastic packaging is Just and that the circumstances of the domestic plastic industry remain key because of their close links with the food industry. As the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic and builds a new, green economy, waste management has been identified as one of the sectors that can contribute to job creation, thereby responding to the aspirations contained in the National Development Plan, to provide a quality life for all. In an age where citizens are looking to government to lead the way in ensuring economic growth as the country transitions to nature-based future, there is a need to point out that it is also the responsibility of all people to protect the environment in which they live

The Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes, as mentioned, are linked to the management of waste post the consumer stage of a product’s life cycle and encourage, and enable, the implementation of Circular Economy initiatives. Extended Producer Responsibility plans are being implemented for the paper and packaging, electrical and electronic equipment

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TAKING NET ZERO SERIOUSLY Mandatory climate-related financial reporting is being introduced to force organisations to take net-zero pledges seriously. CARYN GOOTKIN looks at the global picture, the influence of such reporting on company activities, and local pressure for transparency

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et-zero pledges (NZPs) and promises to reduce carbon emissions abound. Now, global regulators are making climate-related financial reporting (CRFR) mandatory in many countries worldwide. “NZPs should include all greenhouse gas emissions resulting from financing activities like lending or investing,” says Tanya Dos Santos, global head of sustainability at Investec. “By extending finance to high-emitting businesses, the financier helps the business operate and thereby emit carbon, which has an associated cost – environmental, social or both. Financial institutions should support and partner with those businesses towards achieving carbon neutrality.” Businesses can offset unavoidable Scope 1 (direct),

Scope 2 (energy usage) and upstream Scope 3 emissions (business travel), but do not have direct control over downstream Scope 3 emissions (lending and investing). “Due to the nature of carbon accounting, a percentage of Scope 1 and 2 emissions of businesses we invest in is attributed to us, the lender, as a result of extending funding to these businesses,” says Dos Santos. “It is therefore our responsibility to help them reduce these emissions. We could do this through innovative financing solutions such as sustainability-linked loans or direct financing for solar panels across their warehouses or stores, for example.” Anthony Long, chairman of the Capital International Group (CIG), says South Africa currently has very little access to renewable energy. “However, we continue to pursue tactical measures to conserve and reduce energy consumption while using targeted offsetting measures until more renewable sources of energy come on stream to power the buildings where we operate.”

MANDATORY CRFR While many global jurisdictions are on the brink of widespread mandatory CRFR requirements,

COMPANY CULTURE Capital International Group (CIG) gives staff a day to help environmental and social causes across the Isle of Man and South Africa, and has committed to planting two trees for every account opened this year. This may not offset the company’s carbon footprint today, but it encourages employees to be climate-conscious and, over time, contribute towards biodiversity. Source: Anthony Long, CIG

there is currently no mandatory reporting in South Africa or the UK, so companies that disclose their climate-related progress do so according to global best practice. “For many years, investment managers have debated and used the perceived wisdom that, on balance, environmental, social and governance (ECG) portfolios will underperform due to the exclusion of significant sectors of the market and the limited diversification associated with a smaller investment universe,” says Long. “However, it is now evident that investors are considering ESG factors to potentially preserve capital and capture sustainable capital growth. “CIG, as a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, has committed to integrating ESG considerations into our everyday decision-making and adopting a ‘conscious capital’ view of the investment assets we hold in discretionary portfolios for our clients. We have also aligned our ESG investment strategy with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

DID YOU KNOW?

More than 10 years of Carbon Disclosure Project data indicates that South African companies are consistently ahead of their global peers in reporting across many listed indicators. South Africa is also among the leading countries globally on ESG disclosure and reporting. Source: South Africa Sustainable Finance Initiative’s Climate Risk Forum Disclosure Working Group

“IT IS NOW EVIDENT THAT INVESTORS ARE CONSIDERING ESG FACTORS TO POTENTIALLY PRESERVE CAPITAL AND CAPTURE SUSTAINABLE CAPITAL GROWTH.” – ANTHONY LONG 26

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difficulties in different regions to consider, like water consumption in South Africa.”

THE NEED FOR REGULATION In the absence of regulation, it is up to each company to decide what to disclose and how to calculate. “For now, everybody reports using different metrics,” says Dos Santos. “For example, we include the whole supply chain (extraction, power generation, distribution and supporting infrastructure) in our calculation for fossil-fuel exposures, so our exposure could look completely different to other banks that may only report on a subset of the supply chain. There is no consistency in the reporting, so comparisons are often meaningless.”

“YOU GET SCREENED OUT OF CERTAIN FUNDS IF YOU SCORE POORLY IN TERMS OF YOUR CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIONS. IN SOUTH AFRICA, REPUTABLE ACTIVIST GROUPS PUT PRESSURE ON COMPANIES TO BE TRANSPARENT ABOUT EXPOSURES TO HIGH-EMITTING INDUSTRIES.” – TANYA DOS SANTOS

IMAGES: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM, SUPPLIED

Dos Santos says that locally, banks and banking associations are working with Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank to understand what mandatory CRFR should look like in the context of the South African economy. “This collaborative effort ensures that these disclosures are comparative among financial institutions and that there is agreement as to what and how we should disclose. “Investec has followed best-practice reporting for many years and voluntarily signed up to the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Currently we are the only South African bank that has committed to the Net Zero Banking Alliance – an industry-led, UN-convened alliance with its origins in the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative. “The current voluntary guidance is to report in terms of the TCFD guidelines, and we hope South Africa will adopt the same framework

PRESSURE FOR TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

rather than coming up with something completely different,” adds Dos Santos. Long says the only financial reporting standard currently used by CIG is FRS102. “This does not have mandatory reporting for climate change, although we expect this to become more common in the near future. Over the last two years, we have elected to report our progress towards developing sustainable finance initiatives in our audited financial accounts. This year we will report our carbon output and progress towards reaching our ambition of net zero by the end of 2025. One of the big projects our South African staff have been leading is assessing our score across the 55 common metrics defined by the World Economic Forum to understand our full impact on the planet and where we can improve. It is important not to focus solely on reaching net zero when there are other environmental

Despite the absence of regulatory pressure, local investors are nevertheless feeling pressured to disclose decision-enabling information that promotes climate mitigation and adaptation action. “Progress toward sustainability has become a core activity and is now much more mainstream within the investment industry,” says Long. Dos Santos says pressure comes from both shareholders and stakeholders. “You get screened out of certain funds if you score poorly in terms of your climate and environmental actions. In South Africa, reputable activist groups put pressure on companies to be transparent about exposures to high-emitting industries.” Clients also put pressure on companies as stakeholders. “It’s a culmination of many stakeholders, including our clients, rather than regulatory pressure only, which will come soon and ensure standardised reporting,” says Dos Santos. “Clients want to be able to make informed decisions about where to put their money. If you are not transparent with regards to your exposures, it may be a disadvantage to your business.” In light of this, she says South Africa is moving towards stronger reporting on sustainability. “For quite a while, South Africans hid behind our dependency on coal. However, things have moved so rapidly in the past year that we now have to show how we participate in the transition towards a net-zero carbon economy.”

SCIENCE-BASED TARGETS The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a collaboration between four of the most respected environmental organisations – CDP, United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) – helps businesses set ambitious emissions-reduction targets in line with the latest climate science. “Science-based targets show how much and how quickly companies must reduce emissions to keep global warming to 1.5°C,” says Zniko Nhlapho, engagements manager for Science Based Targets at WWF South Africa. “The SBTi’s goal is to accelerate the ability of companies across the world to support the global economy halving emissions before 2030 and achieving net-zero by 2050.” The SBTi defines and promotes best practice in science-based targets, offers resources and guidance to reduce barriers to adoption, and independently assesses and approves companies’ targets. “The SBTi has mobilised more than 2 500 companies in over 60 countries across 50 sectors to align their decarbonisation plans with climate science in a robust and credible way, covering nearly 20 per cent of the global economy,” says Nhlapho. “In 2021, 75 per cent of all targets approved by the SBTi were aligned to 1.5°C pathways; from July 2022, the SBTi will only accept the highest-ambition 1.5°C targets.”

Zniko Nhlapho

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RE TA IL

FAST FACT

The South African plastics sector, despite implementing voluntary EPRs two decades ago, has only achieved a 43 per cent collection rate (input) with much lower recycling (output) rates. Source: CSIR Briefing Note 2021/004

OVER TO YOU, MR PRODUCER New regulations are shifting responsibility for the recycling of post-consumer products to those who place packaging in the market, like manufacturers, importers, licensee agents, brand owners and retailers. CARYN GOOTKIN looks at how effective these laws will be

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mendments to the National Environmental Management Waste Act task producer responsibility organisations (PROs) with developing and implementing extended producer responsibility (EPR) plans. “The extension of responsibility back to the producer for the end life of their products is an important step in creating more responsible and sustainable products and packaging,” says Jane Molony, acting CEO of Fibre Circle, the PRO for paper and packaging.

PROS AS CUSTODIANS OF EPR

IMAGES: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM, SUPPLIED

Several sectors have had voluntary PROs for decades already, like PETCO for the PET plastics industry, which began operations in 2004. “The paper and packaging PROs have always been committed to EPR and welcome the implementation of the regulations,” says Shabeer Jhetam, executive director Shabeer Jhetam of the Packaging Council of South Africa. “We believe an industry-managed model will increase the collection of paper and packaging. Also, all producers will now have to pay EPR fees to the PROs, which will increase funding to achieve their targets.” PETCO CEO Cheri Scholtz says the organisation has always been target driven, but the targets are now regulated and the consequences for missing them more severe. “As a PRO in a competitive environment, our primary responsibility is to

DID YOU KNOW?

PETCO’s decision to support recyclers based on how much they buy from recyclers has seen the recycling of PET grow from 5 000 tonnes in 2005 to 90 000 tonnes in 2020. Source: Cheri Scholtz, PETCO

act on behalf of our members and ensure that they remain compliant.” Despite this competition, the various PROs do work together. “For effective implementation, the various PROs must work together on things like infrastructure, separation at source, awareness creation, education and effective strategies to change behaviour in society,” says Molony. “Fibre Circle has joined others in creating a PRO alliance, which meets regularly to thrash out agreement on a number of important issues.” Jhetam says the key focus of this alliance is working together to achieve EPR targets and objectives. “We foresee collaboration between PROs resulting in achieving economies of scale while meeting EPR targets.”

CREATING CIRCULAR ECONOMIES Ultimately, for the EPR regulations to reduce the amount of packaging going into landfills effectively, PROs must focus on collection, capacity and demand. “In markets like ours that rely heavily on informal collection, we must build a sustainable

value chain,” says Scholtz. “PETCO supports informal collectors and buy-back centres, encourages recyclers to grow their capacity and capability, and stimulates demand. We are focusing on building a more local circular economy by contracting with recyclers and supporting them on a pro rata basis: the more they recycle and buy from collectors, the more we support them.” Levies are calculated per tonne of material, says Jhetam, which incentivises producers to create lighter, more efficient versions of their packaging. “PROs will charge different rates for different materials based on ease of recycling.” Scholtz says eco-modulation of EPR fees (penalising the use of less environmentally friendly materials and rewarding the use of better ones) will drive change to more sustainable or circular packaging in the medium to longer term. “This is an economic tool to incentivise brand owners to choose packaging that attracts the lower fees because they cost less to collect or recycle or have higher end-use value.”

THE ROAD AHEAD EPR regulation, as with all regulatory processes, is a journey: reaching a point of high compliance and effective implementation takes time. “PETCO has been a member of the European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organisations for many years,” says Scholtz. “We have watched the EPR journeys of other countries and seen that the process is often iterative – we learn and adjust as we go.” “We expect certain teething problems as it will be a learning curve for both industry and government,” says Jhetam. “As we progress, we expect amendments to the legislation, as has been the case in most countries with EPR laws.” Scholtz believes the challenge will increase as the targets increase in years three to five. “For many products, achieving these levels of collection and recycling will require a fundamental change in approach. We may not simply be able to rely on the informal sector to collect, and will have to work much more closely with municipalities and residents to ensure recyclables are separated for recycling in the home.”

