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The Future of Waste Solutions: 7 Ways to Repurpose or Reduce

By Bertie Lourens 16th April 2020 Waste Management

There’s not a person on the planet who wouldn’t agree: the beast of ‘business as usual’ is a very fragile species. In a few short weeks, Covid-19 has utterly transformed our worlds, leaving no rock of human society unturned. We now live on the other side of the Corona line, where we navigate a new normal in a time of tremendous disruption.

But wait, What does that mean for us?

As never before, there’s a need to re-think the way we do things, especially when it comes to waste management. What was once ‘food for thought’ regarding recycling, repurposing, and other cost-saving waste initiatives, are overnight business imperatives. 

The good news is, there are so many new ways for our businesses to think outside the box, save money, and lighten our carbon load in 2020. Here are just a few waste management innovations on the cards for this year:

1. Waste to energy: support strategically

Organic matter continues to be a great source of potential income generation. As mentioned in this post, organic waste within the general waste stream can account for as much as 55% of all waste. If separated at the source, this bulk of waste matter can then be diverted from landfill and used for a variety of other purposes, such as:

  • Composting

    Composting is an accessible, broad-scale solution to curb food waste and mitigate gas submissions. There are several smaller commercial operators that produce compost in most of the cities in South Africa. WastePlan can help direct you to the closest compliant composter that can receive and process your (de-contaminated) organic waste.

  • Anaerobic digestion

    By 2028 in the Western Cape, the disposal of all organic waste will be banned from landfills. This reality forces us to look at organics through the lens of opportunity, with an acute focus on what anaerobic digestion can offer as a great low-carbon energy alternative. Through this natural process, microorganisms convert organic matter into biogas and digested material, and keep the cycle closed and sustainable.

  • Insect bioconversion

    In a previous post, we highlighted how insects are proving effective as plastic munchers and source ingredients for protein-rich agricultural products that can replace carbon-heavy traditional protein like soy and fishmeal. Bugs can also be used as soil conditioners, wellbeing products, and can fuel the production of biodiesel. All these options result in value-add opportunities: your business can invest in high-demand commodities that add value and reduce your overall waste. Contact us to learn more.

2. Recycling: think wider

Recycling continues to be a profitable and important industry ever on the rise. As sustainable business and eco-consciousness grows, so too will the demand for recycled products. The more your business can widen its recycling investments, the more you will capitalise on potential new market opportunities and save costs

There are a number of areas where  you can unlock fresh income from recycling, ranging from e-waste to scrap metal recycling, to upcycling your office equipment. Get creative, and let WastePlan help you explore your options.

3. Plant-based products: shop smarter

There is a growing demand for plant-based, biodegradable products - so much so that the production of bio-based resins rose in 2017 by approximately 19%. These renewable, plant-based materials are being used in packaging, household cleaning supplies, building materials - even furniture. And through these kinds of purchases, we can move our businesses toward more sustainable and responsible consumer behaviour that supports the circular bioeconomy.

4. SA Plastics Pact: join the club

There’s another reason to be proudly South African these days: SA has joined the global Plastics Pact network as the first African nation! Through this worldwide initiative, SA businesses, government, and NGOs are working together to reduce their plastic appetites and move towards a circular economy for plastic. Their 2025 commitment: 100% of all plastic packaging can be reused, recycled or composted; 70% of plastic packaging will be effectively recycled; and 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging.

Your business can make a real and positive difference - join the SA Plastics Pact and help rewrite the future of our plastics economy. Sign up here

5. Lower your bill: start with the obvious

When it comes to lightening your carbon footprint, start by unpacking your water and energy habits. See where you can save and cut down on consumption. LED and fluorescent lights, as well as UID lights for large spaces, are better energy choices. Replace old equipment with energy star rated equipment. Investigate the savings benefits of solar geysers; ensure that your toilets, faucets and temperature gauges are operating efficiently. Work with your team to develop a culture of shared responsibility when it comes to green business. The small steps can take you far.

6. Way out there: think big

And for those of you who are die hard committed (and resourced) to achieving zero waste, there are some pretty ‘out there’ innovations on the up and up. One exciting new technology on the rise is pyrolysis. A thermochemical treatment that can be applied to any organic (carbon-based) product, this treatment takes common waste and converts it into useful everyday materials, such as methanol, activated carbon, charcoal, synthetic gas, building material, and feedstock. 

At the moment there are a few South African companies who plan to work with this technology. Talk to us, and we can help connect you to these plants once commissioned.

7. Waste2Brick

Expect a new innovation in the mix. Waste2Brick is an exciting innovation, developed overseas and will be deployed soon on the SA waste management landscape. The plant is in the later stages of development, and promises good returns on investments once successfully up and running. 

Again, keep us close so we can keep you informed of your investment options in Waste2Brick technology. Remember that recycling is still an important part of keeping our waste to landfill limited. Download our recycling vs non-recycling infographic to find out what you can and can’t recycle.


Are you interested in learning more about recycling? Click on the link below to download our handy recyclable infographic.


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Bertie Lourens

Author Bertie Lourens

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