Barbara Creecy Calls for Urgent Action to Combat Plastic Pollution
In commemoration of World Environment Day 2023, Minister Barbara Creecy emphasized the urgent need for decisive action to combat plastic pollution, citing its detrimental impacts on human health, the economy, and the environment. During her visit to two recycling plants in Cape Town, supported through Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs), the minister gained insights into the role of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes in plastic recycling.
The first stop on her visit was Waste Want in Kraaifontein, where 200 employees work diligently to divert 1,000 tonnes of plastic waste from landfills each month. The project has become a critical player in the recycling value chain, setting an example for effective waste management practices.
The second site visited was the CRDC SA RESIN8 plant in the Blackheath industrial area. This facility focuses on mixing and converting plastic into an aggregate modifier for the construction industry. Currently processing 450kg of waste daily, the company aims to reach an impressive monthly target of 610 tonnes when it reaches full production. Both projects demonstrate the potential of recycling to address plastic pollution and create a circular economy.
According to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) in South Africa, the country produces over 2.5 million tonnes of plastic annually. Unfortunately, inadequate waste management practices result in the improper disposal of up to half of post-consumer plastic, posing significant environmental risks.
At the recent Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC2) on Plastic Pollution in Paris, France, South Africa joined 175 nations in reaffirming its commitment to developing an international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, by the end of 2024. This landmark agreement signals a global effort to tackle the plastic crisis head-on.
During the conference, the participating nations agreed on a mandate to prepare a zero-draft text of the instrument for consideration at the upcoming third session of the committee, scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, from November 13-17, 2023. During a joint review in August, the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment will lead the African Group of Negotiators, who will assess Africa’s progress in addressing plastic pollution.
Minister Creecy believes that an international legally binding agreement will foster greater accountability, cooperation, and innovation among governments, industries, EPR schemes, and waste reclaimers to tackle the plastic pollution problem effectively. The negotiations in South Africa have already begun to unite stakeholders, promoting collaboration and identifying achievable goals to address plastic waste and pollution.
South Africa faces significant waste management challenges, including poor landfill practices, irregular household waste collection, and rampant illegal dumping nationwide. However, the country’s EPR schemes for paper and packaging have made notable progress in diverting waste from landfills. Last year alone, over 1.5 million tonnes of paper and packaging were successfully diverted through recycling, recovery, and treatment efforts.
As Minister Creecy concludes her visit to the recycling plants, she emphasizes the need for collective action and ongoing collaboration to overcome the plastic pollution crisis. By working together, South Africa and the global community can pave the way for a cleaner and more sustainable future, preserving the environment for future generations.