“THE EXTENSION OF RESPONSIBILITY BACK TO THE PRODUCER FOR THE END LIFE OF THEIR PRODUCTS IS AN IMPORTANT STEP IN CREATING MORE RESPONSIBLE AND SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS AND PACKAGING.” – JANE MOLONY

Cheri Scholtz

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A DV ER T ORI A L AT L A N T IS SPECI A L ECONOMIC ZONE COMPA N Y

GREENTECH HUB TO DRIVE SOCIOECONOMIC IMPROVEMENT The Atlantis Special Economic Zone Company is driving sustainable development and job creation in the area by harnessing the opportunities in the growing green economy

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tlantis in the Western Cape has been prioritised as a greentech hub by all three tiers of government. In December 2021, National Treasury approved the scheduling of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone (SEZ) state-owned company (SOC) Limited as a provincial business enterprise. Local businesses and the community are set to benefit from what promises to be a gamechanger for the regional economy as the Atlantis Special Economic Zone Company (ASEZCo) for green technologies becomes a focal point for investment. The ASEZCo forms part of a mature and effective investment ecosystem in the Western Cape. Partnerships with InvestSA, Wesgro, Greencape and the City of Cape Town’s Enterprise and Investment Unit create an environment of rapid facilitation and access to opportunities – considered to be best practice globally. The support received from this ecosystem can be leveraged to make your business more globally competitive. Opportunities to establish profitable trade relationships exist through Wesgro’s trade facilitation unit and GreenCape’s membership in the International Cleantech Network (ICN). Both these mechanisms provide immediate access to international markets, helping to grow your order book significantly and mitigating against supplying to a single market.

IDEAL LOCATION, PLENTIFUL ADVANTAGES Atlantis is the ideal location from where to compete in Africa’s green technology markets. The ASEZCo offers industrial-zoned land, a strong support base from government, as well as fruitful

“WITH THE PROVISION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY, FIBRE INTERNET CONNECTIVITY AND RECYCLED WATER, THE RESOURCE-EFFICIENT MANNER IN WHICH GREEN TECHNOLOGY MANUFACTURERS CAN MANUFACTURE THEIR GOODS ADDS ADDITIONAL VALUE TO THEIR PRODUCT AT THE GLOBAL LEVEL.” – JARROD LYONS 32

Jarrod Lyons

business relationships for investors, as you work closely with the locals and help uplift the community. This mutually beneficial relationship is a good foundation for sustainable productivity and success. “The ASEZCo has the ability to leverage national government funding to provide worldclass infrastructure to investors and partners looking to manufacture their green technologies in the most efficient and environmentally friendly manner in Africa. With the provision of renewable energy, fibre internet connectivity and recycled water, the resource-efficient manner in which green technology manufacturers can produce their goods adds additional value to their product

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at the global level. The demand for responsibly manufactured goods is on the rise globally, with consumers being more mindful of the impacts of production on the environment,” comments Jarrod Lyons, Executive: Business Development.

LIVING LAB The Atlantis SEZ has positioned itself as a world-class eco-industrial park and Living Lab. The Living Lab is an exciting concept that the ASEZCo will embody in showcasing how green and sustainable industrial development is possible. The Living Lab’s five goals are: 1. Net-zero carbon, which means using as much renewable energy as possible, for example, relying on solar panels and biogas for power. 2. Net-zero water, using less water in the zone than falls onto the land each year. This can be achieved through water retention ponds and the reuse of rainwater in factories and for landscaping. 3. Net-zero waste to landfill. This involves working with industrialists to find creative ways of turning waste into resources for production processes. 4. Net-zero loss in ecological value. This means working with nature and includes activities such as removing alien plant species from the SEZ land, relocating existing threatened species, and, once the factories are built, restoring as much of the ecology as possible in an industrial area. 5. Maximising social inclusion, which means working closely with the community in everything, be it ensuring access to jobs during construction, training in new skills, or helping support new businesses and small, micro and medium enterprises. A dedicated team is doing everything possible to ensure that the Atlantis SEZ positively impacts the community.

IMAGES: SUPPLIED

COLLABORATION, FACILITATION AND UPLIFTMENT Infrastructure executive Matthew Cullinan says: “It is an exciting, but also challenging time if certainty and predictability is what you need. For special economic zones, such as the Atlantis SEZ, which is specifically positioning itself to support greentech investors, it requires a flexible and adaptable approach. A willingness to get going, to learn and test is key as one evolves an approach that speaks to investor tenant demands and grows an exciting and compelling locational proposition. It is still early days, but we can already see some key advantages of this focus emerging.

These include growing collaborative efforts to grow skills and enterprises in the local economy and community. The ability to draw in, and connect with, various project partners, most notably across the three spheres of government is a huge asset. This structure is represented in the collaborative efforts shown in programmes that are being implemented in Atlantis. “There is a focus on building skill sets relevant for the green economy, not just in the SEZ, but also for the regional and national economy,” Cullinan continues. “The need for green skills is steadily growing globally, resulting in future-proof career opportunities for suitably skilled citizens. In all this, we continually emphasise, as part of the company culture, the role and value of active investment facilitation in ensuring that investors looking to get into the exciting greentech market are supported and given a solid and secure base from which to operate.” Green skills development and growing technical capabilities within the Atlantis community are part of the ASEZCo’s strategic objectives, aligned to the legislative requirement of the Special Economic Zones Act to grow the regional economy and drive socioeconomic impact. The integrated ecosystem department (IES) includes skills and enterprise development, together with community integration. The team applies principles of system thinking to identify and address deeply rooted socioeconomic challenges in a complex community environment and to support the expansion of community assets and adaptive systems. The IES team’s work supports the Living Lab through its activities, most notably ensuring social inclusion through harnessing green technology for the Atlantis community and its industrial zone. The team of six collectively implement initiatives to support the development agenda. Their expertise includes business incubation, green economy and digital development, Matt Cullinan and community engagement coupled with a wealth of business and local knowledge from three homegrown Atlantis talents. The aim is to enable the Atlantis community, and particularly its youth, to tap into growing job opportunities, particularly opportunities in the buoyant green economy.

The investment in skills development and community initiatives is aligned with many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), collectively aimed at providing a resilient and more sustainable future for Atlantis. The concept of “shared value” refers to identifying and expanding connections between societal and economic progress. This is a powerful practice, which is driven by the core of business thus ensuring that sustainable and equitable impact on communities is not extractive by nature, but value-adding. The work in skills development and community integration directly addresses SDGs 8 “Decent work and economic growth”, SDG 9 “Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure” and SDG 11 “Sustainable cities and communities”. The integration of business and community through intentional engagement and action actively enables participation in the Ellen Fischat economy and accessing employment opportunities. IES executive Ellen Fischat says: “The Atlantis Special Economic Zone has been established to bring social and economic development to this region. Social inclusion is important when we are building economies. Our team is responsible for ensuring that there is community integration between business, the public sector and our investors. They also need to ensure that the local community is skilled to take up these positions, or start businesses of their own. Driving growth through green economy innovation and sustainable job opportunities remains at the heart of what the ASEZCo does, and is what the IES team brings to life within the Atlantis community.” The Atlantis Special Economic Zone will continue to grow the regional economy in a meaningful and impactful way, enabling the regeneration of Atlantis in a way that puts sustainability, and social inclusion at the top of its agenda.

➔ Scan this QR code to go directly to the Atlantis Special Economic Zone Company website.

For more information: Jarrod Lyons 087 183 7000 jarrod@atlantissez.co.za www.atlantissez.com

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Raft rope wild mussels Saldanha Bay

HOW SUSTAINABLE

IS SEAFOOD?

Global overfishing of vital stocks places our oceans – and therefore our planet – in peril. TREVOR CRIGHTON looks at what can be done to stave off disaster

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lobal fish production is estimated to have reached about 179 million tonnes in 2018, according to the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020 report, released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Based on the FAO’s long-term monitoring of assessed marine fish stocks, these resources are in decline. The proportion of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels decreased from 90 per cent in 1974 to 65.8 per cent in 2017, with the proportion of stocks fished at biologically unsustainable levels increasing from 10 per cent in 1974 to 34.2 per cent in 2017. Pavitray Pillay, environmental behaviour change practitioner at WWF South Africa and manager of the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), believes that closer to 90 per cent of our fisheries are either fully exploited or completely depleted. “The problem with the statistics is that they’re based on data provided to FAO, which doesn’t include illegal fishing or unreported and unregulated fishing. Fish stocks all over the world are in a shambles with those like northern cod and Namibia’s sardine stocks completely depleted.” Pillay says there are several reasons why the state of the world’s fish stocks is much worse than reported. “Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, including poaching, are big problems because we have no record of what is being illegally extracted or unreported. This includes fisheries with all the relevant paperwork

Pavitray Pillay

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FAST FACT

• In 2017, fish consumption accounted for 17 per cent of the global population’s intake of animal proteins and 7 per cent of all proteins consumed. • In 2018, world aquaculture fish, aquatic algae, and ornamental seashell and pearl production reached an all-time high of 114.5 million tonnes. Aquaculture fish production was dominated by fin fish (54.3 million tonnes), molluscs (17.7 million tonnes) and crustaceans (9.4 million tonnes). Source: 2020 State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture Report

and permits that under-report or don’t report at all. It’s unregulated, and there’s no management or monitoring. As a result, there’s no compliance.”

THE PROTEIN PROBLEM The second reason is demand, with fish seen as the last real raw protein, less genetically modified than beef and chicken and having a lower carbon footprint. “In the South African context, seafood is aspirational, and we’ve seen massive adoption of the consumption of seafood over the last decade,” says Pillay. “Ten years ago, you’d never have seen a sushi bar in a retailer, but now they’re everywhere with a resulting massive increase in demand for more exotic and high-value species of fish like prawns and lobster.”

“ILLEGAL, UNREGULATED AND UNREPORTED FISHING, INCLUDING POACHING, ARE BIG PROBLEMS BECAUSE WE HAVE NO RECORD OF WHAT IS BEING ILLEGALLY EXTRACTED OR UNREPORTED.” – PAVITRAY PILLAY

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to being impossible to find or fish. On the other hand, our hake fisheries are MSC-certified. It’s amazing how we can manage some species so well, yet others are totally ineffectively managed.”

TECHNOLOGY CAN HELP

Namibia hake trawl vessel, Walvis Bay

“IF ALL FISHING WAS SUSTAINABLE, IT WOULD PROVIDE ENOUGH ADDITIONAL PROTEIN FOR THE COMBINED POPULATIONS OF SOUTH AFRICA AND ZIMBABWE.” – DR ANDREW GORDON Dr Andrew Gordon, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) fisheries outreach manager for Southern Africa, says that overfishing deprives the world of enough protein to meet the yearly needs of 72 million people. “If all fishing was sustainable, it would provide enough additional protein for the combined populations of South Africa and Zimbabwe. Sustainable fishing does exist and helps protect our oceans. Research shows that well-managed, Dr Andrew Gordon sustainable fish stocks are also more productive in the long term, meaning there is more seafood for our growing global population, which is set to reach 10 billion by 2050. If we take care of our fish stocks, they’ll take care of us.” The MSC’s Fisheries Standard is a science-based way to measure that sustainability. When fisheries are independently assessed to the standard, Gordon says that three main principles are considered: • Sustainable fi sh stocks: fishing must be at a level that ensures it can continue

IMAGES: SUPPLIED

SUSTAINABLE SHELLFISH IN SOUTH AFRICA Shellfish are among the most sustainable types of seafood. The MSC is supporting the rope-grown mussel fishery in Saldanha Bay to help it become more sustainable. Two species of mussel, the indigenous black mussel and the introduced Mediterranean mussel, now occur naturally in the bay. They start life as free-swimming larvae in search of a hard surface – usually a

indefinitely and the fish population can remain productive and healthy. • Minimising environmental impacts: fishing activity must be managed carefully so that other species and habitats within the ecosystem remain healthy. • Effective fisheries management: MSC-certified fisheries must comply with relevant laws and be able to adapt to changing environmental circumstances. Gordon says more than 400 MSC-certified fisheries around the world are already leading the way in best practice. “Often working closely with local agencies and science bodies, they also help drive research and innovation, adding to the body of knowledge in fisheries science.” South Africa exports half of its catch and then imports half of the seafood demanded by consumers. A total of 312 million kilograms of seafood is consumed in the country each year. South Africa imports hake from Argentina (which is red-listed), as well as Chilean and Patagonian squid. Most of our MSC-certified hake is exported to Europe, as well as almost all of our squid and calamari, which is highly prized in Spain and referred to as “white gold”. “Our previous precautionary approach to managing our fisheries has slipped, which has resulted in issues around our stocks,” says Pillay. “Our iconic sardine stocks are incredibly low, and the West Coast rock lobster is close

rock – to which they attach themselves. Local harvesters capitalise on this with vertical farms: systems of ropes suspended from long lines or rafts that provide a substrate on which mussels can settle. Once there, the so-called “rope-grown mussels” are left to feed and grow naturally for several months before being reeled in and harvested. As part of the MSC’s Fish for Good project, mussel growers in the bay have been making improvements towards the

Technology can play a role in helping our fisheries become more sustainable – and not all of it needs to be advanced. “The South African hake-trawl fi shery has managed to reduce 90 per cent of seabird deaths and 99 per cent of albatross deaths in their deep-sea trawl vessels by using ‘bird-scaring lines’ made simply of rope, plastic tubing and a traffic cone,” says Gordon. Pillay says that the introduction of blockchain technology in the local industry has made it easier to trace fish from boat to plate, helping consumers understand whether or not what they’re eating is truly sustainable. While more South Africans are asking the right questions around sustainable seafood, Pillay says that awareness doesn’t equate to action. “Ask your retailer how sustainable their seafood is and hold them accountable. Your greatest voting strengths are your voice and your wallet – this is how we keep retailers and the industry accountable. When people understand that an unhealthy ocean leads to an unhealthy planet that can’t sustain human life, they understand the need to make the right choices.”

