Speech by Minister Edna Molewa at the 5th Waste Khoro

Durban, eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal
31 May 2016


 Minister Edna Molewa at the 5th Waste KhoroMinister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Hon Des van Rooyen
MEC: Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, KZN Province, Mr Michael Mabuyakhulu
MEC: Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Administration, Mpumalanga Province, Mr. A Gamede
MEC: Environmental Affairs and Nature Conservation, Northern Cape Province, Ms T Chotelo
MEC: Economic Development, Tourism, Environmental Affairs and Small Business Development, Free
State Province, Mr M S Mashinini
MEC: Economic Development, Rural Development and Environment, North West Province, Ms M Tlhape
Executive Mayor of eThekwini, His Excellency Cllr James Nxumalo
Members of Mayoral Committees from various Metropolitan Municipal Councils, (I am told Ekurhuleni might have the highest number in attendance)
Members of Mayoral Committees from various Municipal Councils
Civil Society representatives
Senior Managers of Government Departments and Municipalities
Captains of industry
Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

It is a great privilege and honour for me to convene this 5th Annual Waste Management Khoro at a time when countries around the globe grapple with ways in which they can balance meeting the demands of an increasing population, with environmental and natural resource protection.

In February this year at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the talk on everybody's lips was around the circular economy.

It is a new way of seeing the way in which we manage our world at a time of increased resource scarcity. It is about 'the transformation of business models, and government-business-societal relationships through new technological innovation' and in the process creating jobs and catalyzing economic development.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have convened this Waste Khoro here, eThekwini in the vibrant province of Kwa-Zulu/Natal - in the eThekwini Municipality, a municipality that by the way leads the entire country in the creation of work opportunities for our people, and is one of the most efficient metros in the entire country in terms of service delivery - in recognition of the imperative to transform the ways in which waste is managed and processed.

I want to say from the outset just how excited and encouraged I am to see the different players in the waste value-chain gathered here today. As you will know, this is the first Khoro to be open to all stakeholders, and not just government officials.

As a country we have long recognized the need to streamline and coordinate waste management initiatives across the country by bringing together government departments, provinces, municipalities, private sector, civil society and the general public.

We are here because we want to address the challenges facing the sector, but we are also here because over the next few days we want to explore practical solutions to these challenges, primarily through technological innovation.

Over the next few days here at the Coastlands Convention Center you won't just be experiencing the hospitality of this wonderful province, and there is indeed much of it all around us. You will also be sharing experiences and exchanging information on best practices in a mutually beneficial manner.

As a collective you will be looking at ways to strengthen capacity and streamline the institutional framework across the waste management sector, in order to enhance effective waste management.

Your presence here today is an affirmation that we all know the role the waste sector has to play in South African's economy, yes, but equally, in uplifting, up skilling and developing our communities.

The commissions on Research Development and Innovation, Best Practice Technologies, Waste Recycling Enterprise Development and support will be deliberating on the ways in which we can advance the waste recycling economy, at the same time utilizing the benefits of the sound and comprehensive regulatory regime we have in place.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Waste Recycling Enterprise Development and Support is critical in ensuring that we are successful in growing the waste sector in South Africa.

Sound waste management practices are also key to our government’s service delivery agenda.

Advancing a healthy and safe environment, and building the capacity of local government to provide services to communities in a sustainable manner are among the key commitments contained in the 2016 Local Government Elections Manifesto of the governing party the African National Congress (ANC).

It is easy to forget that in 1994, the state of waste management in historically disadvantaged communities was abysmal.

Historically most of the households suffering from lack of basic refuse removal services were located in previously disadvantaged localities.

It has been under this ANC government that we have transformed a paradigm of selected services for a select few, to one in which access to basic services for the majority of our people, and for the poor in particular - is now a human right.

The General Household Survey 2014, which is aligned with the National Domestic Waste Collection Standards, indicates that the current number of South African households now with access to waste services stands at 75%. It is expected that this number will reach 80% by 2019.

