Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi's speech during the third Waste Management Officer’s Khoro, International Convention Centre, East London, Eastern Cape Province
8 Oct 2012
Members of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs,
Officials from national, provincial departments and local government
Waste Management Officers
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great privilege and honour for me to be part of this historic event in waste management, the 3rd Waste Management Officers Khoro and I am elated to have it in the Eastern Cape, a beautiful province where some of our legends come from.
The theme for this 3rd Waste Khoro - ‘Creating jobs and increasing efficiencies in the delivery of waste services’ comes at the crucial time when job creation is on everyone’s lips. We have chosen this theme so that we can discuss how we improve waste services with the resources that we have. The purchase of appropriate vehicles such as compactor trucks and safety equipment demands larger appropriations from local governments. A simple way to cut costs is to improve the collection system.
This includes establishing a collection route with minimal left turns, regular schedule for collection, and maintaining vehicles regularly. This ensures that limited budgets go a long way and double measures are immediately implemented. We need to discuss how we can do what we need to do, with the resources that we have at our disposal.
In 2011, following the 2nd Waste Khoro, South Africa hosted the 17th session of the Conference of Parties (COP17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban. Following that the Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this year in June. The United Nations identified seven (7) key issues which needed critical attention at Rio and for the purposes of this Conference I will make mention of two.
One being job creation and the other being energy. The economic recession around the world has meant more people are jobless. It is estimated that there are 190 million unemployed people and over 500 million job seekers will flood the job market in the next 10 years. At the Rio +20, the UN mentioned that the creation of green jobs is key. A global transition to a low carbon and sustainable economy can create large numbers of green jobs across many sectors. Waste management is one of the key sectors to drive the green economy.
In the New Growth Path announced by Cabinet in October 2010 (The National Development Plan) it is stated that unemployment rate can be reduced by 6% by 2030 and that the country needs to create about 11 million more jobs in the next 20 years. For the purposes of contributing towards the national set target, it means we all have to pull together as one unit ensuring that our combined efforts produce a lasting impact toward job creation and service delivery.
I also do extend an invitation to everyone here today to progressively take rigorous steps towards ensuring that more waste jobs are created and that waste services in unserviced areas are delivered and where they are slow they are delivered at an improved rate.
This gathering presents us with an opportunity to, on an annual basis, take stock of where the country is currently and map the way forward into the future on issues of waste. As we may know, the waste sector is a dynamic sector, influenced by population variations, economic development and technology. As society progresses, we face the challenges of new and complex waste streams which must be managed in a sustainable manner. In other words, the systems and technologies which were used in the early 80s may not necessarily be applicable or relevant for managing waste in 2012.
This brings along challenges in certain waste streams including waste tyres which we are facing in this country. It is estimated that about 11 million tyres are sold per year, which will essentially become 275 000 tons of waste. The waste tyres present a challenge when taken to waste disposal sites because they do not biodegrade. You will agree with me that most municipal sites are not able to cater for this waste, along with stock piles of waste tyres which remain unmanaged. It is for this reason that the Minister recently approved the Integrated Waste Tyre Management Plan submitted by the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA).
The Plan seeks to deal with the waste tyre problems whilst incorporating job creation and SMME development, which are government’s top priorities. The implementation of the Plan has already started, and we all have to engage with it and see what our role is, particularly for local government. Our department will put systems in place to monitor its implementation and report on progress from time to time.
Central to the issue of waste management, is the opportunity to create sustainable jobs in the whole chain of the integrated waste management system from generation, collection, transportation, recycling, recovery through to managing disposal sites. Local government has a constitutional mandate to manage waste and this presents an opportunity to employ innovative ways of fulfilling this mandate and incorporate the principles of the waste management hierarchy of reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, and disposal as a last resort. It is in this process where job creation must be maximised by incorporating labour intensive models with a specific focus on youth.
We need to ensure that young people are encouraged to participate in the waste sector, in that way we will be building a sustainable skill base for the sector to ensure continuity.
The department is looking at how it can contribute to this endeavour, by facilitating various initiatives to create jobs for youth. This programme will focus on placing unemployed youth in various municipalities and exposing them to various activities in waste management as a form of job opportunity. This will just be a small contribution from the national department, working with provinces and municipalities. Such initiatives must be encouraged and information shared amongst municipalities on best practice labour intensive models.
All these efforts will not be sustainable if we do not incorporate public awareness and education on waste management, more so as this country still has a huge littering problem. Behavioural change has to start at a very early stage in life, which is why our starting point should be young people.
We continue to make efforts to support the implementation of the waste management hierarchy approach as embedded in the National Environmental Management Waste Act, 2008, through development of tools such as guidelines, regulations and standards to ensure that we divert waste away from landfills. There is a need to work closely with other government departments such as the Department of Trade and Industry, Science and Technology and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs as well as the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) to ensure that there is coordination in building the recycling economy and ensuring that there are markets for recyclable waste.