Download the SASSI app

Follow @WWFSASSI on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Find out more about the work of the Marine Stewardship Council at @MSCinAfrica or https://www.msc.org.

MSC Fisheries Standard since 2018. They hope to achieve certification soon through the In-Transition to MSC programme. “The desire to take a sustainable route not only makes economic sense, but also provides significant additional benefits since it can also support an array of ecosystem services, such as improving the water quality of the bay and providing a safe habitat for young fish and crustaceans,” says the MSC’s Dr Andrew Gordon.

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PACK AGING

IS SOUTH AFRICA READY FOR

BIOPLASTICS? With single-use packaging being phased out across the globe, how realistic is it for South Africa to invest in and adopt sustainable packaging materials on a meaningful scale? By ITUMELENG MOGAKI

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s we zoom in on the pros and cons of sustainable packaging on the local front, we speak to a supplier of biodegradable products and a plastic packaging industry representative about their views on this hot topic.

IMAGES: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

NOT VIABLE Shabeer Jhetam, executive director of the Packaging Council of South Africa, presents several challenges from the cost of biodegradable packaging right up to environmental challenges. “South Africans are battling to make ends meet. Coupled with the fact that bioplastics are far more expensive than traditional plastics, it is unlikely that most of our population will be able to purchase biodegradable products,” says Jhetam. He adds: “One needs to balance the economic benefit versus the environmental benefit for our citizens. The reality is even if bioplastics were more affordable, without separate collection systems and industrial composting facilities for them in South Africa, they do not make a viable option at this stage.” Jhetam says the majority of materials required to produce biodegradable plastic packaging need to be imported, creating a negative impact on our carbon footprint and resulting in extremely high transport costs.

FAST FACT

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is working towards developing bioplastics that will be completely biodegradable and recyclable. Source: CSIR

Biodegradable plastics are marketed to retailers and the food service and hotel industries sector as the preferred alternative to traditional plastics, based on the claim that they can be decomposed. Jhetam cautions that biodegradation is dependent on certain environmental conditions and needs specialised industrial composting facilities, of which we do not have many in South Africa. Further, the introduction of bioplastics would contaminate current recycling streams should they not be collected separately. At this stage, it is very difficult to collect biodegradable plastics in South Africa separately.

A SUSTAINABLE OPTION Vino Yeganviaram, the South African representative for Lension (SA), a Singaporean company that offers alternative and sustainable packaging solutions to the African continent, holds a slightly different view.

“ECM ADDITIVE BAGS COMPLETE THE CYCLE OF RESPONSIBLE PLASTIC USAGE. THEY CAN BE REUSED BECAUSE THEY DON’T LOSE STRENGTH OVER TIME.” – VINO YEGANVIARAM

She says: “Lension was established in 2015 in South Africa because of our commitment to offering alternative and sustainable packaging solutions to the country and African continent. We continue to supply different eco-friendly products to wholesalers, retailers, and small businesses alike. The products we supply are biodegradable carrier bags and reusable recycled shopping bags mainly purchased by wholesalers, retailers, restaurants, supermarkets, and small businesses, and they have thus far proven to be a hit with all our current and potential customers.” Yeganviaram says their compostable and biodegradable range is made of corn starch and treated with ECM additive compatible with the current recycling stream. “ECM additive bags complete the cycle of responsible plastic usage. They can be reused because they don’t lose strength over time. ECM can also be recycled, giving life to new products. And, if it unfortunately ends up in the environment, it will biodegrade with the assistance of microbes and bacteria.” She believes sustainable packaging can be a sustainable strategy locally. “Firstly, if there was no market to sell our products, we would not still be here. To my knowledge and experience, South Africans are willing to make less use of traditional plastics and opt for more eco-friendly products. Secondly, some cities, like Cape Town in particular, continue to use different platforms to advocate for a cleaner and greener environment. That already tells you there are people who truly care that much about the environment and are willing to play their part,” she concludes.

DID YOU KNOW?

In South Africa, 94 per cent of the waste on beaches is plastic, 77 per cent of which is single-use plastic. Source: Averda

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PACKING IT IN The world is trying to move away from unsustainable packaging. Can it afford to? By ITUMELENG MOGAKI

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he EU ban on single-use plastics came into effect last year, banning a host of plastic products including plastic cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, polystyrene drinks, food vessels and so forth. “Considering the repercussions of global climate change and the rate of wasted consumption that has happened in the last 50 years, living in an eco-unfriendly way can no longer be an option,” says Lauren Clack, co-founder of EcoPack. “I don’t think the earth has the time for us to continue consuming to depletion the very resources that sustain us, but doing the ‘right thing’ does not come cheap in some parts of the world due to economic development and infrastructure challenges.” Clack says sustainability awareness is much more prevalent now than it was 10 years ago, and believes that sustainable

packaging is a viable strategy globally. “In terms of sustainability, global companies that manufacture sustainable products have that knowledge of doing the right thing. Granted, some are doing it purely for the capital gain, but there are also those who do it for the right reasons because they have a good product, great market, and are trying to be ethical in their production.” She says even though in some parts of the world it’s a luxury to choose between sustainability and traditional ways of doing things, at some point we all have to start behaving and manufacturing using responsible and sustainable methods.

THE PRICE ISN’T YET RIGHT Talking about several challenges regarding biodegradable plastics versus traditional ones, Clack says generally anyone targeting a mass

“I DON’T THINK THE EARTH HAS THE TIME FOR US TO CONTINUE CONSUMING TO DEPLETION THE VERY RESOURCES THAT SUSTAIN US, BUT DOING THE ‘RIGHT THING’ DOES NOT COME CHEAP IN SOME PARTS OF THE WORLD.” – LAUREN CLACK 40

FAST FACT

Local nongovernmental organisation Love Our City Klean allows volunteers to exchange recycling for essentials like beans, soups and rice. Source: Love Our City Klean

market with a low-cost product is not going to be interested. “Why would they buy a product that is 20 per cent or more expensive when their product is high volume and low cost, whereas people who are putting a product that is maybe unique, low quantity, high quality and niche into the market are at the losing end of sustainability?” Clack says the expense incurred along the supply chain ends up being passed on to the consumer. “The companies that are concerned and willing to make the changes absorb a fair amount of the difference, and they probably pass on a small portion of that to the consumer. You also find a small portion of business who will do it because making sustainable choices forms part of their core business ethos or identity – a move that we at EcoPack support.”

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PACK AGING

IMAGES: SUPPLIED, ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVES Clack says EcoPack produces compostable food packaging, targeting mostly the takeaway market. “At the moment, there are compostable, biodegradable and sustainable alternatives to, or the exact replica of, takeaway coffee cups made from foam-core or polystyrene containers. “We must push reusable coffee cups, for example, as a sustainable option that will be used over and over. Where that is not possible, compostable biodegradable food packaging products are the next best thing,” concludes Clack. However, Annabe Pretorius, technical operations executive at Plastics SA, holds an opposing view, saying there are few packaging solutions that can compete with plastics’ versatility, cost-effectiveness, and overall life-cycle assessment. “If you look at factors such as energy and water consumption and global warming, plastic packaging has the lowest carbon footprint of all packaging materials. It is light and Annabe Pretorius has lower production and transportation impact than alternative materials,” she argues. She also claims that the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated how much we need plastics in our modern lives. “Restaurants and fast-food chains relied on polystyrene packaging, for example, to keep their food hot, hygienic, and fresh when home deliveries were only permitted under lockdown restrictions. “Polystyrene is made up of 94 per cent air and only 6 per cent is product. Polystyrene offers unparalleled insulation, keeps costs down, and prevents breakage or spoilage,” she says.

END PLASTIC INITIATIVE The South African Initiative to End Plastic Pollution in the Environment was formed in 2019 to address environmental, social, economic, and political issues around pollution. All players in the local plastics packaging value chain are party to the initiative, including raw material producers, the chemicals sector, packaging converters, retailers, local and international brand owners, fast food franchises, government stakeholders and the UN Environment Programme. Source: Plastics SA

Cassandra Gamble, environmental research and communications at Green Home, says renewable materials are part of a cyclical model. “That’s what re-new-able means: they can replenish themselves. In contrast, plastic is made from fossil fuels, which are part of a linear model of extractive consumption. They also have an enormous environmental impact, including climate breakdown and pollution.” Gamble says all Green Home’s products are compostable, so they fit into nature’s time-tested recycling strategy, which involves cycles of breakdown, through biodegradation and regrowth,

“RENEWABLE MATERIALS ARE PART OF A CYCLICAL MODEL. THAT’S WHAT RE-NEW-ABLE MEANS: THEY CAN REPLENISH THEMSELVES.” – CASSANDRA GAMBLE

reusing the nutrients made available during breakdown. “This means that if a product can no longer be recycled it can then be composted and returned to the earth.” “Ever-growing awareness of environmental and health issues serve to drive a culture of consumer responsibility. While we still have a long way to go, many consumers are driving a shift to more sustainable packaging, which includes less packaging. There are also many in the ranks of the major retailers and corporations who have a strong environmental conscience and are leading the change decisively too,” concludes Gamble.

THE PLASTIC PROBLEM Pretorius says that the plastic industry acknowledges there is a worldwide plastic litter problem. “It is important to highlight, however, that the waste clogging our rivers, streams, and oceans is not solely caused by plastics. Because plastic is a lightweight material, it floats and is therefore often the most visible pollutant. This has caused the plastics industry to have a big target on its back and some of the statements used in antiplastic arguments are grossly overstated.” Regardless of this, the industry will have to adapt sooner or later. With extended producer responsibility regulations coming into effect, the onus is shifting to brands to ensure packaging is disposed of responsibly. How they walk the tightrope between sustainability and affordability remains to be seen. Cassandra Gamble

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REGULATING THE ENERGY SECTOR The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) ensures the orderly development of the energy sector, mainly through licensing, setting and approving of prices and tariffs, compliance monitoring and enforcement, and dispute resolution in the electricity, piped-gas and petroleum pipelines industries. NERSA endeavours to be more innovative and agile in ensuring that it continues to make a valuable contribution to the socioeconomic development and prosperity of the people of South Africa by regulating the energy industry in accordance with government laws, policies, standards and international best practices in support of sustainable development. NERSA is a regulatory authority established as a juristic person in terms of section 3 of the National Energy Regulator Act, 2004

The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy appoints Members of the Energy Regulator, comprising Part-Time (Non-Executive) and Full-Time (Executive) Regulator Members, including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Energy Regulator is supported by staff under the direction of the CEO.

Muzi Mkhize, Full-Time Regulator Member Petroleum Pipelines

Nhlanhla Gumede, Full-Time Regulator Member: Electricity

Adv Nomalanga Sithole, Chief Executive Officer and Full-Time Regulator Member

(Act No 40 of 2004). NERSA’s mandate is to regulate the electricity, piped-gas and petroleum pipelines industries in terms of the Electricity Regulation Act, 2006 (Act No 4 of 2006), Gas Act, 2001 (Act No 48 of 2001) and Petroleum Pipelines Act, 2003 (Act No 60 of 2003). NERSA’s mandate is further derived from written government policies and regulations issued by the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy. NERSA is expected to perform the necessary regulatory actions in anticipation of and/or in response to the changing circumstances in the energy industry.