If one considers that this number stood at 55.4% in 2001 – the pace of the ANC government’s service delivery programme with regards to the provision of refuse removal services, has been impressive.

It has also been under this ANC government that a National Policy for the Provision of Basic Refuse Removal Services to Indigent Households was developed, to address the inability of millions of poor households to pay for waste services such as refuse removal.

This policy forms part of a general basket of free basic services to indigent households in South Africa including water, sanitation, electricity and solid waste removal.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Promoting economic development and supporting small enterprises in our communities is another key commitment contained in the Manifesto.

South Africa, like all economies in the world who want to get ahead, needs many entrepreneurs, and the waste sector is no different.

It is by nurturing and supporting new entrants into this space that we are able to bring new life to the innovative new technologies being discussed at this Waste Khoro. It is through supporting these emerging enterprises in South Africa that jobs will be created, and avenues for new markets opened. Support and development of waste entrepreneurs and small businesses in this space has been identified as a key area for my department.

To do so however necessitates partnership with the private sector to grow these new business projects. The waste sector is one of the most important contributors to the generation of jobs in the green sector, with an estimated value of R 25 billion to the South African economy.

South Africa's Waste Tyre Management Plan, REDISA, was recently a finalist in 'The Circulars' 2016 at the WEF, which recognizes innovation and achievement in the circular economy. This shows you just how much South African companies, big and small, are making an impact in moving our economy away from so-called 'take, make, waste', to more sustainable business practices.

We want to see more such initiatives that are at the cutting edge of innovation: initiatives that create and promote new business opportunities, and new jobs.

We have, each and every one of us, within our grasp the means to speed up waste beneficiation and unlock economic opportunities in the sector for our people.

The theme for this year's Waste Khoro is "Promoting Innovation and Up scaling Enterprise Development". It is a fitting title, because as the discussions at the WEF noted, the notion of sustainable business practices benefits our communities most.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In 2015 at the United Nations (UN) adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as encapsulated in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). This agenda, a plan of action for People, Planet and Prosperity relies on all countries and all stakeholders to form collaborative partnerships in the cause of sustainable development.

As the department mandated with stewardship of South Africa's natural environment, the effective and sustainable management of waste is key to the delivery on our mandate. We all know the effects on human health and well-being of unsustainable waste management practices.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) continues through its work to deal with 'getting the basics right' on waste management.

In this regard we have prioritized the licensing of waste disposal sites. We continue to engage and empower communities affected by the negative impacts of illegal dumping and poorly managed landfill sites as well as bolstering compliance monitoring and enforcement capacity and the implementation of authorized waste management best practice.

“Toxic justice” is an important discussion that we need to engage further on to ensure that the most vulnerable citizens of our society are protected and that polluters are held responsible and prosecuted. I believe that the panel discussion to be convened later today will be examining this subject more exhaustively.

We continue to prioritise the provision of hands-on support to municipalities in sound waste management practices, such as refuse removal.



Ladies and gentlemen,

Local government is at the coalface of service delivery: and our municipalities are the engine rooms.

Key to ensuring the health and wellbeing of our communities is having an adequate and sustainable waste service delivery system.

The progressive pro-poor policies of the ANC government are ensuring that our towns and cities are habitable, clean, healthy places of work, leisure and recreation for our people, and that the poorest of the poor are not denied access to basic services because of their poverty, but receive the same standard of services as those enjoyed in higher income areas.

Working hand in hand with our municipalities, we are creating a Better Life for All.

To actively promote entrepreneurship and enterprise development in the waste sector at a local government level, the Municipal Systems Act provides for a municipal framework for incentives to encourage recycling.

Our country's municipalities are further required to have appropriate waste management infrastructure including buyback centres, material recovery facilities, and recycling centres.

The Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) provides for basic services infrastructure in this regard, however an assessment of the MIG indicates a bias towards landfill. It is apparent that many municipalities often opt to use MIG for disposal (landfill development) and hardly for recycling (e.g. buy-back centres) infrastructure.

This indicates that a huge opportunity exists in the recycling value chain, and it is encouraging to note that some municipalities are being proactive and innovative in the recycling and pre-sorting of waste.

However we should be looking at more ways in which we are able to take advantage of such opportunities. If necessary this will involve municipalities looking at their policies, by-laws, tariff structures and recycling incentives, to name but a few.

It is worth noting that a misperception may exist that the MIG does not fund movable assets.

My department is working with the Department Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) on the MIG policy review, to dispel this notion. I am pleased that MISA is putting up the specific conditions to provide greater clarity around the specification for assets like waste removal trucks.


Economic Instruments, Waste Pricing and Waste Bureau

My department has developed a platform for the implementation of new economics instruments as outlined in the National Waste Management Strategy. Together with new economic instruments is the improvement on the regulatory framework that supports a new radical approach, envisaged in the National Waste Amendment Act, 2014.

The National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Act, 2014 came into effect on the 2 June 2014. It provides for a National Pricing Strategy for waste management charges. We will be fully operationalizing the Waste Management Bureau this year.

The new institutional approach includes the establishment of the Waste Management Bureau that would oversee the implementation of Industry Waste Management Plans (IndWMPs) including the management and the disbursement of revenue collected from waste management charges.  At present, one (1) existing IndWMP for tyres is being implemented, whilst IndWMPs for Three (3) other waste streams are at various stages of development by industry. These exclude several voluntary industry led extended producer responsibility schemes and public campaigns like the Rose Foundation, Collect-a-Can, and Make Mzansi Beautiful.

As promised last year at the Waste Summit 2015 that was held in Mpumalanga, I published the first Section 28 Notice of Intention in July 2015 calling for the electronic waste, Paper and Packaging and Lighting Industry Waste Management Plans.

I believe you have been part of the commenting process. After addressing several concerns and comments from various individuals and organisations I will be publishing in due course the Final Section 28 Notice call for final plans to be submitted for consideration and approval. I know that you will be discussing these at this Khoro. The Final Notice and the discussions you will be having will enable us to have the three plans in place by end of this financial year. We need to conclude on this and then look at other possible waste streams to join the four that have been mentioned.

In order to monitor the implementation of these plans, the Waste Bureau is being operationalised. The functions of the Waste Bureau include progressively building capacity to provide specialist support for the development and implementation of these waste management plans and capacity building programmes to support government at national provincial and local government spheres.


Enterprise Development in Municipal Waste


Ladies and gentlemen,

Waste pickers are an integral part of the waste management system, and help to divert recyclables away from landfill.

These are the people who have expert knowledge of the recyclables they deal with and would add a lot of value if they are to be considered whenever new recycling facilities are being developed.

They are also vulnerable workers who have undertaken an often thankless task under very harsh conditions, to provide food for their families. We are working at bringing the country's estimated 62 127 registered waste pickers into the formal waste economy, in consultation with those affected.

The highly populated and urban provinces have the number waste pickers. i.e Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal have the highest incidents of waste picking based on their urbanisation and population.

A study undertaken by my Department on the extent and role of waste picking in the country revealed a number of issues.

  1. Firstly, that waste picking is predominantly an individual/silo business, and lacks organisation.
  2. Secondly, that the majority of waste pickers operate from landfill sites due to poor or low levels of source separation in the country.
  3. Thirdly, that waste pickers have expressed interest into wanting to be formalised and operate within organised entities.
  4. Fourthly, that waste picking is limited by the lack of infrastructure to enable people to sustain their businesses.
  5. Fifth, and importantly, is the lack of funds to support for waste pickers’ infrastructural, health and safety needs.

