Plastic: Reduce, Re-use and Recycle

Jun 11, 2019

On 13 March 2019 at the ProPak Conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg, Executive Director of Plastics SA, Anton Hanekom delivered a speech titled ‘Replacing plastics: blessing or curse?’. He said that the plastic industry is as disgusted at plastic pollution as the next person.

During his speech, Hanekom highlighted that banning plastics would be a simplistic approach to a complex issue, as the ban would only serve to remedy the situation on a surface level, instead of addressing the issue at the roots.

“Something that many of those leading the call to “wage war on plastic” fail to understand is the terrible impact that alternative materials have on the environment” he said.

 

“It is tempting to imagine a world without plastic as some sort of environmental utopia. But, when used in consumer goods, plastic uses four times less energy than alternative materials such as metal, paper and glass. In fact, alternatives to plastic packaging would nearly double greenhouse gas emissions,”

 

“The fact is that plastic – if disposed of correctly – is one of the most environmentally friendly products there is. And this is where the solution to plastic pollution can be found: in the correct disposal and management of plastic waste.” he said.

Hanekom also committed the plastics industry as being willing to work towards producing environmentally friendly products. “From our side, we are willing to make bold and constructive changes to our products. As members of the South African Initiative – an alliance of key members of the full packaging value chain – we are committed to transforming all our products to make them more environmentally friendly and recyclable.”

Reproduced from an article written by Abenathi Gqomo with kind permission from Political Analysis South Africa.

A press statement was issued after the ProPak Conference, see below:

 

image

PRESS STATEMENT BY ANTON HANEKOM
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PLASTICS SA
13 MARCH 2019

Ring-fence the plastic bag levy to fight plastic pollution.

Nobody is more disgusted at plastic pollution than those of us who work in the plastics industry. It is distressing to see our products washed up on beaches and littering the landscape.

But the call to ban plastic products is a simplistic response to a complex problem. What’s required is a rational solution to the genuine crisis of plastic pollution, not an emotional reaction.

Something that many of those leading the call to “wage war on plastic” fail to understand is the terrible impact that alternative materials have on the environment.

It is tempting to imagine a world without plastic as some sort of environmental utopia. But, when used in consumer goods, plastic uses four times less energy than alternative materials such as metal, paper and glass. In fact, alternatives to plastic packaging would nearly double greenhouse gas emissions.

The fact is that plastic – if disposed of correctly – is one of the most environmentally friendly products there is. And this is where the solution to plastic pollution can be found: in the correct disposal and management of plastic waste.

Today we are prepared to be bold and to say that waging war on plastic is not the answer. Instead, the time has come to start waging war on plastic pollution.

To win the war on plastic pollution, every role-player in the plastics industry needs to confront some hard truths. This includes us as the producers of plastics, but it also includes government and consumers.

From our side, we are willing to make bold and constructive changes to our products. As members of the South African Initiative – an alliance of key members of the full packaging value chain – we are committed to transforming all our products to make them more environmentally friendly and recyclable.

We will also prioritise new scalable technologies within the industry that not only make recycling and recovering plastics easier, but also enable the creation of value from all plastics once they have been used.

For us to be successful, we need to work closely in partnership with government. It is, after all, the role of government to provide adequate waste management infrastructure and to correctly incentivise citizens to recycle.

We are encouraged that government is prepared to have tough conversations regarding the challenges ahead. The Department of Environmental Affairs, for example, admitted in Parliament two weeks ago that it had failed to develop competent waste management facilities, let alone recycling infrastructure.

Around the country – from eThekwini to Ekurhuleni to Johannesburg to Tshwane to Cape Town – citizens resort to dumping their waste illegally because basic waste removal facilities are either inadequate or absent. A study commissioned by the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2012 showed that South Africa generated 108 million tonnes of general waste in 2011, of which only 10% was recycled.

The consequences of our weak waste management infrastructure are not only visible in our rivers and oceans, but also cost the country hundreds of millions of rand when municipalities have to clean up illegal dumping sites.

We need government to urgently fix South Africa’s inadequate waste management facilities and improve infrastructure for collection and recycling. In doing so, it can create thousands of new jobs while safeguarding the 100 000 formal and informal jobs that the plastics industry currently provides.

To start financing the upgrade of our flawed waste management system, our view is that government must immediately take steps to ring-fence the plastic bag levy that was implemented back in 2003. This levy has increased from 3c per bag in 2003 to 12c in 2018.

The nearly R2 billion that has been raised through the levy so far should never have been absorbed into the black hole of our national fiscus. Instead, the levy should have been ring-fenced for its intended purpose: to develop better recycling facilities and incentivise sustainable consumer behaviour.

In the coming weeks and months, we, as the plastics industry, will embark on a sustained campaign to persuade government and citizens to join us in the war on plastic pollution. We support President Cyril Ramaphosa’s quest to clean up South Africa, but it can only happen if there is a recycling revolution in this country.

We believe that plastic – if used correctly and disposed of properly – is a product that has immense value to society. It has a smaller carbon footprint than the alternatives, and it is more cost effective to produce. This means a lower cost of living, more economic growth and more jobs.

A rational conversation about plastic pollution recognises the positive attributes of plastic and focuses on how to manage plastic waste. The time has come to have that rational conversation, and we look forward to leading the discussion.