Nomfundo Maseti, Full-Time Regulator Member Piped-Gas

Fungai Sibanda, Part-Time Regulator Member

Zandile Mpungose, Part-Time Regulator Member

For more info: Kulawula House, 526 Madiba Street, Arcadia, 0083 P O Box 40343, Arcadia, 0007 Tel: 012 401 4600 Fax: 012 401 4700 Website: www.nersa.org.za Email: info@nersa.org.za @NERSA_ZA

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ENERGY

ENABLING ENERGY TRANSITION To effect a viable transition to sustainable energy, South Africa needs investment, an enabling regulatory environment and a good deal of smart, practical innovation, writes ANTHONY SHARPE

B

y now, we’re all too familiar with Eskom’s problems. Chief among these in most people’s eyes is the utility’s inability to provide enough power to keep the lights on. This is, to be fair, a pretty titanic problem: last year PwC analysts predicted that load shedding would halve the country’s growth and wipe out 275 000 potential jobs. That’s extremely worrying for South Africa. But Eskom is also worrying for the rest of the world. In October last year, a report by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air laid the situation bare: Eskom emits more sulphur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere than any other power company on earth. It’s clear we need to change things. Even Eskom, which makes money selling coal power (with a smattering of renewables, nuclear and diesel) to the country, admits this. “Andre de Ruyter has made it very clear that renewable energy is where we need to be heading,” says Prof Thinus Booysen of Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Engineering. “The world is heading there and we need to follow, otherwise we’re going to have taxes that will completely kill exports.” Booysen says that at a government level, there’s a conflict of interest inherent in the title of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. “The assumption here is that energy goes with minerals, and that’s not the case anymore. It’s an outdated way of thinking.”

DID YOU KNOW?

Eskom reported that during the 2020/21 financial year, it emitted 1.6 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide (SO2). The International Energy Agency estimates that in 2019, India’s coal-burning SO2 emissions were 4.3 million tonnes – for a population 23 times the size of South Africa’s. All 28 EU countries account for only a third of Eskom’s emissions.

APPLIED RESEARCH

Dr Clinton Carter-Brown, head of the Energy Centre at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), says the Energy Centre is positioned to provide thought leadership around the transition to sustainable energy and the opportunities it represents for the country. “That involves a lot of advocacy and lobbying, providing the necessary data and research and development to support policy and strategy development. This has been largely at the country level, but we’re increasingly doing so at a municipal and enterprise level too.” Transitioning to clean energy is much (much) more complicated than simply installing solar panels everywhere, so the centre investigates what is economically viable and how it links to the broader economy and job creation. “We do elements of technology development, but a large part of our work is decision support,” says Carter-Brown. “How do you take proven technologies and apply them for benefit in South Africa?” Carter-Brown says much of the work involves applied research, giving the example of offshore wind development. “This is an area of opportunity for the country. But it’s not so much about developing a new wind turbine because that development is being done in Europe, the US and China. We’re doing the research and development around our local conditions, oceans, infrastructure and environmental impact. Would technology developed elsewhere work as expected under our conditions and be economically viable?” ›

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ENERGY

FIT FOR PURPOSE

THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB Once you’ve established which solutions are fit for which market, you still need to know where and how best to deploy them. To this end, SANEDI develops innovative tools and resource measurements, including the Wind Atlas for South Africa, which measures wind resources across the country, a solar map, which is now with an external company, and an agricultural waste bioenergy map in collaboration with the Department of Science and Innovation. “These tools are designed to level the playing field for new entrants to the energy sector,” explains Surridge. “It’s expensive to measure a resource at a certain site: smaller companies are financially constrained and get pushed out by larger players. These tools provide access to the data for free.” At an energy-management level, SANEDI has also developed a tool – both online and as an app – that facilitates energy-efficient lighting in buildings. “It looks at current lighting, how many hours you use it per week and where you are in the country, then presents you with an energy-efficient alternative lighting solution. This involves replacement hardware costing, including

“We have to move from a centralised, command-and-control policy and regulatory environment to a more democratised, market-based arrangement where a lot of the new capacity isn’t being built by Eskom, but rather by private industry.” – DR CLINTON CARTER-BROWN disposal costs for your old lights, payback period and return on investment. It’s an excellent tool for the building energy-efficiency assessors and auditors.”

STORAGE SOLUTIONS One crucial aspect of South Africa’s energy transition is storage, as renewable power is inherently intermittent: the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Carter-Brown says this isn’t an urgent challenge for the country yet. “We can connect a lot of new capacity to the grid without introducing new storage. We’ve got pump storage and flexibility in the system. As the renewable portion of the energy mix grows, storage will become an issue, but we’re probably a decade away from that.” Regardless, the Energy Centre is using that time to research different storage technologies in terms of volume and duration and develop strategic vision around this. They’re also working with the Flemish Institute for Technological Research to develop a local energy storage testing facility. The CSIR is collaborating with SANEDI, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, Eskom, the US Trade and Development Agency and several universities to research energy storage.

ACCELERATING THE TRANSITION South Africa’s landmark Just Energy Transition Partnership with France, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union mobilised R131-billion to finance decarbonisation in South Africa. The partnership uses the Accelerating Coal Transition investment programme, which works across three pillars: • Governance: building technical and institutional capabilities, formulating transformation strategies, and planning for economic and social development. • People and communities: working to minimise the impact of energy transition on communities, for example, those who rely on mining for employment. • Infrastructure: reclaiming and repurposing land and power plants. Source: Climate Investment Funds

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“We’ve mapped out the potential business case for storage in South Africa, of which batteries are just one component,” says Surridge. “Hydrogen for energy storage is going to become more important. As we bring more renewables into the mix, we have to stabilise them, and the only way to do that is through a fuel source like hydrogen.”

DEMOCRATISING ENERGY With new technology and deployments comes a level of democratisation and decentralisation, without the need for mega-project power stations and a centralised buyer like Eskom. “We have to move from a centralised, command-and-control policy and regulatory environment to a more democratised, market-based arrangement where a lot of the new capacity isn’t being built by Eskom, but rather by private industry. It’s a fundamental mindset change in terms of national policy around how we as a country tend to centralise and control things,” concludes Carter-Brown.

“HYDROGEN FOR ENERGY STORAGE IS GOING TO BECOME MORE IMPORTANT. AS WE BRING MORE RENEWABLES INTO THE MIX, WE HAVE TO STABILISE THEM, AND THE ONLY WAY TO DO THAT IS THROUGH A FUEL SOURCE LIKE HYDROGEN.” – DR KAREN SURRIDGE

SANEDI Energy Efficiency Lighting Tool and App

IMAGES: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM, SUPPLIED

Working hard to ensure new technologies are applied effectively in the local context is the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), which serves as a catalyst for sustainable energy development in the country. “It’s crucial to deploy technologies that are fit for purpose in South Africa,” says Dr Karen Surridge, SANEDI’s renewable programme manager. “We often talk about adopting technology, but you also have to adapt technology.” Surridge says that deploying solutions without careful research and appropriate localisation may lead to failure, which can give these technologies a bad name. “For people to embrace new technology, you have to put down solutions that will deliver what they need. You usually get one chance with people.” Technologies need to be fit for purpose, but they also need to make financial sense. “We look at the return on investment and maintenance requirements. It’s about building a business case for technologies that are fit for purpose.”

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s A nedi A DV ER T ORI A L

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY IN THE

YEAR OF RECOVERY

ENERGY EFFICIENT BUILDINGS CUT COSTS, INCREASE VALUE Saving on energy costs is an attractive feature for both commercial and domestic properties because it raises the property value, providing benefits for tenants, landlords and homeowners. The more energy efficient buildings become, the more they will contribute to taking electricity demand off the national grid. This could help to ease loadshedding, and by reducing carbon emissions, building owners help our country meet our goals in mitigating climate change. SANEDI General Manager for Energy Efficiency, Barry Bredenkamp says compliance with Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) regulations will enable building owners to identify where they could introduce energy efficiency measures that would, in turn, save them money and possibly increase the value of their buildings. “An energy efficient building is generally a better environment in which to work and is significantly less expensive to run, so an owner can potentially justify a higher price if they want to sell or impose a higher rental fee,” explains Bredenkamp.

And while beneficial, South Africa is not leaving well managed energy performance up to chance. Building owners have nine months left to obtain and prominently display an EPC or risk a fine of R5 million, five years imprisonment or both. Buildings that need to comply are offices, entertainment facilities, educational institution buildings, and places of public assembly such as sporting facilities and community centres. The primary objective in obliging building owners to obtain certification is to make them aware of their energy consumption and encourage them to be more energy efficient if their rating is poor,” explains Bredenkamp.

ENERGY ISSUES DEMANDING GREATER ATTENTION Energy efficiency, a ‘Just Energy Transition’ and development of a green hydrogen industry are asserting themselves and demanding greater attention in 2022. Energy sector leader Lethabo Manamela says there is a need to promote greater energy efficiency as a highly effective, least-cost means to take pressure off the national electricity grid and take demand off Eskom. In addition, she has encouraged the sector to throw its weight behind the development of a ‘Green Hydrogen Economy’ as envisaged in the South Africa Hydrogen Valley Report. Manamela believes that the country needs to apply substantial attention to making the energy transition inclusive. For more information, go to www.sanedi.org.za.

"The country needs to apply substantial attention to making the energy transition inclusive."

Lethabo Manamela Interim CEO at SANEDI

SIMPLE TIPS TO USE ENERGY SUSTAINABLY South Africans enjoy a good braai, making tip number one an easy taker. Both opting for an outdoor grill and using a microwave are more energy efficient ways to cook than with a regular oven. Top this with labelled energy efficient appliances and LED light bulbs with the new habit of switching a plug off when it is not in use, and transform your energy consumption while saving on electricity costs. Tip number two will take a good share of demand off your running metre and your pocket. It is your geyser, turning it off when not in use (especially when you are on holiday) will make your home energy efficient. You can also consider setting your water heater to “low” or take advantage of holiday mode settings to reduce energy waste from one of the biggest energy guzzlers in the home. People often underestimate the power of a single light bulb to the demand on the energy system. Tip number three is the easiest on the road to energy efficiency. Did you know that if every household switched off just one unnecessary light, the saving would be equivalent to about 800MW? That’s more than the amount of electricity produced by a unit of a major power station.

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Sustainability issues have gone mainstream at a time when people and the planet most need it. From energy efficient buildings to saving energy at home, there is no better time than now to go green. 2022 will be a year of accelerated focus on the country’s energy transition – one that SANEDI interim CEO Lethabo Manamela agrees must leave no one behind – in her top energy trends to look out for.


T HOUGH T L E A DERSHIP

Green deserts? Most certainly not

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he irony of the term “green deserts” is that if critics understood deserts, they would know they are teeming with life. In nature, knowing where to look is a fundamental decree. The same is true for timber plantations. Sustainable forestry aids important ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water resources, soil and biodiversity conservation. For aeons, humans have used trees and their byproducts of wood, bark, fruit, leaves and essences as fuel, food, fibre, medicine and, more recently, an array of processed and manufactured goods such as paper, packaging and cellulose. South Africa, a tree-poor country, is home to a mere 500 000 hectares (ha) of indigenous forests, roughly 0.4 per cent of the total land area, while only 1 per cent of South Africa’s land comprises productive timber plantations. These were established in the early 1900s to preserve indigenous forests and provide wood for housing, fuel, furniture and paper-making, among other things. Today, there are 1.2 million ha of pine and eucalyptus, along with a small percentage of wattle. These are fast-growing, exotic species that need to be managed exceptionally well to mitigate the impact on the environment. Thanks to collaboration, research and improved data, modern or new-generation plantations are better designed, with world-class management regimes to reduce their impact on water, soil and ecological networks.

MORE THAN MONO At a smaller scale in timber compartments or stands, plantations are monocultures (single species), much like maize crops or wheat fields. At a macro level, the South African forestry

DID YOU KNOW?