We need to acknowledge and thank municipalities that have specific waste picker integration programmes. Some of the integrated waste pickers are now fully fledged enterprises that are contracted as service providers for specific municipalities in their waste and cleansing sections.

That said, much more needs to be done. The integration objective cannot be realised without the buy-in and active support from you as industry, working with the municipalities.


Waste beneficiation and hazardous waste roadmap

We are seeing a steady increase in the recycling rates of paper, plastic, metal and glass. Interventions on the supply side will unlock further economic opportunities:

  • Investment in collection infrastructure (kerbside collection, dual collection vehicles or conveniently located collection points)
  • Creating entrepreneurial opportunities that integrate waste pickers
  • Pro-recycling incentives at household level

We need to see more innovation products and upscaling of research work into the building of large enterprises to feed the demand. Interventions such as the replacement of virgin materials within existing product lines. Earlier this month, I launched an initiative that put our country on the global map. The R350 mil Mpact polymer plant in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, that embraces innovation in PET bottles. I have seen results in the working together of government departments such as the dti, funders, producers, retailers or big brand owners.

For the recycling economy to grow then we need to increase the manufacturing of products from recycled materials. This would further involve upscaling of enterprise development for specific product development. We have seen the PET recycling bottle-to-bottle and vast opportunities in job creation were realised.


Hazardous Waste


Recently the management of hazardous waste especially medical waste became a topical issue with the washing up of medical waste on several of Durban’s beaches.

This province is home to several large hazardous waste landfill sites some which are nearing their capacity and others which have been closed by my department due to close proximity to vulnerable communities which was inherited as part of the apartheid spatial planning legacy.

I am pleased to announce that the Hazardous Waste Roadmap has been finalized. It seeks to address the impacts of hazardous waste streams as well as outline a strategy of waste diversions, minimisation and recycling.


Technology Innovation


We are pursuing a partnership with Department of Science and Technology (DST) for various aspects of implementation of the Waste Roadmap. This partnership will also involve other DST’s entities namely the CSIR and Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).

We have seen innovation and upscaling SMME development in two (2) Technology Innovation Sectors; namely Agricultural biotechnology and Mining.

These partnerships are based on 2 case studies:

  1. Conversion of organic waste to animal feed protein. We have noted successes in the investments that TIA has made in one company as part of their goal to commercialise an insect-based protein feed in the animal feed industry. This is in response to an unmet market need in the animal feed and livestock industries to bring to the market, sustainable and affordable alternatives to fishmeal and soymeal. To enter the last phase in its innovation journey, this company has plans to scale its production capacity to meet demand from the market (animal feed manufacturing) over the next five years by commissioning seven production factories in South Africa, Africa and Europe. In preparation for this phase, this company has successfully approached local and international investors, who have committed R91,5 million towards three production factories in South Africa on successful completion of the technology demonstration, market testing and validation milestones, funded by TIA.
  2. One demonstration project has been funded R10 million to acquire and install suitable control instrumentation (for a furnace with no moving parts to process iron-ore fines/waste/discards and high titanium ores). The control instrumentation will ensure that optimal conditions are maintained in an automated and process controlled environment. The related materials of construction will also be established during the project. This technology will potentially unlock value in billions of tons of waste dump material and high titanium ores, while addressing the environmental liabilities associated with mine dumps.


Small Business Incentives


We are also pursuing a partnership with the DTI's Technology Venture Capital (TVC) which is a fund established by the DTI and managed by IDC which provides business support and seed capital for the commercialisation of innovative products, processes and technologies.

The TVC aims to increase the number of economically-productive companies in SA, and thus contribute to economic growth and international competitiveness through innovation and technological advancement.

We continue to work with the universities of technology and other universities in designing innovative curricula and aplied science programmes and projects in waste management, recycling and beneficiation.