We should continue to engage the private sector and create partnerships to deal will recycling. According to the packaging sector; in 2008 South Africans consumed over 3 629 million tons of packaging (metal, paper, glass and plastic) and this includes paper which is found in the waste stream examples of this includes newspapers, magazines and mail. In that year about 1 595 million tons of pre and post-consumer waste was collected for recycling, a rate of 43.9%.
Although not all packaging and paper can be recycled, this area remains key for opportunities of recycling where municipalities can participate. There is a need to have better systems of collection which incorporate separation at sources, in order to get clean material, and better quality jobs than the current practice of waste picking on landfill sites.
The issue of diverting waste from going to landfill is one of the three key priority areas outlined in Outcome 10 of the government service delivery agreement, upon which we are supposed to deliver as a sector. This is coupled with regularisation or licensing of unpermitted sites and provision of waste services to the unserviced communities (dealing with service delivery backlogs). I urge all three spheres to engage and ensure that we deliver on the targets set in this agreement and monitor progress. Our department has set aside some funds to assist municipalities to license their sites working with our provincial counterparts.
This project targets a few municipalities in each province but does not stop municipalities who have capacity and the means to apply for licenses. Where applicable, some of the sites may be licensed for closure and rehabilitation.
Enforcement remains a big challenge in the country, even though we have good legislation in place and this is exacerbated; in part; by lack of enforcement capacity. In this 2012/13 financial year, the department continues to support the development of Environmental Management Inspectorate capacity at the local authority level.
At the national Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Lekgotla that was held in Polokwane in February this year, several local authorities signed Implementation Protocols with the Limpopo province, paving the way for the designation of Environmental Management Inspectors. I am aware that similar processes are currently being followed in other provinces across the country.
Funding of waste services is one of the areas that we need to put more energy in along with a need to maximise on efficient budgeting and utilisation of available resources sparingly. It is often a cry of local government that there are no funds to carry out all these functions, often referred to as ‘unfunded mandates’. We are working closely with National Treasury to ensure that funds for waste management are allocated and that they are sufficient, however; local government has to put systems in place for efficient budgeting and be able to achieve more with less.
The area of revenue collection systems also require particular attention so that people who can afford to pay for services do so, and that the tariffs which are charged are cost-reflective. I am pleased that the issue of funding will be deliberated on in this conference and we have officials from national Treasury as well, who will contribute to these deliberations and some municipalities who will be able to share practical lessons on tariff setting.
Our department has also developed a tariff setting model which can be used by municipalities to calculate appropriate tariffs which takes into consideration all input costs into the waste management system.
The question is how do we ensure that these funds are used appropriately and allocated in a manner that will talk to priorities at local government level as well as deliver the much needed services? We need to strengthen the planning mechanism provided for in the Municipal Systems Act and the Waste Act, that is, the Integrated development Plans (IDPs) and the Integrated Waste Management Plans (IWMPs). These plans need to be in place and integrated for municipalities to plan and track progress on implementation. It is often believed that government is good on policies and planning, but lack in implementation, this notion must change and the waste sector must take the lead. Let us ensure that we have plans in place and maximise on implementation.
The planning aspect goes with institutional capacity to implement these plans and we all know that most municipalities inherited the institutional structures and have never reviewed them in line with population growth and the growing need to provide services to more and more households. The time has come that we can no longer rely on those structures, we must review them and ensure that we instate mechanisms which will facilitate effective service delivery.
We are working with SALGA to look very closely into this matter, and I am pleased that later today, they are going to lead a discussion on institutional arrangements. I urge you to engage on this matter and come up with practical recommendations which we can all take back to our Councils and be able to report in the next Khoro on progress.
As you may be aware, cabinet approved the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) late last year; for implementation. I am pleased to officially launch it today and ensure that all three spheres of government implement it. The Waste Act requires that organs of state implement the NWMS, even though the private sector and civil society also have a role to place in the strategy. It is also not only for the environment department, but has elements which must be carried out by other departments such as the DTI, Water Affairs, Department of Education, Cooperative Governance and so forth. The NWMS is centered on 8 goals namely,
- Promote waste minimisation, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste.
- Ensure the effective and efficient delivery of waste services.
- Grow the contribution of the waste sector to the green economy.
- Ensure that people are aware of the impact of waste on their health, well-being and the environment.
- Achieve integrated waste management planning.
- Ensure sound budgeting and financial management for waste services.
- Provide measures to remediate contaminated land.
- Establish effective compliance with and enforcement of the Waste Act.
The development of the National Waste Management Strategy in 2011 was an important milestone in the implementation of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008), and I am pleased to officially launch it today. Let us all pull together and implement it to the best of our ability, and build on some of the initiatives which are already underway in all three spheres of government.
Ladies and gentlemen the theme for this year’s waste management Khoro is “Creating Jobs and Increasing Efficiencies in the delivery of Waste Services” gives you all an opportunity to have robust engagements to come up with practical recommendations for implementation. I am confident and can proudly say that our targets, commitments and achievements from the inaugural Khoro to date are in line with the national development interest and there is room for improvement.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me take this opportunity to thank you all for honouring my invitation and I wish you very fruitful engagements in the commissions and we look forward to your recommendations as experts in this field.
I thank you.
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Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs
8 Oct 2012
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