Deforestation is the removal of trees or clearing of forests for commercial development, housing, firewood or agriculture without replanting.

landscape is a synergistic mosaic of planted trees and conservation spaces. According to Forestry South Africa, 70 per cent of South Africa’s forestry landscape comprises 171 197 ha of grassland, 12 902 ha of fynbos, 62 269 ha of indigenous forest and 59 513 ha of water bodies within commercial forestry landholdings – a collective 305 000 ha of ecologically valuable space. In many instances, these are managed, along with the plantations, by forestry companies. Mondi South Africa’s plantations have been described, in a study by New Generations Plantations and the International Union of Forest Research Organisations’ working group, as having a “richness and abundance of dragonflies and butterflies”, and are “frequented by a wide range of large mammals including elephants, white rhinos, buffalo, giraffe and zebra”. Sappi is host to seven protected conservation zones. Clairmont Nature Reserve on Sappi’s Clairmont plantation in KwaZulu-Natal not only connects two other nature reserves and defragments this essential habitat, but is also home

to approximately 940 ha of grasslands and forested valleys on the botanically diverse Mahwaqa Mountain, which itself supports over 1 000 plant species.

REPLENISHMENT, REPAIR AND CONSERVATION It is a myth that timber production in South Africa equates to deforestation. Trees are planted, grown and harvested in line with international certification standards and local legislation. More than 80 per cent of South Africa’s plantations are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and recently, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC) was opened to South African timber growers through the Sustainable African Assurance Scheme, an organisation that developed the local PEFC standard. Less than 10 per cent of the country’s plantation area is harvested annually. This is replanted in the same year with new saplings, often at a ratio of two trees for each one harvested. This ensures a constant supply of carbon-capturing, productive trees for years to come, making paper and wood products renewable products. Even here, the smallest of critters benefit. After harvesting, bark, limbs and leaves are left behind as a mulch, regenerating the soil and providing sustenance and refuge for creatures that aid in the decomposition of organic matter. This in turn attracts birds and other predators. And so the circle of life and biodiversity continues. The forest products sector is the core of a circular bioeconomy, greener economic recovery and demonstrable climate action. This centres on sustainably managed tree plantations and responsibly harvested wood products which not only address a growing demand for renewable materials, but also absorb and store carbon, reverse biodiversity loss and conserve shared resources.

MORE THAN 80 PER CENT OF SOUTH AFRICA’S PLANTATIONS ARE CERTIFIED BY THE FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL, AND RECENTLY, THE PROGRAMME FOR THE ENDORSEMENT OF FORESTRY CERTIFICATION WAS OPENED TO SOUTH AFRICAN TIMBER GROWERS.

IMAGES: SUPPLIED

Sustainable forestry practices reduce the industry’s impact on water, soil and ecological networks and provide a safe and healthy environment for flora and fauna, writes SAMANTHA CHOLES of the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa

Samantha Choles

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E A R T H DAY

CELEBRATING AND INVESTING IN OUR PLANET This year marks the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day. TIISETSO TLELIMA looks at the history of the movement and the impact it has made

IMAGES: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM, SUPPLIED

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eld annually on April 22, Earth Day aims to raise awareness of the need to protect the earth’s resources for future generations. “The movement was started in 1970 by global environmentalists who were concerned about the impact of chemicals such as DDT found in insecticides on the environment and public health,” explains GreenPeace Africa’s climate and energy campaigner Thandile Chinyavanhu. In its first year, more than 20 million people poured out onto the street to protest myriad issues including insecticides, air and water pollution, oil spills, toxic dumps and the extinction of wildlife. This first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and environmental laws such as the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. Two years later, a Clean Water Act was passed, and soon after, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide acts were enacted. “A group of 12 insecticides was identified, lobbied against and banned in the EU,” says Chinyavanhu. However, according to Chinyavanhu, a loophole in the international legislation still allows the export of those insecticides and pesticides to Global South countries such as South Africa and India. “This is something we continue to campaign against because surely if you recognise the public health impact it has for the people in the EU, it should apply to the Global South countries as well.”

DID YOU KNOW?

The Paris Climate Agreement was signed on Earth Day 2016 with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, reducing and slowing climate change. Source: myethicalchoice.com

GROWING PUBLIC AWARENESS AND CONSCIENCE Earth Day has grown to include a wide range of global events involving 1 billion people in more than 193 countries. It paved the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. “World leaders descended on Rio to discuss the human impact on earth, for example, how high temperatures, heavy rains and floods are created by industries pumping too much CO2 into the atmosphere,” explains Musa Chamane, waste campaigner at GroundWork. As a result, 154 countries signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted into the air. But with all the interventions made since the first Earth Day, governments and the private sector are still lagging in reducing CO2 emissions. “For the most part, it’s recognised as a necessity and something that has to be regulated, but there is still lack of political will and a pushback from business, which sees it as a barrier to success,” says Chinyavanhu.

FAST FACT

When Earth Day was first held, there were multiple different names for it, such as Environment Day, Ecology Day and Ecology Drive. It was only later that it was officially labelled Earth Day in the United States. In 1990, the UN renamed Earth Day International Mother Earth Day.

Chamane agrees, saying that there’s still resistance even from the South African government to stop using coal and switch to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydropower. Earth Day, however, is still an important day for growing the public conscience. “People need to get involved by joining movements,” says Chamane. “You can’t say it’s not your problem because rising temperatures impact everyone.” Chinyavanhu thinks the theme for this year’s Earth Day, “Investing in our Earth”, comes at a great time when Global Musa Chamane North countries have pledged R129.5-billion during COP26 to help South Africa transition to cleaner energy. “We’ve been pushing for concession of finance to be available to Global South countries so that they transition from fossil fuels to green energy or decarbonisation technology.”

EARTH DAY HAS GROWN TO INCLUDE A WIDE RANGE OF GLOBAL EVENTS INVOLVING 1 BILLION PEOPLE IN MORE THAN 193 COUNTRIES.

Thandile Chinyavanhu

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AGRICULT URE

BRAVOS FOR

LOCAL AVOS The South African avocado farming industry is booming as local demand is increasingly met by the local crop – with some serious sustainability benefits. By TREVOR CRIGHTON

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outh African avocado producers are making use of our country’s diverse climate areas to grow crops year-round, meeting the country’s demand for the superfruit. Derek Donkin, CEO of the South African Avocado Growers’ Association, explains that the planting of different cultivars with varying ripening seasons at different locations and elevations means that the harvest is spread out over 12 months. “Cultivars play a role, but geography is also important. The further north we plant, the earlier the fruit matures, with the opposite true for Derek Donkin orchards planted in the south,” he says. “The normal avocado harvest season used to run from mid-February to the beginning of October, but we’re now able to stretch that through to January.”

WATER-WISE

IMAGES: SUPPLIED

ZZ2 marketing manager Clive Garrett says that the company can produce its massive avocado crop incredibly sustainably by carefully managing the entire process from

FAST FACT

Approximately 76 per cent of global avocado production is supplied by the Americas, followed by Africa (South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique), which is responsible for 11 per cent of global production.

seed to delivery. “We have to make sure before we plant an orchard that the site is perfect for it. There must be suffi cient water available for our drip system, the right kind of soil and the ideal mix of nutrients for the cultivar we’re planting at that time. We’re also very aware of the communities around us, so we make sure that our supply is sustainable and very carefully managed.” Garrett says avocado orchards are largely and incorrectly associated with poor water management. However, water consumption is signifi cantly lower than other fruits, and irrigation is carefully managed, with avocado trees that receive too much water performing poorly. “Thanks to the large volumes of rain we received this year, we actually hardly needed to irrigate our orchards,” he says.

SUSTAINABLE FOOTPRINT Some South African retailers supplement the local avocado supply with imports from Spain or Tanzania, but since it’s entirely possible

“WATER CONSUMPTION IS SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER THAN OTHER FRUITS, AND IRRIGATION IS CAREFULLY MANAGED, WITH AVOCADO TREES THAT RECEIVE TOO MUCH WATER PERFORMING POORLY.” – CLIVE GARRETT

A IS FOR AVOCADO Due to current demand, the waiting list for a commercial avocado tree can be as long as six years, so ZZ2 has a dedicated nursery where they grow their own for internal use and external sale. The complex process, nurtured largely by hand from pip to tree, takes five to six months of careful care before the tree is ready to be planted in an orchard. The team grafting rootstock onto seeds at the ZZ2 nursery can prepare 3 000–4 000 trees per day. These mature through various processes before their stay in the three-acre netted nursery, which holds upwards of 220 000 young trees, from where they’ll head out for panting in ZZ2’s orchards or to agricultural customers.

to meet local demand with local products, it gives these imports an undesirable carbon footprint. “The carbon footprint of an imported avocado is signifi cantly higher because it obviously needs to be fl own or shipped here,” says Donkin. Garrett says South Africa exports around half of its avocados, while ZZ2 sells 70–80 per cent of its crop overseas, with 20–30 per cent going to the local market. “Of that local crop, 10–12 per cent is processed into avocado oil and pulp, used in the commercial production of guacamole.” In terms of volume, South Africa’s major competitor is Peru, but each country has its own advantages and disadvantages in supplying the global avocado demand. “What we’d like to see is government assisting us with getting into the Chinese market,” says Garrett. “It’s a much shorter, more sustainable and more environmentally friendly trip across the ocean from Cape Town to China than it is across the entire Pacifi c from Peru. The same is true of the American market – where we have a small footprint – which is much more easily accessed by Peru.” Both countries export product to Europe, but as South Africa is closer, our fruit gets there quicker.

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A CULTIVATED TASTE With a growing global population and climate crisis looming, cultivated meat may present solutions to both. ANTHONY SHARPE sizes up the entrées

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onsider for a moment that the livestock industry produces a jaw-dropping 7.2 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. That’s 14.5 per cent of humanity’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Scientists who studied 40 000 farms across 119 countries said that going vegan was the single greatest positive impact anyone could have on the planet, not just in terms of GHG, but also land and water use, acidification and eutrophication. The reason many people don’t want to go vegan is that meat is pretty tasty. We’ve evolved to process animal proteins; chomping down on a burger satisfies atavistic impulses within us. So what do we do?

FAST FACT

• Meat and dairy account for 18 per cent of calories and 37 per cent of protein, but take up 83 per cent of farmland. • Sixty per cent of agriculture’s GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions come from meat and dairy production. • Of all the land mammals on earth, 86 per cent are either livestock or humans. • Beef produces up to 105kg of GHG per 100g of protein. Tofu produces 3.5kg. Source: Science

ENTER CULTIVATED MEAT Back in 2013, a team of Dutch scientists led by Mark Post and Peter Verstrate created the world’s first cultured meat hamburger. It didn’t taste amazing, but it was meat. The bigger problem was that it cost R4.9-million. Post and Verstrate went on to found food technology company Mosa Meat, which has been working tirelessly to improve the taste and texture while edging the price below that of an Italian sportscar. And a lot of start-ups have followed in their footsteps. “The purpose of the hamburger we unveiled in 2013 was to show the science is actually possible,” says Mosa Meat CEO Maarten Bosch. “But the product wasn’t yet perfected, and it was very expensive to produce. Since then, nearly 100 companies around the world have started working on making cultivated meat products.”

”WE WANT TO CREATE SOMETHING THAT IS EXACTLY LIKE CONVENTIONAL MEAT IN EVERY WAY, BUT ALSO HAPPENS TO BE CRUELTY-FREE, BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND COULD POTENTIALLY AID FOOD SECURITY IN AFRICA.” – BRETT THOMPSON 52

THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF BEEF One company innovating a lot closer to home is Mzansi Meat Co. Founded in 2020, the company is pursuing the same goal as Mosa Meat, albeit from its headquarters in Cape Town. Despite being a long-time (not to mention professional) animal advocate, co-founder and CEO Brett Thompson is clear from the outset that Mzansi Meat Co is just that: a meat company. “We believe that meat plays a part in South African culture that plant-based alternatives might not be able to fill. We want to create something that is exactly like conventional meat in every way, but also happens to be cruelty-free, better for the environment and could potentially aid food security in Africa.”