An example is the pilot e-waste dismantling and recycling plant planned for the Vaal University of Technology which aims to address unemployment in townships in the Vaal triangle as well as develop new technologies for e-waste recycling in partnership with the SA Technology Network (SATN), Technology innovation Agency (TIA), the Department of Science and Technology and the private sector.


Industry Waste Management Plans

As a country, we are embracing the Extended Producer Responsibility principle and the producers of products that end up as waste need to come to the party. We cannot lay a heavy burden on society in bearing the costs of waste management linked to specific waste streams without holding the producers responsible.

In 2003, we had to regulate plastic bags based on the plastic litter challenge the country faced at the time. The plastic bag levy also contributes to the buy-back centre infrastructure development.

In 2012, we had to respond to the management waste tyres. The plan was intended to stimulate the development of SMEs in the area of collection, transportation and processing of the waste tyres collected. Among other technical visits to waste recycling initiatives on Thursday will be a visit to Mathe Group in Hammarsdale, which is a rubber crumbing plant that is a beneficiary of the Redisa approved waste tyre management plan.

In 2015, I declared my intention to call for

  • the paper and packaging
  • lighting and
  • e-waste industry waste management plans

And a lot of stakeholders provided comments linked to these intention.

I am engaging the DEA team on the comments that you as a sector has provided and this Khoro further provides for further engagement. These proposed plans need to embrace transformation of the sector.

The Product Responsibility Organisation that develops the plan and ensures its implementation needs to ensure that the recycling value-chain is transformed. Waste pickers and historically disadvantaged individuals do not have a voice in the governance structures of some of the existing recycling organisations.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am saying that though the intention was for producers to develop and implement the plans, I am currently considering another option of having entrepreneurs and emerging industrialists that are not necessarily producers to develop and implement these plans.


Waste Information

By the end of the third quarter this year, the Department will publish the first national State of Waste Report developed with the data obtained from the South African Waste Information System (SAWIS).

According to the 2015 SA Packaging Recovery Assessment Report conducted by the Bmi Research group the following waste stream collection rates for recycling was achieved:


Glass 40.1%
Metal 65.8%
Paper (packaging and print) 62.7%
Plastic packaging 37.7%


The projected estimates for 2015 look even more promising:


Glass 40.7%
Metal 66.2%
Paper (packaging and print) 64.0%
Plastic packaging 38.2%


These numbers also take into account innovation and best practice in industry in terms of lightweighting and re-gauging and the impacts of the economic downturn.

In this context I want to really applaud the industries involved for their increasing commitment and strides taken to divert waste from landfill sites into increased recovery and recycling. Your efforts are contributing to much needed job creation and beneficiation as we together strive to achieve the ideals of a circular economy philosophy in South Africa.


Recycling Enterprises Support Programme

A dedicated project team from my Department and the Waste Bureau has been tasked to spearhead the Recycling Enterprises Support Programme, that is just one of the many socio-economic development initiatives spearheaded by government and under implementation countrywide.

The programme will over the next few years offer the necessary support required to enable the formation and growth of new entrants in the waste recycling industry that represent historically disadvantaged groups. This will also allow them contribution to the recycling economy.

After noting that insufficient information exist regarding recycling activities by smaller players and new entrants, we solicited interest from the market with the objective of developing a database of candidates for the implementation of the programme.

A Request for Proposals was advertised in the print media in March 2016. We have received a positive response of approximately 200 organizations.


Working on Waste and Youth Jobs in Waste Programmes

Ladies and gentlemen,

Government continues to contribute to waste management infrastructure development through buy-back centers, material recovery facilities and other waste infrastructure. We have committed investment of over R180 million into the development of 30 buy-back centers, of which 15 have been completed, 10 are under implementation and 5 are in the planning stages.

The Youth Jobs in Waste programme has provided 3750 job opportunities of which 2213 benefited women and 78 benefited persons with disabilities.

The waste bins that have been planned are 67 900 and 43 468 have been delivered. 167 weigh pads have been planned and 80 have been delivered. 129 landfill site offices have been planned and 38 have been erected.

