PORT ELIZABETH – The contentious issue of land expropriation, the proper management of dwindling water resources to ensure food security, and the impact that climate change will have on coastal communities will be among the hot topics when the Eastern Cape’s farmers gather for their 17th annual congress later this week. Provincial agricultural body Agri Eastern Cape will play host to the conference in Jeffreys Bay on Thursday and Friday, which features a line-up of speakers that includes academics and industry experts who are set to address the major issues affecting farming in the province. Keynote speaker Angelo Fick will launch proceedings with an in-depth look at the complexities of land issues. Fick, who is the director of research at the Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute (ASRI), is also known for his role as a senior researcher and news analyst. In response to the land question, Fick will discuss how changes in ownership structures demand creative thinking to solve this multi-faceted problem. “There are two conflicting aspects to land expropriation. We are trapped by politicians who are working towards their own agendas which, I believe, are influenced strongly by the upcoming elections, and also by land owners who are afraid of change,” said Fick. “But all the talk about who owns the land misses the point. You also have tenant farm workers whose ancestors were buried on the farm, and who will be buried there themselves. They, and their children, attended school on the land. There is a sense of history and they need to be afforded some kind of rights. “However, while there is a still a long way to go, there are already structures in place, models which are already working, under which land owners co-operate with tenants, and vice-versa, to achieve harmony.” With the prolonged drought currently wreaking havoc in parts of the Eastern Cape, the importance of water in ensuring food security is another critical issue under the spotlight. . . .
JOHANNESBURG – Recycling SMMEs received support from the PET recycling sector on Friday (July 13) in the form of equipment that will enable their effective participation in the mandatory recycling programme launched by the City of Ekurhuleni this month. This follows concerns from small industry players and informal waste collectors that they could be sidelined by the new “separation-at-source” municipal recycling initiative. PET plastic bottle producer Serioplast and the PET Recycling Company (PETCO) donated the equipment – baling machines, industrial platform scales and signage – to local SMMEs with the aims of improving the collection, weighing and baling of recyclable material for resale to recycling businesses. More beneficiaries are set to receive similar donations from PETCO in the coming weeks. The Gauteng-based small businesses included Ekhuliza Gauteng Primary Cooperative and CJU Environmental Management in Boksburg and Lakhwisha Holdings in Vosloorus. Speaking after the event, which was hosted in partnership with the City of Ekurhuleni, PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz said the citywide household recycling initiative was a positive step forward in creating a recycling consciousness among ordinary South Africans. “It is also an important opportunity for local government and industry stakeholders to develop meaningful strategies for waste reduction as well as an inclusive framework that facilitates participation and creates income-generating opportunities for businesses of all sizes,” she said. Scholtz said PET recycling had been particularly effective in creating a “circular economy”, with plastic water and soft drink bottles offering post-consumer value to waste collectors and recyclers, while also reducing producers’ need for virgin PET material. “The hard work and efforts of all players in the PET value chain – from brand owners and producers to individual waste pickers – allowed us to recycle 2.15 billion bottles in . . .
CAPE TOWN – Industry stakeholders across South Africa’s PET plastic value chain have reaffirmed their commitment to extended producer responsibility with three key appointments to the national PET Recycling Company (PETCO) board. Nominated by the industry sectors they represent, the newly elected non-executive board members will serve a voluntary three-year term. Representing the retail sector, Lisa Ronquest, head of food technology for Woolworths, replaces retired colleague Tom McLaughlin, while Kevin O’Brien, who is the risk and sustainability executive for the SPAR Group, assumes the position vacated by Pick n Pay’s general manager for sustainability, André Nel. In addition, the board has appointed independent expert Professor Linda Godfrey, who is the CSIR’s principal scientist for waste research development and innovation, to contribute to the strategic oversight of PET recycling and assist with the development of an industry waste management plan. PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz welcomed the new directors, who join existing members representing the entire value chain – from brand owners, bottlers and resin producers to converters, retailers, recyclers and collectors. “It’s wonderful to have the broader commitment of industry players throughout the value chain on our board,” said Scholtz. She said the non-profit organisation was a good example of voluntary extended producer responsibility in action. “More than 15 years ago, industry players got together to develop a model to take care of their product at the end of its life cycle. PETCO takes collective responsibility for this on their behalf, while the oversight rests with the obliged industry.” Members pay a voluntary recycling fee on every tonne of raw material purchased, which last year enabled PETCO’s contracted recycling partners to pay out R430 million to collectors for baled bottles delivered to their plants. Scholtz said the organisation had achieved consistent . . .