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AGRICULT URE

Creating such a product involves four key components: cell lines from animals; media in which to grow those cells; the scaffolding the cells are attached to in the media; and a fermenter/bioreactor where the magic happens. Thompson says isolating the right cells involves a single biopsy from an animal. “We’ve taken cells from an adult animal in Greyton. You can also take stem cells from the umbilical cord of a newly born calf, which is the least intrusive.” Then comes the question of what those cells can become – fat, muscle, hair, tissue and so forth. Thompson says they only isolate for fat and muscle. “When you feed these cells the right nutrients, or media, then you can start the process of differentiation.” This process needs to happen in what Thompson calls “Goldilocks conditions”. “Cows’ bodies have been doing this for hundreds of thousands of years; we’re trying to replicate that.” Those conditions are created in the bioreactor, says Thompson. “We keep it at 37°C, add amino acids, fats, salts, different growth factors, to ensure those cells are in the same conditions that they’ve come from. Then they start replicating naturally.” Of course, to turn into something that looks like meat, those cells need something to attach to, which is where the scaffold comes in. “A scaffold is used to grow muscle and fat in three dimensions, the way it would in a body. We use a few different scaffolds, one derived from corn and another from mycelium. “Once that’s done, at scale, we’d look to harvest every three or four weeks. That’s a lot quicker and more efficient than conventional animal husbandry.”

YOU DID WHAT TO A COW FOETUS?

IMAGES: SUPPLIED

Cruelty- and death-free steak, burgers without the burden on your conscience … sounds almost too good to be true, right? It is – for now. That’s because the media used to feed cells is something called foetal bovine serum (FBS). This is extracted from the foetuses of pregnant cows led to slaughter. The foetuses are kept alive artificially to siphon off as much fresh blood as possible before they die (yes, it’s as horrifying as it sounds). Estimates on the number of foetuses needed to create a burger range from 90 to 333, which seems like 90 to 333 too many to call anything cruelty-free. It’s also insanely expensive. This is why it’s a good thing that some incredibly smart people at Mosa Meat have solved this conundrum while reducing the cost of their cell feed by 80 per cent. “It is not sustainable to use FBS in meat cultivation from both an animal welfare and cost perspective,” says Bosch.

DID YOU KNOW?

At a blind tasting held by Tel Aviv-based start-up SuperMeat in January, famed Israeli gastronome and professional taster Michal Ansky conducted the world’s first blind tasting to distinguish between cultivated and traditionally reared chicken. She confidently chose sample A, declaring it had a richer flavour. Sample A was grown in a lab, just metres from where she was sitting. Source: Time

“We’ve developed a cell feed containing ingredients that trigger the growth of cells without the use of FBS. We identified these triggers using a process called RNA sequencing.” More incredibly, the company shared a peer-reviewed publication that reveals exactly how they did it, effectively making the process open source – with the caveat of a commercial patent. “We think it’s important to share this information as it can be useful for academics working in the field, and we want to see the entire field of cellular agriculture succeed,” says Bosch. “We have made significant investments in developing cellular agriculture technologies, and a patent helps us build a healthy company by protecting the commercial use of our technology for a limited number of years.” Thompson says Mzansi Meat Co is working with local biotech companies to eliminate the use of FBS.

ARE WE THERE YET? Of course, there’s a lot more to putting cultivated meat on plates than what happens in the lab. First of all, this is relatively uncharted

“TO FUNDAMENTALLY RESHAPE THE GLOBAL FOOD SYSTEM AND FEED A GROWING POPULATION, WE NEED TO BUILD THE ENTIRE CELLULAR AGRICULTURE ECOSYSTEM.” – MAARTEN BOSCH

territory for regulators. “Regulation is probably the first question posed every time we speak to investors,” says Thompson. “Will governments be in favour, neutral or antagonistic?” He sees hope, however, pointing to the rapid timeline from Mosa Meat’s historic burger in 2013 to the first cultivated meat product (from a company called Just Meat) sold in a Singaporean restaurant in 2020, with regulatory approval. “That sent shockwaves through what is still a very young industry.” Thompson says the US Department of Agriculture, which has slowed the progress of development, is starting to come around. “In South Africa, we’ve been working with policymakers from day one, and we’re optimistic about our ability to bring a product to market. We’re hoping to go live with our first burger in April 2022.” Encouragingly, a study conducted by the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University and the Credence Institute in Stellenbosch found a high interest in both plant-based and cultivated meat among South Africans. The greatest challenge facing the industry, says Bosch, is scaling up processes while bringing down costs. But beyond that, there’s also an entire agricultural ecosystem to consider. “To fundamentally reshape the global food system and feed a growing population, we need to build the entire cellular agriculture ecosystem. This includes setting up an entirely new supply chain, collaboration between public and private actors, and innovation across the value chain.”

FAST FACT

The cost of producing cultivated meat has dropped by 99 per cent in a decade. If costs continue to decrease at the same rate as those of human genome sequencing, it could reach price parity with conventional meat by 2030. Source: McKinsey & Company

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PH A RM ACEU T ICA L S

WHAT ABOUT PACKAGING? What happens to the packaging of your medicine after use? Cipla has implemented a drive to make inserts available via QR code to minimise paper waste, and is encouraging users to recycle asthma inhalers. Meanwhile, Shabeer Jhetam, CEO of The Glass Recycling Company, says all pharma companies that place more than 10 tonnes per category of paper and packaging on the South African market are mandated to comply with recently promulgated extended producer responsibility regulations. All glass pill and liquid medicine bottles can be recycled when empty, he adds.

A BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW The box of pills in your medicine cabinet may be exacting a higher toll on the environment than the car parked in your garage, as LISA WITEPSKI discovers

IMAGES: SUPPLIED

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anufacturing as a whole has a dubious reputation when it comes to the environment, and pharmaceutical manufacturing is no exception. According to a 2021 article by the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering, “the global pharmaceutical industry … produces 13 per cent more carbon emissions making medicines than car manufacturers do while assembling their vehicles – despite having a market that is 28 per cent smaller”. Bada Pharasi, CEO of the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa, says the industry is aware of the problem. “This is why the biopharma industry is investing in research and development around greener products, as well as more sustainable production and distribution practices to enable us to deliver medical innovation in ways that protect and support the environment.” Pharasi adds that member companies are working on initiatives to reduce carbon emissions across their operations and value chains, invest in renewable electricity and energy-efficiency measures, recycle, and cut water use. He says that a significant number of the largest innovative companies (all members of the International Federation of

Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations) have set net-zero or carbon-neutrality targets. Many more have committed to ambitious short-term greenhouse gas emissions-reduction efforts. “Whatever measures are applied globally would also be adopted locally. Association members that do any level of manufacturing in South Africa apply the good manufacturing practices in application globally by their principals.” Companies are furthermore subject to extended producer responsibility regulations around waste management.

A CASE IN POINT Cipla South Africa’s drive towards sustainability includes goals like becoming carbon- and water-neutral, with zero waste to landfill, by 2025. Paul Miller, CEO of Cipla South Africa, says that by 2030 the company aims to be carbon- and water-positive. Achieving these goals starts with steps such as including more renewable sources in the energy mix, explains Miller. Currently, these account for 15 per cent, and plans are to finish 2025 with 34 per cent of energy generated by wind and solar sources at Cipla’s 45 sites across Africa and Europe. The company has

also reviewed its fuel sources and, having replaced 5 per cent of these with biofuels, has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 41 per cent. Other actions include attempts to reduce and, where possible, eliminate the use of hazardous solvents, and to incorporate the waste generated during the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in the final product. These processes will be under the spotlight at Cipla’s new facility under construction at Durban’s Dube Trade Port. The company is focusing on features that may minimise waste while limiting energy consumption. For example, a continuous water recycling loop means that “no drop of water entering the premises will leave Paul Miller it, because it will be harvested,” Miller explains. This has significant implications for minimising pollution and effluent run-off, which can impact biodiversity. “If our water doesn’t leave our system, it can’t affect the external ecosystem,” Miller says. Incipient bulking, which affects how APIs are blended, plays a role here too. Finally, the company is swapping batch manufacturing, which requires enormous volumes of water to wash machinery between batches, for continuous production, which also reduces carbon footprint by 80 per cent, thanks to reduced energy consumption.

“THE BIOPHARMA INDUSTRY IS INVESTING IN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AROUND GREENER PRODUCTS, AS WELL AS MORE SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION PRACTICES TO ENABLE US TO DELIVER MEDICAL INNOVATION IN WAYS THAT PROTECT AND SUPPORT THE ENVIRONMENT.” – BADA PHARASI

Bada Pharasi

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P OL L U T ION

FAST FACT

An E.coli count of just 400/100ml indicates a high risk of gastrointestinal disorders with symptoms including skin irritations, infections and intestinal disorders. According to the World Health Organization, a zero E.coli per 100 ml of water is considered safe for drinking.

A RIVER OF

RAW SEWAGE RUNS THROUGH IT Raw sewage continues to flow into the Vaal River as activists push for change, writes NIA MAGOULIANITI-MCGREGOR

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ith 19 million people dependent on the Vaal River – either for drinking, domestic or commercial use – last year’s South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report, which pronounced it polluted beyond “acceptable levels”, described the situation as a human rights issue. The report found that “kilolitres” of untreated sewage flow into the Vaal as a result of “dilapidated and inoperative” wastewater treatment plants unable to process raw sewage, mainly in the Emfuleni Municipality. The situation is serious, says Maureen Stewart, vice chairperson of Save the Vaal Environment. She says as a result of a lack of a sense of urgency on the part of local, provincial and national government, E.coli levels in one sampling point reached about 2 million/100ml. Even 400/100ml is considered unhealthy. “People are experiencing gastric disturbances and skin infections, fish are dying, and in those areas near Parys where people are being baptised in the water, it’s especially dangerous.”

TURNING TO THE COURTS The raw or partially treated sewage that flows from Emfuleni Local Council’s wastewater treatment system impacts the Vaal River between Vereeniging, the Vaal Barrage and beyond. A year since the SAHRC report, 1 600km of pipes are still leaking or collapsed due to poor maintenance, and 44 pump stations remain dysfunctional, as do the three wastewater treatment plants, mainly due to “lack of investment, mismanagement and incompetence”. “Emfuleni Municipality has been taken to court several times in an attempt to get it to obey the law, but it hasn’t complied with court orders,” says Stewart. “We’ve been fighting for a long time, and it’s been a hard road. By invoking section 63 of the Water Services Act, previous Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu laid the groundwork for national government to take over the maintenance of Emfuleni’s wastewater system. Subsequently, Minister Senzo Mchunu has taken over, and the process has virtually had to restart.”

“PEOPLE ARE EXPERIENCING GASTRIC DISTURBANCES AND SKIN INFECTIONS, FISH ARE DYING, AND IN THOSE AREAS NEAR PARYS WHERE PEOPLE ARE BEING BAPTISED IN THE WATER, IT’S ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS.” – MAUREEN STEWART 56

Stewart adds that Rand Water has been appointed implementing agent to operate and maintain pipes. “But there’s not enough funding. So far R100-million has been allocated for repairs to the network, but to get it all working at optimum levels will take R1-billion.” So it’s back to court for activists “to help bind authorities to provide plans, funding sources and timelines,” says Stewart. “We have good legislation in place, but it’s not implemented.”

ENFORCEMENT IS NEEDED Dr Anthony Turton of the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State says implementation is urgent. “The presence of water lettuce and water hyacinth on the water is an indication that the aquatic ecosystem is eutrophic.” This means it carries elevated nutrients, which damage water quality. A byproduct is a toxic molecule known as microcystin, related to neurological disorders. Turton says Hartebeespoort Dam is a prime example of this degeneration, with “the best scientists in the country unable to restore ecological integrity”. He says: “The way Maureen Stewart forward to reduce the nutrient levels in the Vaal is by rigorously applying effluent standards.” Turton is part of the South African Water Chamber, “a solutions-driven organisation engaging government to plug the Companies Act into the municipal sphere so people can be held responsible for noncompliance”. Stewart says there is a workable plan to fix the system, but this plan needs full funding to be translated into action. “We’ve seen too many Powerpoint presentations.” The Water Research Council’s Wandile Nomquphu agrees. “As a government agency, we’ve recommended national government police the process so that municipalities are forced to purify water to acceptable standards. It’s about time for enforcement.”

DID YOU KNOW?

The Emfuleni local municipality’s three wastewater treatment plants have the capacity to treat over 200 million litres of sewage per day if fully operational.

