Our waste tyre management plan - Edna Molewa

Minister says plan will be funded through R2.30/kg levy on all tyres imported or made

Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, briefs the media on the approved Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan (IIWTMP) prepared and submitted by Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA)

17 Jan 2012

South Africa is considered as one of the fastest growing economies and the economic growth is realised through the bulk industrial production of goods to meet the socio-economic needs of a growing population.

With increased production to cater for the needs of 49 million South Africans, we can safely conclude that the tonnage of waste produced annually will also increase. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that our country had an unfortunate past of fragmented waste management.

However, government has, through the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), developed and amended legislation to address the general waste management problem in this country. This process has resulted in the development of the Cabinet approved National Waste Management Strategy which is the Masterplan of how the legislation will be implemented.

The implementation of various pieces of legislation in collaboration with provinces and municipalities and the private sector over the past few years is starting to produce the results we anticipated. The implementation of the waste tyre management plan follows the same winning approach of the government working together with industry to solve environmental problems.

Waste tyres are bulky, designed to be tough and durable and once they are no good as tyres they are difficult to cut up, hard to store or transport, and difficult to recycle in an economically viable manner. Their nature doesn't allow for compression or folding in order to reduce the space they occupy during disposal at landfills and they take too long to degrade.

Over 200 000 tonnes of tyres become waste tyres in South Africa annually. About 11 million used tyres are dumped illegally or burnt to retrieve the steel wire in the tyre. With this figure estimated to increase by around 9.5 % annually, the country has a serious waste tyre problem.

Presently, waste tyres are piling up in illegal storage sites all over the country presenting health and fire hazards. As government, we have responded to the challenge by introducing legislation which is centred around the need to provide, at the start of the product life cycle, for the cost of proper management of waste to the environment.

The department promulgated Waste Tyre regulations that took effect on 30 June 2009, compelling tyre producers to register with the Minister and prepare and submit an Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan (IIWTMP).

The regulations stipulate timeframes within which both the registration with the department as well as the submission of the plans should be made. In order to ensure compliance to these time frames, the department required all producers to indicate whether they intended registering with an existing plan (even though none was approved at the time) or to submit their own plan. 

This was to ensure that the process of developing plans would not be drawn out indefinitely as both government and industry require certainty in this regard. Only two plans passed the initial screening: the South African Tyre Recycling Process (SATRP) and the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative South Africa (REDISA). These plans were interrogated thoroughly against the requirements of the Regulations and a decision to approve the REDISA plan was made.

The two plans were subjected to the same process as prescribed by the regulations, including engagements/feedback by the department and other stakeholders. In the final analysis, the Minister of the Department of Environmental Affairs approved the REDISA plan because this plan addresses the stipulated requirements adequately. 

The SATRP plan however excluded some of the key issues which had been negotiated with them over the long consultation process which took place with the department. Examples of such issues include the inadequate consideration of the Waste Hierarchy, which is the cornerstone of waste legislation in the country. In addition, the plan failed to address the inclusion and development of previously disadvantaged communities, which are currently involved in the informal tyre sector. 

The Waste Tyre Regulations specify the minimum requirements of the contents of an IIWTMP. Incorporation of the Waste hierarchy, identification of waste tyre processors, storage sites, processors, social responsibility efforts and costs are amongst the minimum requirements.

It must be made clear to all that the REDISA Plan gives effect to the Tyre Regulations, the Waste Act and its Waste Management Strategy. REDISA's mandate is the collection, transportation and management of waste tyres in line with government's objective to deal with industrial waste.

The REDISA plan integrates government mandate to create sustainable jobs through small, micro and medium enterprises. It aims to remove 200 000 tonnes annually of waste tyres that are polluting our country and creating a health hazard. This will be done by subsidising the collection and management of waste tyres and in the process giving entrepreneurs and individuals an incentive to find and remove waste tyres from their communities and deliver them to a collection point.

The primary focus of the plan is to involve previously disadvantaged communities as well as existing informal collectors in the management of waste tyres.

A network of collection depots and recyclers will be established. The REDISA plan aims to create approximately 15 000 job opportunities- of which 5000 are currently involved in the informal sector.

This plan will be funded through a per-kilogram levy on tyres manufactured in or imported into South Africa. The rand per-kilogram cost is determined on the basis of all operational and capital costs required to make the plan work and is currently estimated at R2.30/kg.

One part of the operating costs of the REDISA Plan will be devoted to training and support of the Informal and Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises whilst another component will be allocated to Research and Development to advance and ensure the sustainability of recycling processes.

The department in consultation with the Competition Commission has laid down very strict requirements to ensure the independence and public accountability of REDISA. In our experience this independence is vital to ensure that the process of managing waste or any environmental problem is not subordinated to narrow industry interests. Furthermore, the implementation of the REDISA Plan must maintain confidentiality of market sensitive data and ensure that no competitive advantage is given to any one industry player.

Present regulations oblige tyre producers to register with the DEA; producers will use this registration number to subscribe to the REDISA plan. REDISA will appoint external auditors for a period of five years; all subscribers will on a monthly basis provide the external accounting company with a declaration of their tyre production including rejects, imports and exports. Furthermore, all subscribers will provide annual audit certificates reflecting the monthly declarations.

In order to manage waste tyres effectively, a national centralised computer system will be established and used to capture data on the tyres collected and treated, money collected and spent, jobs created, businesses established and the impact on the national carbon footprint of tyres.

Essentially, the plan is focussed on creating a cleaner South Africa by sustainably dealing with waste tyres.

In conclusion, the REDISA plan took effect on 1 December 2011 and applies uniformly in all provinces of the Republic of South Africa binding upon producers, transporters, dealers and processors of tyres.

All relevant stakeholders in accordance with the Waste Tyre Regulations of 2009 (producers, transporters, dealers and processors of tyres) must align themselves and ensure compliance with the approved plan within 60 days from the implementation date (i.e. by 31 January 2012).

Letters were sent to all relevant stakeholders and newspaper adverts were also placed in national papers to ensure that everyone was aware and would therefore comply. Importers should take note that failure to comply with the approved plan will result in the inability to import tyres into South Africa. Furthermore, the Regulations provide additional penalties that will be administered to all who do not comply.

Statement issued by Albi Modise, Department of Environmental Affairs, January 17 2012

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