DRIVING A ZERO-WASTE TYRE POLICY
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
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.