By Marcelo Piva: Regional Sustainability Director – Middle East and Africa, Tetra Pak
THE global food system is a critical but often overlooked area of the climate issue. Government has recognised that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is the preferred vehicle to reduce waste generation and increase diversion from landfill.
We are fully-aligned with this view and believe that EPR is central to South Africa’s waste management strategy to minimise growing waste volumes. Allied to this is the circular economy, which is an essential part of sustainability.
But the commitment to recycling and sustainability cannot rest at the manufacturing stage. Litter, waste separation and collection bring a collective responsibility to society across the value chain from materials suppliers, manufacturers, packaging companies, and brand owners, right down to consumers.
During the Covid-19 pandemic the recycling rate declined and many operations were forced to scale down, or close their doors. Numerous recyclers were unable to operate at full capacity for several months during the past year due to lockdown regulations.
Yet recycling as a concept and practice should be actively encouraged. There is no question that barriers exist and that this is a complex road to navigate across the recycling stakeholder base. Collaboration across the value chain is of high importance in the industry as well as for the private-public sectors to join efforts in developing recycling solutions and implementing policies that support collection and recycling.
Tetra Pak is playing its part by manufacturing sustainable packaging and investing in recycling partners. We have invested in our Gayatri Paper Mills in Germiston to optimise the recycling line and increase capacity, and in our Pinetown plant. We are also developing a plastic prototype pallet containing a minimum of 30 percent polyAl material. Apart from these examples, we are exploring other opportunities that directly address recycling and sustainability.
We drive an active agenda to develop sustainable recycling value chains and believe this should become an area of greater focus and commitment across the value chain.
The floods in KwaZulu-Natal in April and late May clearly point to a world in trouble where the reality of climate change can no longer be ignored. Climate change has become a climate crisis, and now, more than ever, it needs a broad-based collaborative mitigation approach to halt further destruction.
It is no longer enough to talk about what should be done to address the climate crisis. It is time to take firm action across all sectors of society, and to work together and commit to building a framework that will support a stable future and shape it sustainably.