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Waste can grow South Africa’s economy

South Africa’s waste sector has the potential to grow the economy, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa. He told attendees at the official launch of the Good Green Deeds campaign in East London that South Africa’s waste industry has the potential to create jobs and empower small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs).

“This is a sector that has the potential to create 69,000 new jobs and empower more SMMEs and cooperatives,” Ramaphosa says. The Good Green Deeds initiative aims to improve environmental consciousness and awareness of waste across all sectors of society.

The South African government is working to unlock more grants and loans for waste management companies and environmental organisations. Local, provincial and national governments are partnering with agencies, businesses, research institutions and non-governmental organisations to contribute to the improvement of environmental standards and waste management services.

Waste management companies tackle unemployment

The waste sector not only supports families of official employees but it also provides a source of income for informal pickers. If more SMMEs are empowered to enter the market, it will benefit the South African economy and help to keep the country free of litter and waste pollution. When waste management companies thrive, employees are happy to work harder.

“Going to work is a joy as we know that when the company makes money, we also make money. We perform our tasks with enthusiasm because growing the company will also improve our lives,” says general waste management worker Sivenkosi Nazo. 

Waste management companies can help to address unemployment in cities and rural areas in South Africa. “When I am walking on the streets and I see plastic I now pick it up. Plastic is gold, it represents money, people should value plastic and it can feed families,” Nazo explains.

South Africa’s green economy supported by businesses

The government has announced a National Development Plan that focuses on low-carbon and sustainable practices for industry to follow. This will reduce the negative effects of climate change that are already starting to be felt in South Africa.

“Through our National Waste Management Strategy we want to increase the contribution to the green economy of the waste sector,” says President Ramaphosa. Over the next five years, the government has outlined steps that will enable businesses across all sectors to deliver results and improve their sustainability.

“They include increasing the total contribution of the waste economy from R24.3 billion to R35.8 billion and creating 127 000 new direct and indirect jobs,” explains Ramaphosa. “The plans also include providing support to 4300 SMMEs with 70% targeted at youth and at least 30% targeted at women; and ultimately seeing more than 20 million tonnes of waste diverted from landfill,” he continues.

The President says that the partnerships between government and the private sector will be drivers of success for these initiatives. “We received pledges from a number of companies outlining their commitment to green economy initiatives. I want to applaud business for having come on board to be part of this campaign and want to encourage those who have not already done so to get in touch,” Ramaphosa concludes.

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Written by Joshua Oates

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