Global Trends in Waste Management: Some pointers for South Africa

by FAKIR, S, 2009
Research report, Centre for Poverty Employment and Growth, Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria

Fakir considers the growth and job-creating potential of the recycling industry. He reviews global trends in recycling, identifies innovations, and explores how these can be used in South Africa. The paper investigates the economic benefits of recycling, and suggests that waste should be seen as a national resource. The life cycle of materials is examined in order to explore how the end use of components can be incorporated into designs to minimise waste. Government should promote recycling through regulation and incentives. The benefits of recycling go beyond a reduction in landfill and in costs to the environment and to health, and include savings on energy expenditure, a reduced burden on mineral ore reserves, and job creation. But there are particular challenges related to the reuse of waste. South Africa faces a large informal sector, a diverse composition of waste, low levels of education, and inadequate infrastructure. In this environment, there are opportunities for low-tech solutions. There is also a need to deal with a broader range of recyclates and higher levels of electronic waste.