PORT ELIZABETH – THE South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) marked the International Day of the Seafarer by officially opening its new national headquarters in Nelson Mandela Bay today (June 25). The institute, which is based on the Ocean Sciences Campus of Nelson Mandela University in Summerstrand, operates under a government mandate to assist in growing the “blue economy” by facilitating maritime skills development through relationships between industry stakeholders and education and training institutions countrywide. Dignitaries at the opening were guided through SAIMI’s role in the city and the global maritime sector, which includes everything from aquaculture and fisheries to coastal and marine tourism, shipping and off-shore oil and gas exploration. “We are thrilled to be operating from our first permanent ‘home port’,” said SAIMI chief executive officer Professor Malek Pourzanjani. “But this is just the beginning for us, with our eventual aim being to have a presence in all South Africa’s coastal cities. “In fact, there is already a satellite office at the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town, with a Durban branch in the pipeline. “This planned expansion will position us well to ensure that we continue to play a vital role in South Africa’s oceans economy.” The Institute also aims to strengthen maritime education and research through facilitating co-ordination and co-operation among education providers, a role which is enhanced by now being based at the Ocean Sciences Campus. Delivering an address on behalf of NMU vice-chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa, SAIMI advisory board member Dr Oswald Franks – who is also dean of the faculty of engineering, built environment and information technology – said the opening of the national head office represented significant a milestone in the development of SAIMI, which launched in 2014. “It also represents a significant commitment to the national agenda of growing the oceans . . .
Kouga Wind Farm ushered in Global Wind Day on Friday by announcing that the R4-million custom-built library and IT centre that it is building for the Sea Vista community outside St Francis Bay is on track to open in October. Celebrating the announcement are community members (from left) Babalwa Sahluko, Nozuko Ntshota and Ragel Goeda, who themselves have benefited from another of the wind farm’s community projects – the Rainmakers women empowerment programme. The seven-month programme has seen groups of women from the Sea Vista, Umzamowethu, KwaNomzamo and Kruisfontein communities undergoing specific skills development and business training, to equip them to identify and implement impactful upliftment projects in their communities. CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
DROUGHT-hit farmers in the Gamtoos River Valley have had their already stringent water allocations from the Kouga Dam – the largest in the region – halved for the 2018/19 water year, it was announced late on Thursday. With Kouga Dam at only 7.7% capacity on Friday, this means that farmers will now be forced to operate on 20% of what would be their full irrigation quota for the new water year, which starts in July. This is set to have a significant impact on fruit and vegetable production in the valley, as farmers will not be planting “cash crops” and will be forced to leave older, less productive citrus orchards to die off. The little water they have will be dedicated to the preservation of younger, premium orchards, according to valley farmer and Gamtoos Irrigation Board (GIB) chairman Tertius Meyer. This follows Thursday’s annual meeting between officials from the national and provincial departments of water and sanitation, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and GIB, which manages the dam. Meyer said the greater part of Kouga Dam’s water supply was given to sustaining agriculture in the valley, with the remainder forming a critical part of Nelson Mandela Bay’s water supply. There had been mixed reaction to the news from local farmers, whose allocation for the current water year had already been restricted to 40% of their normal consumption, Meyer said. Many, he said, had in fact been expecting more drastic measures to be introduced. GIB financial and human resources manager Rienette Colesky said the department had done its best to balance the needs of farmers with creating a sustainable supply to the surrounding towns and cities. “Curtailing water use is vital to prevent dam failure at this stage,” she said. Unlike many dams, Kouga is built in such a way that the outlet is low enough to prevent “dead storage” and can be used up to the 0% level, Colesky said. The last time the dam was at full capacity and overflowing was in December . . .
As the second most polluted continent, Africa must take both the responsibility and opportunity to pioneer world-leading waste management methods to avoid an environmental and socio-economic disaster, experts warn. This was the message from environmental scientist Dr Tony Ribbink, who was speaking at the annual general meeting of the PET Recycling Company (PETCO) at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on Thursday (June 7). Ribbink, chief executive officer of the Sustainable Seas Trust, believes that while there is a certain amount of gloom and doom surrounding the pollution problem, a lot of good is also being done*. “As the second most polluted continent, Africa is in clear danger of taking top spot unless responsibility for the crisis is shouldered at all levels,” said Ribbink, a former director of the World Bank GEF project on Lake Malawi/Nyasa for Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. But, he said, Africa was also pioneering new methods and activities to counter plastic pollution. “Industry is also becoming more committed to sustainability and finding solutions where previously there appeared to be none.” South African bottlers, who are voluntary members of PETCO, are increasingly assisting with the drive to improve recycling rates. Annual PET plastic bottle recycling increased to 65% of all bottles produced in the country in 2017 – up from 55% in 2016, according to recently released figures. This equates to 2.15 billion bottles recycled in 2017, which created 64 000 income-generating opportunities for recyclers and waste collectors participating in what is termed the “circular economy”, while also freeing up 578 000m3 of dwindling landfill space, PETCO announced in May. PETCO CEO Cheri Scholtz said these figures put South African PET recycling on par with global standards and that the organisation had set an ambitious recycling target of 70% by 2020. Even more significant, said Scholtz, was that approximately 96% of all PET bottles recovered in . . .