Waste management is an occupation that also requires specific policy tools for an effective service. Depending on a specific waste stream, the waste value-chain need tools that are fit for that aspect’s purpose of the value chain. The Department has developed the following policy tools to assist Municipalities to achieve the objects of the Waste Act and National Waste Management Strategy:

  • waste model by-laws,
  • waste tariff model and
  • waste plan portal.

To date over 1500 Municipal officials have been trained to use these tools.



We continue to harness the latest technology to enhance our efforts in the sound management of waste particularly with regards to communication and data collection. The enviromobi initiative implemented in five municipalities in the Free State makes use of a call centre using simcard cellular phone technology for the deployment of rapid response waste collectors and “Waste Ways” waste collection vehicles that you see outside here today.

These initiatives are very encouraging and I challenge the technology-savvy individuals amongst us to ris to the occasion. Part of the tools of trade to be showcased in this conference today is a new Waste App for South Africa which will be launched later today which will provide us faster and easier access to waste information, awareness and recycling centres.


Chemicals Management

On the issue of chemicals management, my Department has begun work in assessing the possible impact the Minamata Convention on Mercury might have on South Africa. Since signing the Convention in October 2013, we have joined the international community to phase out the use of mercury and address the harmful legacy impacts of mercury on the environment.

We will complete this study by the end of the financial year and then take recommendations to Cabinet for approval.  

In this context, we will be hosting a special commission today in this Waste Khoro on the Minamata Convention and will unpack the protocol in more detail as well as provide more information on the results of the initial studies conducted.

I believe that one of the most mercury-contaminated sites in the country is in fact here in KZN in Catoridge. After conducting a Commission of Enquiry into Thor Chemicals  in the late 1990s, government decided on a course of action to address contamination of the site and explored possible solutions to decontaminate and remediate the site.

We have also begun work on Asbestos remediation after concluding a detailed study on the South African Secondary Asbestos Remediation Plan.

We are partnering with other departments and agencies in tackling this mammoth task and again call on society and the private sector to join forces.

South Africa will continue to play a leading role in the negotiations and implementations of all Chemicals and Waste Multilateral Environmental Agreement that we are party to.


Ladies and gentlemen,


The theme of the governing party’s 2016 Local Government Elections Manifesto is “Advancing People’s Power in every Community – Local Government is in our Hands.”

We affirm here today as the ANC government that our track record on service delivery speaks for itself. We have delivered and will continue to deliver on the provision of basic services to our people. We will continue to facilitate, create and enable an environment that is not harmful to health and well-being.

We cannot however do so alone.

It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to enhance awareness around sound waste management practices. Change begins with You.

Whilst it is important to develop strategies, plans and policies, our words will have a hollow ring so long as the most vulnerable in our society are affected by the harmful impacts of unsound waste management practices.

While industry agrees that recycling makes business sense, too much valuable recyclables are still ending up in landfill.

And so I make a call today to all South Africans. We must do our part to Reduce, Re-use and Recycle.

Although government will provide the enabling environment to scale up the recycling economy, we all need to work in closer collaboration if we are to make a meaningful impact, and grow the circular economy in South Africa.

We can achieve this through technology, enterprise development and innovation, yes, but we cannot succeed unless we do more to bring more of our communities into the mainstream of waste management in this country.

By creating and fostering new opportunities, we are able to advance this country's economy along a path of sustainable development.

To do so we have to make our people part of the creation of cleaner communities. Local government is a catalyst for positive change and so long as our people feel excluded from opportunities in the sector, the ultimate impact on reducing waste, will be negligible.

No amount of technological innovation can compensate for creating real, tangible, decent jobs in the sector.

As noted by Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF, “It is important that leaders and citizens work together to shape a future that works for all by putting people first, empowering them and constantly reminding ourselves that all of these new technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people.”

I thank you!

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