Since its inception in 2012, REDISA’s (the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa) government-backed national waste tyre project has diverted more than 125,000 tonnes of used tyres from landfill into new supply chains by subsidizing the collection and recycling process. The initiative is supporting 190 SMMEs and states it has created 2,505 new jobs across South Africa.

south africa tires
Source: The Guardian News

In the meantime, the rest of South Africa’s economy is having a tough time. With unemployment at a 10 year high, the country is struggling to escape the effects of the global financial crisis and companies keep on laying off workers in response to falling commodity prices.

Latest country figures show a 25% unemployment rate, with significant job losses in the manufacturing, finance and utilities industries. “Unemployment remains our single greatest economic and social challenge,” says Hermann Erdmann, CEO of REDISA. According to him the creation of green enterprise linked to the circular economy offers a real opportunity to help reverse this.

“Before REDISA existed, South Africa had a [waste tyre] recycling rate of 4%. We have been able to increase that to 19% by the end of 2014 and are well on our way to increase that [further] by the end of 2015,” says Erdmann.

The model works on the basis of producer responsibility. A weight-based levy is charged on tyres manufactured in or imported into the country, which funds the necessary infrastructure to recover waste tires and further research and development for innovation.

Currently working with two universities to explore new technologies for waste tyres, REDISA is continually assessing the potential to extend tyre life through the use of an environmental rating system.

The real success story, however, has been the scheme’s ability to economically empower poorer South Africans. According to company statistics, 98% of the 2,505 jobs created by REDISA have benefited previously disadvantaged individuals. In addition, 41% of workers are 18-35 year olds and 37% are women.

“[We] have been able to put 80% of revenue collected from the waste management fee back into local communities by creating a market for the handling of waste,” says Erdmann.

Article source: The Guardian