The old adage “waste not, want not” per­haps best epit­o­mises the guid­ing prin­ci­ple be­hind the work of the Re­cy­cling and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Ini­tia­tive of South Africa, writes Gre­gory Rule

CityPress - - Business -

The Re­cy­cling and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Ini­tia­tive of South Africa (REDISA), es­tab­lished as a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship, has been suc­cess­fully built on for­ward-think­ing leg­is­la­tion passed in 2012 by the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs aimed at es­tab­lish­ing a pro­gramme to hold tyre man­u­fac­tur­ers and tyre im­porters re­spon­si­ble for their in­dus­try waste.

Sta­tis­tics show that be­fore REDISA ex­isted, South Africa was deal­ing with only 4% of the to­tal num­ber of tyres be­ing gen­er­ated as waste. The ini­tia­tive has in­creased that to 70% within three years and is well on the way to achiev­ing 100% by 2017.

In essence, the ini­tia­tive’s busi­ness model fo­cuses on help­ing to ben­e­fi­ci­ate waste tyres. This is achieved by build­ing down­stream in­dus­tries that can process th­ese tyres, while de­vel­op­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards that af­fect up­stream pro­duc­tion of new tyres and fos­ter “cra­dle-to-cra­dle” man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­niques. The end re­sult will be fewer harm­ful ef­fects on the en­vi­ron­ment.

“The REDISA Plan pro­vides gov­ern­ment with an en­vi­ron­men­tal so­lu­tion at no cost to the fis­cus, with its core man­dates be­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cioe­co­nomic up­lift­ment through the de­vel­op­ment of en­tre­pre­neur­ial and job op­por­tu­ni­ties, ul­ti­mately con­tribut­ing to eco­nomic growth,” says Stacey David­son, the di­rec­tor of REDISA.

The waste man­age­ment fee REDISA col­lects from all tyre man­u­fac­tur­ers and im­porters is spent on clean­ing the en­vi­ron­ment of tyre waste and fund­ing the de­vel­op­ment of re­cy­cling in­dus­tries. In this way, small busi­nesses are be­ing de­vel­oped across the sup­ply chain.

Unique in the world, this pathfind­ing ap­proach has been praised by the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos, Switzerland as well as the Euro­pean Union as a suc­cess story of the cir­cu­lar econ­omy.

David­son says for the first time an in­dus­try is be­ing held ac­count­able and is tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the full en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of its prod­ucts. “More­over, it has a means to mit­i­gate and ul­ti­mately elim­i­nate that im­pact.”

David­son sees the ini­tia­tive’s role as more than just ad­her­ing to leg­isla­tive re­quire­ments. She views the work of REDISA as a tool for trans­form­ing the econ­omy and cre­at­ing a sus­tain­able ap­proach to the chal­lenges of the global econ­omy.

She ar­gues that the cur­rent model of a lin­ear econ­omy is not cost ef­fec­tive and sus­tain­able in the long run as “we are run­ning out of com­modi­ties and the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts are cre­at­ing losses to the econ­omy”.

“We be­lieve, there­fore, that there needs to be a par­a­digm shift and that the con­cept of cir­cu­lar­ity needs to be in­tro­duced into our econ­omy to en­sure that sus­tain­able growth can be achieved,” she says.

This means bal­anc­ing eco­nomic growth, in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment and cre­at­ing jobs from the es­tab­lish­ment of small busi­nesses – all while low­er­ing emis­sions and re­duc­ing the over­all im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.

“REDISA is there­fore a cru­cial in­ter­me­di­ary in the re­me­di­a­tion of waste and the tran­si­tion to a more en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able cir­cu­lar econ­omy. Its busi­ness model can be ap­plied to any waste stream and this is where the true promise of REDISA’s ap­proach can be lever­aged,” says David­son.

A key com­po­nent of REDISA’s ac­tiv­i­ties is the re­search and de­vel­op­ment it car­ries out to help tyre man­u­fac­tur­ers im­prove their de­sign pro­cesses. It is also in­volved in fund­ing new tech­nolo­gies and pro­cesses for re­cy­cling tyres.

Re­search spon­sored by REDISA is aimed at cre­at­ing tech­nolo­gies for val­ori­sa­tion of waste tyres with di­rect po­ten­tial for in­dus­trial im­ple­men­ta­tion, de­vel­op­ing new com­mer­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties be­yond those of­fered by ex­ist­ing tyre re­cy­cling tech­nolo­gies.

In part­ner­ship with the Nel­son Man­dela Met­ro­pol­i­tan Univer­sity, REDISA is sup­port­ing the cre­ation of the Prod­uct Test­ing In­sti­tute (PTI) which will carry out tyre test­ing ac­cord­ing to South African ho­molo­ga­tion and in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

The PTI, is sched­uled to be built by early 2017 and fully op­er­a­tional by the end of that year, will be de­vel­op­ing a new set of stan­dards which will de­fine an en­vi­ron­men­tal rat­ing for tyres. This will al­low for vari­a­tions in the waste man­age­ment fee - those tyres that are bet­ter en­vi­ron­men­tally rated will in­cur a lower fee.

“The in­cen­tive of lower fees and even­tual elim­i­na­tion of fees will en­cour­age tyre man­u­fac­tures to pro­duce prod­ucts in a man­ner that is fully cra­dle-to-cra­dle cer­ti­fied, ul­ti­mately cre­at­ing a ze­rowaste in­dus­try,” con­cludes David­son.

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