Non-Aligned Movement has constantly addressed issues of environmental concerns in the developing countries. In this context, NAM has focussed on the theme of waste management as an integral part of the sustainable development process. Waste management or waste disposals are all the activities and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal. This includes amongst other things collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste together with monitoring and regulation. It also encompasses the legal and regulatory framework that relates to waste management encompassing guidance on recycling.
South Africa’s commitment to sustainable development is aimed at balancing the broader economic and social challenges of a developing and unequal society while protecting environmental resources. For the waste sector in South Africa, this means care must be given to raw material use, product design, resource efficiency, waste prevention, and minimization where avoidance is impossible.
The South African Waste Information System (SAWIS) developed by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in 2005, is a system used by government and industry to capture routine data on the tonnages of waste generated, recycled and disposed of in South Africa on a monthly and annual basis.
With the ever- increasing pollution in the form of landfill waste from various technological industries, the textile industry and others, it has become necessary for the government of various countries to take necessary steps towards waste management in a sustainable fashion. To start working towards this goal, the government of South Africa has launched the country’s first research chairs on waste management. With the launch of these research chairs, the government hopes to not only transform the waste management sector, but to also help with the country’s socio- economic development.
This step has been taken as a result of government’s initiative to significantly transform the waste sector, which would help create jobs and other business opportunities at every level and supporting efficiency of the industries involved.
The newly launched research chairs are the South African Research Chair in Waste and Climate, and the South African Research Chair in Waste and Society. The research chairs were launched in Pretoria on 15th August, Wednesday, under the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI). Both the chairs will be headed by Professor Christina Trois form the University of KwaZulu- Natal and Professor Catherina Schenck from the University of Western Cape respectively.
Almost 65 percent of municipal organic waste, almost 100 percent of commercially exploitable biomass from agriculture and food processing sectors play a big part in the greenhouse gas emissions. Waste and society and waste and climate are the two important areas of focus for the South African Waste, Research, Development and Innovation Roadmap.
Professor Linda Godfrey, who is managing the Waste RDI Roadmap Implementation Unit at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, insists that there needs to be a significant change in the way we manage our waste, which requires a great understanding of waste behaviour and appropriate behaviour change interventions. Godfrey welcomed the appointment of women for this endeavour. She said, “It is also opportune that these two chairs are being launched in August, Women’s Month, a celebration of women who have been instrumental in rewriting South Africa’s story.”
The Director for Environmental Services and Technologies at the Department of Science and Technology Dr Henry Roman said during the launch that there needs to be research on the impact of climate change on the sector, potential impact of waste on climate and appropriate mitigation technologies for South Africa. He also said: “Given the challenges and opportunities facing South Africa with respect to waste, and the role of research, development and innovation in supporting the sector’s transition, the DST is proud to launch the first two research chairs in solid waste management in South Africa I partnership with National Research Foundation and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.”