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Speech delivered by Minister Creecy during the 2020 Waste Management Officer’s Khoro in Pretoria

17 September 2020

Programme director
SALGA representatives
Officials from National, Provincial Departments and Local government
Waste Management Officers
Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to deliver this keynote address at this Waste Khoro 2020 event hosted as a virtual conference. This event was originally planned to be hosted in North-West Province, and I suppose following our President’s announcements last night, it will not be too long before we can once again work together face to face.

As we all know, we meet today during a challenging and difficult time. As a result of the pandemic there has been minimal economic activity, jobs have been lost, industries and businesses have downsized or closed. Across the world governments are working on economic recovery strategies.

For many countries, placing their economies on a more sustainable growth path is central. Our country understands green industries can open new possibilities for development and create much needed jobs. The waste management sector has strong potential to innovate and improve socio-economic conditions, and contribute to sustainable development and resource use.

Regionally, South Africa is a founding member of the African Circular Economy Alliance which started when UNEP, South Africa, Rwanda and Nigeria agreed to take the outcomes of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) forward in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF).

This innovative programme was launched in Germany in 2017, at UNFCCC COP 23. The Alliance is open to all African Countries and we have joined hands with other states to facilitate, promote and support the transition towards a circular economy on our continent. The recent AMCEN Bureau have instructed the Alliance to ramp up the implementation of Circular economy in Africa.

We also participate in the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), of which I am the current President. The AMCEN Bureau together with the African Union proposed an “African Green Stimulus Programme” that will contribute meaningfully towards the broader African Post-Covid-19 Response Programme. Improving waste management by means of adopting principles of a circular economy is one of the focus areas.

Here at home, we have aligned policy and strategy with the circular economy concept. I am pleased to share with you today, that last week, Cabinet approved the National Waste Management Strategy 2020.

The National Waste Management Strategy 2020 is aimed at promoting the waste hierarchy and circular economy principles, while achieving both socio-economic benefits and the reduction of negative environmental impacts. Key to this are the three Pillars of the National Waste Management Strategy which are: promoting waste minimisation, efficient and effective waste services and awareness raising, compliance monitoring and enforcement.

The 2019 Khoro reflected on the progress made during the first decade of the Waste Act implementation and agreed on resolutions. The National Waste Management Strategy 2020 builds on the successes and lessons from the implementation of that 2011 strategy.

The NWMS provides government policy and strategic interventions for the waste sector and is aligned and responsive to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Agenda 2030 adopted by all United Nations (UN) member States. It is also aligned and consistent with South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP): Vision 2030 which is our country’s specific response to, and integration of the SDGs into our overall socio-economic development plans.

Significant strategic shifts from the 2011 strategy made in the NWMS 2020 include:

  • Addressing the role waste pickers and the informal sector in the circular economy;
  • Promoting approaches to the design of products and packaging that reduce waste or encourage reuse, repair and preparation for recycling, support markets for source separated recyclables;
  • Investigating potential regulatory or economic interventions to increase participation rates in residential separation at source programmes;
  • Investing in the economies associated with transporting of recyclables to waste processing facilities;
  • Addressing the skills gap within the sector; and
  • Engagement with the National Treasury regarding the operational expenditures for municipalities associated with implementing the NWMS and Waste Act.

With regards to compliance promotion at local government level, we have seen that implementation of the NWMS 2011 showed a lack of monitoring and evaluation of municipal waste management. This needs to be addressed with a collective effort to bring the necessary change, and we must call out poor performance and non-compliance, and ensure that corrective action is taken where needed.

We have seen sterling collaboration between DEFF, National Treasury and COGTA on the change of MIG policy to fund the yellow fleet.

But more needs to be done to support municipalities to comply with landfill infrastructure standards, improve the number of households that have weekly waste collection ; and actively promote waste diversion from landfilling. 

In this regard all of you gathered here today have an important role to play. We need to set attainable targets, we need to enhance training, we need to battle noncompliance, and consequences for noncompliance and we need to work across all levels of government to support resource mobilisation and actively build partnerships with the private sector.

Central to the promoting private sector collaboration is the concept of extended producer responsibility. This year our Department embarked on an extensive consultation process to initiate extended producer responsibility schemes with the private sector for the following products:

  • Paper and Packaging;
  • Electrical and Electronic Equipment; and
  • Lighting.

This gives effect to Section 18 of the National Environmental Management Waste Act, 2008 and also supports the approach to the management of waste enshrined in the 2020 National Waste Management Strategy. 

The introduction of recyclate content targets for specific products is an important mechanism to stimulate the demand for waste resources.

In this regard, the Department has also taken strides by ensuring product design changes that embrace circularity for the manufacturing of plastic carrier bags. We have received extensive comments on the amendments of the plastic carrier bags Regulations, and I am pleased that we are moving in the right direction to prevent and manage plastic pollution.

Other initiatives that we hope will promote the circular economy include the exclusion regulations that recognise material that can be used for beneficiation purposes without requiring a waste licence. Our Department has approved 48 applications for the beneficial use of several waste materials, thus unblocking obstacles and promoting the full implementation of the waste management hierarchy.

Central to the success of the circular economy concept is demand stimulation. Government has considerable spending power and we must take the lead in advancing green and sustainable procurement.  We are already in discussion with our sister departments on utilising alternative building materials consisting of repurposed ash, construction and demolition waste and well as organic waste. New building standards in this regard can improve circularity.

The Chemicals and Waste Economy Phakisa identified several waste initiatives and priorities.  This led to the development of detailed action plans and business cases for 20 initiatives. 

In implementing some of the initiatives from the Chemicals and Waste Phakisa relating to the Exclusion Regulations, the Department has now approved 48 applications for the beneficial use of several waste materials thus unblocking obstacles and promoting the full implementation of the waste management hierarchy.

Fellow delegates, the Waste Act makes provision for the designation of Waste Management Officers (WMOs) at all levels of government for the purpose of coordinating matters pertaining to waste management in South Africa. 

Currently we have municipal, provincial and national Waste Management Officers designated.  This event is one of the established mechanisms to coordinate the efforts of WMOs and is a platform for all WMOs, waste management practitioners and other related officials from the three spheres of government to share experiences and discuss challenges, possible solutions and opportunities with a goal of improving waste management in the country.

The policy objectives of our government are clear. It is now up to you to join forces across all levels of government to make their implementation a reality.  I wish you well in your deliberations and know that you will have fruitful discussions.

I thank you.


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