The South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) has announced the appointment of Soraya Artman to steer its operational side, as it seeks to strengthen partnerships within the South African maritime sector and beyond. Previously the senior manager of finance for the Nelson Mandela University Business School, Artman brings a wealth of experience in finance and corporate governance within a research-driven organisation to her new role as director of operations. “One of SAIMI’s overarching aims is to be a national institute which is recognised nationally and internationally. To achieve this, we need to partner with all universities, colleges and private training providers who have an interest in maritime affairs,” Artman said. “This will help South Africa pursue its national interest in growing maritime economic participation. We also need to grow and enhance SAIMI’s education and training portfolio and services to the maritime industry.” Headquartered in Port Elizabeth, SAIMI was established through funding support from the National Skills Fund, to coordinate the development and implementation of a national skills development plan for the maritime sector. It also provides a link between industry and training and academic institutions to ensure that education and training programmes meet the needs of the maritime sector. Artman said her role would be to implement and improve processes to ensure efficient operations within SAIMI to facilitate its founding purpose. “The goal is to ensure that SAIMI remains both visible and accessible. As such we will be reaching out to all stakeholders with whom SAIMI could have mutually beneficial collaborations and partnerships,” she said. “I envision SAIMI as an institute that supports a world-class culture of business growth and responsiveness to the market, which promotes learning, that is at the forefront of knowledge generation in the sector and that provides an environment for employee growth, . . .
Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern described last week’s landmark agreement between the organisation and the provincial Department of Roads and Public Works as a victory for rural road users in the province. In a letter to Eastern Cape farmers, Stern said the agreement, which was endorsed by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, will see Agri EC becoming a formal contributor to the annual provincial budgetary process on roads. “Being granted this facility is highly unusual,” said Stern. “It means that we will be able to make representation and assist in identifying which rural roads require the most urgent attention.” Going forward, he said it was agreed that the organisation would now meet with the Department of Transport’s roads division on a quarterly basis to discuss maintenance programmes on the roads affecting rural farming communities. Stern said a sum of R15 million had been earmarked for urgent road repairs within the next six months. “Should the department run out of money and not be able to allocate the agreed budget, the agreement provides that they must approach both the national and provincial Treasury and all other stakeholders they consider necessary to fulfil their undertaking.” It was also agreed that there would be ongoing judicial supervision by the High Court in Grahamstown of progress made on road repairs and maintenance by the Department of Roads, he said. “The Court has ordered that all costs relating to this case are carried by the Department, which, in my opinion, is significant and constitutes a victory for both our members and rural road users in the Eastern Cape,” said Stern. He said the agreement did not provide for compensation for individual farmers who had undertaken rural road maintenance at their own cost. CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
A record 2.15 billion plastic bottles, weighing in at 93 235 tonnes, were recycled by the South African PET plastic industry in 2017 – saving 578 000m3 of landfill and creating 64 000 income-generating opportunities in the process. This is according to national industry body PETCO, which is responsible for fulfilling the sector’s mandate of extended producer responsibility (EPR). The figures equate to a post-consumer bottle recycling rate of 65%, representing a 3% year-on-year increase in tonnage despite tough trading conditions and a 13% fall in the total PET market, which was affected by economic volatility and industrial strike action in 2017. PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz said the organisation was thrilled with the latest figures, which puts South Africa on par with international recycling rates. “Our partnerships with industry players, who demonstrate a keen and genuine commitment to recycling, is what makes results like these possible,” said Scholtz. “Through the remarkable network of people, companies and organisations we work with, 5.9 million PET bottles were collected for recycling across South Africa every day during the course of 2017, creating thousands of income-generating opportunities for small and micro-collectors, and changing their lives and those of their families in immeasurable ways.” Scholtz said PETCO members paid a voluntary recycling fee on every tonne of raw material purchased, which funds their efforts and supports a sustainable recycling industry. Since the organisation’s incorporation in 2004, a total of R2.3 billion has been paid by contracted recyclers to collectors for baled bottles, with a total of 609 306 tonnes of PET recycled to date. This has saved more than 900 000 tonnes of carbon and almost four million cubic metres of landfill space. Nokubonga Mnyango, who owns Uthando Solutions and Trading in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal, is one of the many PET collectors who have contributed to these . . .