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P OL L U T ION

A CASE OF DEADLY AIR The air residents in parts of Mpumalanga and Gauteng are breathing is not cool, writes DENISE MHLANGA

Mpumalanga air pollution

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reenpeace data for 2018 reveals that Mpumalanga, where most of South Africa’s coal is mined, was one of the world’s largest hotspots for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a dangerous air pollutant that causes respiratory symptoms and lung damage on acute exposure, thus increasing the risk of chronic diseases. In 2007, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries declared the Highveld Priority Area (HPA), covering parts of Mpumalanga and Gauteng, an area of concern. The government acknowledged that residents were breathing air that was harmful to their health and wellbeing. Based on its 2018 State of the Air Report in the court papers, this reality continues to exist, says Timothy Lloyd, attorney for the Centre for Environmental Rights. In June 2019, after years of advocacy, groundWork and the Vukani Environmental Movement, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, took the government to court, claiming violation of section 24(a) of the Constitution in what has become known as the Deadly Air case. Lloyd explains that following the virtual court hearings in the Pretoria High Court on May 17 to 18 2021, on March 18 2022,

judgment was handed down with the High Court recognising the poor air quality in South Africa’s Mpumalanga Highveld region as a breach of residents’ constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and wellbeing. The Minister of Environmental Affairs has 12 months to prepare, initiate, prescribe regulations and implement and enforce the Highveld Plan. “This victory in the High Court is not only a vindication of the constitutional environmental rights of the groups who brought this case, but importantly, this landmark judgment also recognises the incredible determination and bravery of the individuals who provided testimony about the dire impact that air pollution has, not only on their daily lives, but also on their young children,” says Lloyd. He says this is a landmark case, and to their knowledge, no African state has ever been declared in breach of an environmental constitutional right due to the impacts of air pollution.

SETTING A PRECEDENT Lloyd said the Deadly Air case could set an important precedent for the application of section 24(a) as a stand-alone right immediately

THE GOVERNMENT ACKNOWLEDGED THAT RESIDENTS WERE BREATHING AIR THAT WAS HARMFUL TO THEIR HEALTH AND WELLBEING.

DID YOU KNOW?

• Emissions from the 12 coal-fired power plants, a coal-to-liquid plant and a refinery located in and around the Highveld Priority Area (HPA) accounted for between 305 and 650 early deaths in 2016, according to the expert evidence represented in the Deadly Air court papers. • Power generation and mining activities are the two biggest contributors of SO2 (sulphur dioxide), PM10 (particulate matter) and NOx (nitrogen oxide) in the HPA, according to the Deadly Air case expert evidence. realised by all people living in South Africa. It clarifies the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries’ duty to exercise statutory power in protecting section 24(a) rights. The precedent should set constitutional parameters for subsequent atmospheric emission licence renewal, or compliance postponement applications submitted by large polluters in the Highveld Priority Area. Since the promulgation of the Air Quality Act (AQA) in 2004, government has published various regulations, listing notices, priority declarations, plans and strategies related to air quality management. “At the heart of the Deadly Air case is whether or not these actions have been properly implemented and enforced to achieve the objects of the AQA and the 2012 Air Quality Management Plans (AQMP) developed for the HPA to protect section 24(a) of the Constitution,” points out Lloyd. He says the AQMP and an expert modelling study in the court papers demonstrate that Eskom’s 12 coal-fired power stations are the largest contributors of two of the harmful pollutants in question.

A LONGSTANDING PROBLEM Eskom was mandated to reduce and improve its detrimental air pollution profile as far back as 2010. However, the power utility is trapped in its attempts to maintain an oversized coal power fleet that still fails to deliver reliable electricity, says Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. “Refurbishing part of the fleet to operate reliably and with proper air pollutant emissions controls, while retiring other plants and freeing up cash, is the best possible solution.” In October 2021, Myllyvirta found that Eskom had become the largest emitter of health-harming sulphur dioxide globally. These emissions contribute to high levels of ambient air pollution and are responsible for approximately 2 200 deaths annually, according to a study by air pollution expert Mike Holland.

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P OL L U T ION

An employee of Green Spot Recycling in Franschhoek adds a bag of recyclable PET bottles to the pile.

FAST FACT

• The Western Cape Integrated Waste Management Plan reveals that more than 90 per cent of general waste ends up at waste disposal facilities and less than 10 per cent is recycled. • In 2015, the Western Cape generated more than 7.7 million tonnes of waste, according to the Waste 2020 Market Intelligence Report produced by GreenCape.

NO ROOM AT THE LANDFILL

FOR ORGANIC WASTE Citizens of the Western Cape are being urged to find alternative means for the disposal of organic waste to reduce pressure on landfills and prevent possible health and environmental harm, writes DENISE MHLANGA

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verflowing landfills and scarcity of available land for new sites across the country have prompted the Western Cape Government to implement restrictions on organic waste going to landfills. The Western Cape Integrated Waste Management Plan aims to reduce organic waste going to landfills by 50 per cent in 2022 and 100 per cent in 2027. Saliem Haider, director of waste management at the Department of Environmental Affairs in the Western Cape, says edible organics and lack of access control at landfills create potential health risks for many poor communities who may see this waste as a source of food. “It also contaminates groundwater, so expensive containment barriers must be used at our landfill sites as a preventative measure.” Haider explains that in the absence of free oxygen, organic waste decomposes when landfilled, generating methane (59 per cent) and CO2 (36 per cent), with the balance comprising other compounds. Methane and CO2 are greenhouse gases that promote global warming and have a negative effect on climate change. “Composting of organic materials in a controlled environment adds nutritional value to the soil, hence the diversion of organic waste is important,” he adds.

WASTE DIVERSION Haider says all landfill license holders are required to divert 50 per cent by 2022 and 100 per cent by 2027. The Department of Environmental Affairs has developed a Model Integrated Waste Management Bylaw with provisions for organic waste diversion, and municipalities have been compelled to draft and submit their Organic Waste Diversion Plans to the department for review. “We encourage municipalities either to amend existing waste bylaws to include these provisions or to adopt this model bylaw in its entirety. It will provide municipalities with provisions to direct large waste generators and citizens to comply with relevant organic waste diversion strategies and plans,” says Haider. Alderman Grant Twigg, mayoral committee member for urban waste management at the City of Cape Town, says organic food waste should be

“EDIBLE ORGANICS AND LACK OF ACCESS CONTROL AT LANDFILLS CREATE POTENTIAL HEALTH RISKS FOR MANY POOR COMMUNITIES WHO MAY SEE THIS WASTE AS A SOURCE OF FOOD.” – SALIEM HAIDER 58

well separated and diverted from landfills. “Home or community composting is the most effective method, as it improves soil quality for gardening and increases the productivity of community food gardens. The city is currently exploring various options related to such community-based organic food waste composting.” To stop 50 per cent of organic waste from ending up in landfills, the City of Cape Town is aggressively promoting home composting and ongoing chipping of garden greens.

INNOVATIVE OPTIONS Numerous trial options are being tested for viability on how to divert food waste from landfill. The recently launched community-based Recycle Swop Shop programme, where residents swap their recyclables for commodities in the Swop Shop Trailer, forms part of the trials, says Twigg. “Waste management is a shared responsibility: the government must pave the way, but residents and businesses need to play their part.” Residents and hospitality establishments can reduce what they buy and cook. In future, residents will be encouraged to use other facilities or services offered by the city for the disposal of food waste and to participate in the city’s various waste management trials. Cape Town residents are currently offered a separate collection service for dry recyclables in various areas where the programme was initially economically viable. Twigg says planning is in progress for the development of new materials recovery facilities to provide capacity to sort the recyclables at scale. PETCO marketing officer Kara Levy says waste collectors and pickers are an integral part of the waste-management system and save municipalities huge amounts of money in landfill space annually. A lot of it ultimately Grant Twigg comes down to what people do at home, though. Residents who sort out their trash and leave their recyclables for collection are not only helping to manage waste, but also enabling these collectors and pickers to earn income.

IMAGES: SUPPLIED, DAYLIN PAUL FOR THE CENTRE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS.

A collector from African Reclaimers Organisation takes recyclables put out by households in Bordeaux, Johannesburg.

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Published in October 2022 To advertise in the upcoming issue of Energy, please contact: Gavin Payne Sales Project Manager Tel: +27(0) 21 469 2477 Cell: +27 74 031 9774 Email: gavinp@picasso.co.za

ENERGY PUBLISHER

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A DV ER T ORI A L S A PPI

sites of important conservation significance and seven natural reserves, including indigenous forests and wetlands, on our forestry land.

SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVES

Trees: standing tall, towering above man and beast, they are invaluable to earth and its beings, providing us with food, shelter, heat, energy, textiles, medicine and the very air that we breathe.

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hese giants are truly the superheroes of nature. It is no wonder that we are emotionally moved when we hear how careless actions by humans needlessly deplete these magnifi cent specimens. So, when Sappi proudly states that it is extracting the full potential of each tree it grows, it does so from a place of deep respect for the natural wonder and the myriad solutions that trees provide to many of the challenges we face in our conflicted planet. These trees have been grown specifically for this purpose and each year, Sappi plants more trees than it harvests. The very nature of our business – growing trees and using renewable woodfibre to produce an array of everyday materials – speaks directly to the principles of a green economy, which aims at reducing environmental risks and ecological

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scarcities, striving for sustainable development without degrading the environment. It is why we boldly state that we exist to build a thriving world by unlocking the power of renewable resources. We believe that by evolving to a low-carbon, resource-efficient, and socially inclusive economy, we are benefitting people, communities and the planet. The wood that comes from the trees grown on our land for our manufacturing processes in South Africa boasts a string of impressive letters indicating that they are dual-certified for sustainable forestry management by two independent international organisations.Added to this is the fact that our hearts are in it as well. About 136 000 hectares or a third of our land is set aside to conserve the natural habitat and biodiversity there, providing havens for 160

2021 Sappi Group Sustainability Report

➔ Scan this QR code to go directly to the Sappi website.

For more information: www.sappi.com

IMAGES: SUPPLIED

SALUTING TREES – OUR SUPERHEROES IN NATURE

With consumers becoming increasingly eco-conscious and rethinking their packaging needs, pressure is being applied to brand owners to find paper-based packaging solutions for their products. Using that biodegradable, recyclable and compostable paper bag or cardboard box is just one example of how our woodfibre-based products provide sustainable alternatives for fossil-fuel-based products. You can also rest easier the next time you slip on that viscose garment, knowing that your fashion choices are also at the forefront of where sustainability and innovation intersect and where Sappi Verve – our market-leading dissolving pulp brand – is born. Besides the textile industry, it is also a sought-after raw material for use in pharmaceutical, food and industrial applications. And, true to our promise of using the whole tree, we are also making new strides in the bioproducts field and growing as a key player in the lignosulphonate markets. As we move away from the ‘take, make, dispose’ model of production to a more regenerative economic system aimed at minimising waste and making the most of scarce resources, we know that we are ideally placed to meet the needs and expectations of our changing markets with agility. We understand that for each action there is a reaction and whatever we do has an impact on the environment. As responsible citizens of this planet, we take actions to mitigate these impacts and it is why we have prioritised 9 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the way we do business, with the belief that in doing so we can help achieve a more sustainable present and future – a thriving world. And that benefits all of us.

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T HOUGH T L E A DERSHIP

SOUTH AFRICA’S PAPER

HAS SUSTAINABILITY AT ITS CORE When it comes to recycling and recovery, South Africa’s paper industry can hold its head high, but there is so much more to be done, writes JANE MOLONY, acting CEO, Fibre Circle

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ot only has the South African paper industry been recycling paper since 1920, but it’s also been ahead of the circular economy curve for well on a century. The circular economy is a closed loop of taking, making and reusing materials – as opposed to a linear “take-make-waste” approach – and South Africa not only grows trees for fuel, fibre, housing and the like, but also does so in accordance with global best practice from a sustainability point of view, all while protecting the country’s natural forests. Over the past 10 years, more than 12 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging have been recovered and kept out of South African landfills, the bales of which would go around the earth. 1.5 times. So it’s little wonder that we have an average paper recovery rate of 70 per cent, making paper the second-most recovered material in South Africa. This success is largely attributable to industry-driven initiatives, household and community paper pick-up programmes, conscientious citizens and a thriving network of small and medium recycling enterprises and informal waste collectors. South Africa is also in the enviable position of being able to use up to 90 per cent of its recovered paper locally, making it into paper packaging and tissue products for local use and export markets, and serving the agricultural, manufacturing and retail sectors. By comparison, a country like Sweden has high collection rates, but only recycles 11 per cent; the majority feeds waste-to-energy plants.

