Waste tyres and wasted time

The saga surrounding the implementation of the Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan continues.

The Department of Environmental Affairs approved the Waste Tyre Management Plan of the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA) – as reported in the February 2012 edition of FOCUS – then came allegations of foul play.

It’s unclear if the allegations were aimed at REDISA or the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa

REDISA CEO Hermann Erdmann says his organisation was awarded the contract after a rigorous process in which it was considered alongside the South African Tyre Recycling Project (SATRP, an alternative plan). “Our plan was approved because it met all of Government’s requirements,” he says. “There was absolutely no foul play.”

According to Erdmann, it all boils down to a submission formatting technicality. He says Government, instead of including a full print-out of the plan in the gazette, supplied a link to an electronic version and a telephonic contact – which was technically incorrect to do. When this was challenged by the SATRP with the threat of court action, Government decided to withdraw its approval and re-gazette the matter to comply with this stipulation.

There were also allegations that the REDISA plan was stolen from the Retail Motor Industry organisation (RMI), which Erdmann disputes. He points out that the RMI itself believes no sector of the industry should have control. The Minister specifically stated that the plan must be independent of the tyre industry; the Competitions Commission echoed this; and, as Erdmann says, the RMI had objected to the SATRP plan because it would be dominated by tyre manufacturers.

He says one of REDISA’s key strengths is that it includes the informal sector. He believes too many initiatives create vacancies for those who have skills, saying it’s no use embarking on projects that will create work for those who are probably already employed. The country needs to create jobs for those who don’t have skills.

Think of those in the informal sector already involved in the collection of waste tyres – Erdmann puts the number at around 5 000. They work without any subsidisation, and many are barely surviving. The aim must be to include, involve and elevate such people.

“If an estimated R250 million per annum is injected into the transportation network focused on small operators, which REDISA aims to do, many of these collectors will be lifted out of bare survival mode,” he says. Thousands of jobs will be created. “We will provide training aimed at the most basic level, in regular small doses, to develop and formalise the transporters.” The plan will also provide funding for research and development, awareness campaigns, consumer education and social upliftment projects.

REDISA has received over 1 500 enquiries since its implementation was delayed. Add the 681 entrepreneurs and small businesses that have already registered for the plan, and you get an indication of how promising it is.

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