To win this fight, we need to build strong, collaborative and meaningful partnerships. Government, industry and the consumer need to work together.

More from our blog:

Dune report

Dune report

To inform our community and stakeholders of activities (Phase 1) undertaken by Ndlambe on the Kenton sand dune...

A word from Alan

A word from Alan

In the ever-changing landscape of the natural world, human interaction has always been a double-edged sword – creating challenges for the environment whilst equally striving to secure a better future for the future.

Annual General Meeting 2022

Annual General Meeting 2022

Our Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday 22 December at 10:00 at the Kenton Bowling Club, Recreation Road. We are very pleased that Dr Amber-Robyn Childs will address the meeting on her research into tracking the movements of dusky kob both in estuaries...

Brace yourselves swimmers

Brace yourselves swimmers

Eastern Cape climate warning as Agulhas current drifts off Thank you Mike Loewe and DispatchLIVE for kind permission to include this article in our Newsletter. Weird upwellings of frigid water between East London and Port Alfred are affecting local climate, says...

Signage regarding Pipefish

Signage regarding Pipefish

Estuary Care has once again been involved in working alongside Dr Louw Claassens, a Science Officer and Researcher from the Palau National Marine Sanctuary and her team, in designing appropriate signage regarding Pipefish that are found in both our Boesmans and Kariega Estuaries.

Plastic pollution

Plastic pollution

The article below which gives background to the ‘Towards Zero Plastics to the Seas of Africa’ conference is informative and thought provoking. Thank you Dr Tony Ribbink of Sustainable Seas Trust.

AGM 2021

AGM 2021

We are privileged to have Dr Angus Paterson speak at our AGM: Date:  Wednesday 23 DecemberTime:  10:00Venue:  Kenton Tennis ClubTopic:  New technology for a new era – Marine science in SA for the next decade Dr Paterson is the Director of the South African...

Benches

Benches

Estuary Care has organised the placement of a few benches recently and two are on order for December. Ted Gilfillan has helped with the application for another one to be placed at the Kariega Car Park. The benches are made from recycled plastic and are provided...

A threat to the ocean

A threat to the ocean

In 2020 alone, 1.6 billion disposable masks entered the ocean. This is equivalent to 7% of the size of the Great Garbage Plastic Patch and may take over 450 years to biodegrade.  At this rate, there risks being more masks than jellyfish in the ocean. COVID-19 has...

Membership subscriptions 2022

Membership subscriptions 2022

The Estuary Care Committee would like to send out a plea to all recipients of the newsletter to pay their annual subscription fees and to also encourage all other people they know who enjoy the Kariega and Boesmans Estuaries to join and pay their annual fee. The...

Update from our Chairman

Update from our Chairman

We begin the June 2021 newsletter with an important update from our Chairman, Stuart Clarkson. Dear Estuary Care Members and Friends In our last newsletter I reported on our ongoing efforts to secure a sustainable and low risk solution to the ongoing accretion of...

Lewis Pugh Foundation

Lewis Pugh Foundation

Our September 2018 Estuary Care Newsletter featured an article on Lewis Pugh. He had completed what he called The Long Swim which was from Land’s End in Cornwall to Dover in Kent to raise awareness about the health of the worlds oceans.  Read it hereA recent...

Channel Markers & Rock Marker

Channel Markers & Rock Marker

Dave Curran (top), with the help of Don Thomson (bottom) repaired and replaced a number of channel markers in the Kariega Estuary earlier this year.They also replaced the rock marker, which Dave had made, in the Kariega Estuary.Dave and his team install rocks...

June 2021 photos

June 2021 photos

Boesmans Estuary Courtesy of Rob BoydGiant Kingfisher photographed at Boesmans Estuary Courtesy Ted MossGiant Kingfisher photographed at Boesmans Estuary Courtesy Ted MossMiddle Beach low tide  Courtesy Colin Milliken Middle Beach low tide Courtesy Colin...

Channel Markers

Channel Markers

In January Dave Curran with the help of Don Thompson and their team set out to replace various channel markers in both estuaries.  Dave also made a replacement rock marker which was installed in the Kariega...

Repair of the Kenton Jetty

Repair of the Kenton Jetty

As was reported in the previous newsletter the Kariega Slipway Jetty broke loose in a storm and was retrieved by an Estuary Care team. After a covid interrupted process Chester Wilmot, Nick Albrightson and Dennis Dallas completed an extensive repair and...

A huge ball of plastic

A huge ball of plastic

A huge ball of plastic was found above the high tide mark between Middle and Main Beaches.  It probably washed ashore but we were determined it would not be washed back into the sea.  Our Chairman Stuart came to the rescue and removed...

Memorial Benches

Memorial Benches

Over the years Estuary Care has assisted members of the public with the purchase and placement of benches in memory of loved people (or pets!) or simply as a replacement for an existing municipal bench which has become worn or broken down. The procedure to be...

Membership subscriptions

Membership subscriptions

The Estuary Care Committee would like to send out a plea to all recipients of the newsletter to pay their annual subscription fees and to also encourage all other people they know who enjoy the Kariega and Boesmans Estuaries to join and pay their annual fee.

Dune report

Dune report

To inform our community and stakeholders of activities (Phase 1) undertaken by Ndlambe on the Kenton sand dune...