GOOD STEWARDSHIP, BETTER WASTE MANAGEMENT

IMAGES: SUPPLIED

Despite being well above the global paper recycling rate of 59.1 per cent, however, South Africa has a lot of work to do to improve how we treat waste. The lack of mandatory separation-at-source programmes, inadequate service delivery and municipal waste management, illegal dumping, and poor consumer behaviour around litter and recycling sees our landfills expiring and our streets, rivers and seas clogged with pollution. Mechanisms such as extended producer responsibility (EPR), as mandated by government in November 2021, require producers of paper, packaging and some single-use products, lighting and electrical and electronic equipment to manage the end-of-life of their products. The aim is to divert waste from landfills and increase recovery, recycling and reuse of materials. Producers will need to pay a predetermined fee per tonne of product or packaging placed on the market. These fees account for the implementation of service fees to waste pickers, collection and recycling incentives and training and awareness programmes, as well as enterprise development, infrastructure expansion and municipal collaboration – all aimed at reaching recycling targets as set by the regulations.

OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS, MORE THAN 12 MILLION TONNES OF PAPER AND PAPER PACKAGING HAVE BEEN RECOVERED AND KEPT OUT OF SOUTH AFRICAN LANDFILLS, THE BALES OF WHICH WOULD GO AROUND THE EARTH 1.5 TIMES.

While it’s no silver bullet, these regulations – along with industry collaboration – will go a long way in addressing these ills. From placing pressure on producers to design goods and packaging with recycling and end-of-life in mind, to making sure that their products do not end up on a rubbish heap, EPR is about good stewardship, resource efficiency and working toward a functioning waste economy with people and small business as its focus. Training and enterprise development is also very much part of the paper sector’s EPR plans, as submitted by Fibre Circle, the producer responsibility organisation for the paper and paper packaging sector, to government in November 2021. This will be an extension of the Entrepreneurship Training Programme, initiated by the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa in 2010, that has enhanced the knowledge of 9 010 recycling collectors and improved their respective businesses. For the South African waste economy and enterprise development, it’s quite literally fertile ground. Take the example of Boombadotmobi, a winner in 2021 WasteAid Zero Waste Cities Challenge and a waste management company working in township areas of Diepsloot, Johannesburg, to eradicate illegal dumping through organised and functioning material recovery facilities. Boombadotmobi also collects organic waste from the community to transform it into compost using black soldier fly composting, vermicomposting, and heat composting. The team then sells the quality compost product back to local farmers and their community. Backed by the financial support and technical expertise of industry, it’s smart ideas from ordinary people that will change the game. But it’s a long game, and we need to play together to win. For the sake of our economy and our planet.

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2022/04/11 10:43 AM




T HOUGH T L E A DERSHIP

through waste can power the country KATE STUBBS, marketing director at Interwaste, discusses how South Africa can optimise waste to help alleviate the energy crisis

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n February’s State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa placed a strong focus on opening the energy spectrum and amending the Electricity Regulation Act to create a more competitive market. And while there is much talk about renewable energy such as wind and solar, not much has been said on how effective waste management can play a fundamental role in supporting this objective. Taking circular economy thinking into account, waste reuse and repurposing are fundamental to meeting these objectives, addressing environmental impact, and meeting growing environmental, social and governance targets. Kate Stubbs From a global perspective, the waste-to-energy market is expected to grow from R414.7-billion in 2017 to almost R628-billion, according to Statista’s market value projection, representing a large economic opportunity to establish new industries and/or revenue streams too. Bringing this into the local context, there are economic, environmental and capacity

opportunities if done correctly and made more readily available. It’s not surprising then that the waste-to-energy agenda in South Africa – and Africa for that matter – is one of the most prominent aspects at the forefront of waste management leadership today. So how does it work, and how can we optimise waste to benefit the broader energy spectrum? In South Africa, we generate about 122 million tonnes of waste per annum, with 90 per cent of it disposed of in landfills. Much of this waste, if managed effectively, could be reused as alternative resources in our economy. Waste-to-energy solutions offer a wide range of scalable options for processing waste, which could contribute significantly to solving our energy crisis while alleviating pressure on our natural resources and ecosystems.

THE RIGHT PROCESS FOR THE RIGHT WASTE Converting waste to energy occurs through three key processes: thermal, biological and physical. For each process, there are a variety of technologies available to convert different types of waste to energy, such as electricity, steam or gas. Examples of thermal destruction solutions include direct combustion for energy recovery, pyrolysis and gasification. A large variety of

WE NEED EDUCATION AND AWARENESS, INVESTMENT IN WASTE INNOVATION, SUPPORTIVE POLICY AND INFRASTRUCTURE, AND CRITICALLY, WE NEED COMMITMENT TO A GREENER FUTURE IF WE HOPE TO REALISE THE POTENTIAL OF WASTE TO ENERGY LOCALLY. 66

SHIFT FROM LINEAR TO CIRCULAR Waste is a universal issue as it presents much broader challenges that not only affect human health and livelihood, but also the environment and ultimately the economy. It is therefore important that we shift our thinking and approach to managing waste from a linear process (take, make, dispose) towards a more circular model whereby waste is designed out of the value chain from the onset and any waste produced is repurposed, recycled or reused, with disposal being the last option. The reality is that there are many solutions that can drive this agenda. However, to mitigate high transport costs, the cost of scalability, technology investment, operations and processing – as well as securing relevant offtakes to sell the power too – we need a high level of industry and government symbiosis and collaboration. We need education and awareness, investment in waste innovation, supportive policy and infrastructure, and critically, we need commitment to a greener future if we hope to realise the potential of waste to energy locally. However, the good news is that legislation drives such interest in new projects. And, as government mandates towards waste and energy become more diverse, more opportunities arise for the uptake of alternative waste to energy projects. This represents a win-win for all: the producers, the waste managers, government and South African citizens.

Forecast waste-to-energy market from 2019 to 2027

IMAGES: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM, SUPPLIED

How industry symbiosis

waste types, from municipal solid wastes to high hazardous waste, can be processed through direct combustion. Typical wastes used in pyrolysis include tyres, rubber and some plastics. Gasification feedstocks include biomass, refuse-derived fuels and some municipal waste streams. Biological technologies focus on processing putrescible, organic waste such as food, sewage sludge, animal carcasses and agricultural waste. The processes include anaerobic digestion, fermentation for the production of bioethanol, and landfill gas extraction and utilisation. Certain types of nonrecyclable solid or liquid wastes that have a calorific value can be physically processed to create a refuse-derived fuel that can be used as a replacement for fossil fuels.

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2022/04/11 10:38 AM


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A DV ER T ORI A L OMNI A

OMNIA’S GREEN AGRICULTURE SOLUTIONS SECURE FOOD SUPPLY

Omnia’s innovations enhance crop yields

With a strong focus on ensuring a sustainable nutritious supply of food, the Omnia Group constantly innovates to provide products that improve crop quality, boost yields and help farmers engage in greener farm practices

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laying an enabling role in securing an adequate and nutritious supply of food to support a rapidly growing population has remained a foundational focus for the Omnia Group since its inception almost seven decades ago. This imperative has required a future-focused approach – one that empowers farmers and prioritises the growth of resilient food systems through Omnia Agriculture’s value propositions across more than ten markets.

PRECISION SOLUTIONS Omnia’s agriculture marketing director Louis Strydom says: “Today, Omnia is recognised for its holistic approach in supporting customer needs. We achieve this through access to expertise such as agronomists, research and development (R&D) facilities and laboratories.

We also deliver science-driven technologies that allow for precision soil health analysis, resulting in reduced inputs for water, fertilizer and other nutrients.” According to him, these innovations prioritise efficacy, crop quality and enhanced yields, emphasising sustainability for the benefit of the entire agriculture value chain. His comments are supported by his colleague, Mandla Mpofu, responsible for Omnia’s SADC markets. “Our purpose of sustaining livelihoods drives our passion to see things grow. This is the motivation behind Omnia Nutriology®, our innovative approach to agriculture that is rooted in the science of growing. Guided by our ‘feet on the farm’ practices, we collaborate with and empower over one million farmers across SADC. Through access to our expertise and quality inputs, we help enhance crop yield profitability and thus support food security. In Zambia, this translates

“OMNIA IS RECOGNISED FOR ITS HOLISTIC APPROACH IN SUPPORTING CUSTOMER NEEDS. WE ACHIEVE THIS THROUGH ACCESS TO EXPERTISE SUCH AS AGRONOMISTS, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (R&D) FACILITIES AND LABORATORIES.” 68

to some emerging farmers increasing their yield by as much as 500 per cent.”

HEALTHY FOUNDATIONS With good soil health being a key challenge for every farmer worldwide, Omnia is at the forefront of providing pioneering solutions with wide applicability. Omnia Australia is a leader in the production of K-humate products – a rich, humic-based soil conditioner and biostimulant that has a positive impact on both soil and plant health. Humic acids are naturally derived from the breakdown of plant and microbial matter, which form the foundation of all fertile soils. They enhance nutrient efficacy and significantly reduce leeching, waste and nitrogen emissions. K-humate thus has the potential to further improve farmer yields, the quality of produce, profits and business competitiveness by: • increasing fertilizer efficiency • improving water holding capacity • bolstering the penetration and retention of calcium in the soil • enhancing good soil structure and fertility.

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OMNI A A DV ER T ORI A L

“We continue to expand access to our K-humate products, exporting humic acid coatings to countries with poor soil environments – exacerbated by dry conditions, scarce irrigation sources and old soil – in East Africa, SADC and South America. Our offerings continue to play a major role in bolstering macadamia production in Mozambique, and in the Kenyan avocado, wheat and soybean markets,” says James Freemantle, managing director at Omnia Specialities Australia.

LEVERAGING SCIENCE With the recognition and demand for greener and more sustainable agri-solutions rapidly growing, Omnia continues to leverage its talent and R&D capabilities to consistently evolve its value proposition. The business remains invested in augmenting products, services and expertise to ensure responsive solutions. “In 2021, we put R17-million behind R&D efforts to create scientifically-driven and environmentally efficient solutions. We are also developing a full Agribio hub with organic fulvates and kelp (seaweed) products as well as bacterias and fungi. Our Agribio products are playing a vital role in enabling the regeneration capabilities of soil fertility, for the benefit of communities and economies. Beyond this, our R&D strategy is focused on humic acid derivatives to appeal to more industries, such as liquid fertilizers,” continues Freemantle.

IMAGES: SUPPLIED

SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS FOR ENDURING VALUE Sustainability is deeply embedded in Omnia’s business growth and stakeholder value strategy. The business has adopted a holistic approach to environmental, social and governance imperatives throughout its agriculture value chain. In addition to the products and services that enable farmers to engage in greener farming practices, Omnia has also structured its supplier selection processes in a way that empowers and develops local suppliers. The business has set prerequisites for recycled materials within its supplier selection processes, ensuring it partners with businesses that align with its sustainability principles. “We hold ourselves to a high standard, aligning our business strategy to our sustainability and environmental agenda. Reducing our carbon footprint throughout the group is a key consideration in how we do business,” says Mpofu. Omnia’s supply chain journey exemplifi es this. In the past year, the group has diversifi ed its transport utilisation to include rail into the SADC region. Omnia’s rail service’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are signifi cantly lower than other forms of transport. Between 2020 and 2021, Omnia’s GHG emissions reduced by more than 363 091 tonnes. This reduction is equivalent to the annual emissions of about 79 000 vehicles.

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Good soil health is a key challenge for every farmer worldwide.

PURPOSEFUL AND PRINCIPLED Omnia’s holistic approach to agriculture reflects the principled way the group conducts business. Mpofu adds: “We embed sustainability throughout our product value chain, offering solutions centred around bolstering the efficiency of our products, enhancing outcomes and profitability for customers and partners, reducing environmental impact and helping secure food supply across the markets we serve.” “South Africa is a producer of quality products for demanding international markets where there is a strong push for environmentally friendly products. Omnia ensures farmers do the right things at the right times, using the right products,” concludes Strydom.

ABOUT OMNIA Established nearly 70 years ago, Omnia is based in South Africa and listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Operating across 25 countries, Omnia is expanding its presence across SADC, North America, Canada, Brazil and Australasia. Internationally recognised for innovative research and development, Omnia differentiates itself based on its supply chain and manufacturing capabilities, as well as its specialised customer solutions that are accessible to clients in the agriculture, mining, water, consumer care, food and pharmaceutical, coatings and manufacturing sectors.

Omnia ensures farmers do the right thing at the right time.

➔ Scan this QR code to go directly to the Omnia website.

For more information: nutriology@omnia.co.za www.omnia.co.za

2022/04/07 10:28 AM