Circular Energy is a pioneering responsible waste management not-for-profit registered as a producer responsibility organisation with the department of forestry, fisheries and the environment. The nonprofit’s mission is to promote the principles of the circular economy while ensuring zero harm to the environment. In terms of legislation, producers are responsible for ensuring that their products are diverted from landfills. Landfills throughout the country are closing because they are full, and the remaining landfills are filling up rapidly.
Circular Energy has a nationwide take-back scheme for various waste materials, ensuring their safe collection, recycling and environmentally sound management. The company collects a wide range of waste materials, including but not limited to electrical and electronic equipment, batteries, lighting and lighting equipment, e-waste, paper and packaging products, as well as lubricant oils. It assists its members in a number of ways, including to meet their compliance obligations for their waste products, as specified in section 18 (1) of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act. The company helps its members in designing and overseeing take-back systems, assists them in achieving recycling targets and maintains records for waste electrical and electronic equipment, batteries, lighting, and packaging. Its members range from Woolworths, Crabtree, Ellies Electronics, Kolok and the Mr Price Group to Scuderia Ferrari, Siemens, BioEnviro, Yuppiechef, Oilkol and Canadian Solar. Circular Energy also integrates waste pickers through partnerships, conducts awareness and collection campaigns, offers training and skills development programmes and supports small, medium and micro enterprises focusing on youth, women and disadvantaged people.
What’s been your/the organisation’s greatest achievement in your field?
Established a successful nationwide consumer/household collection system of electric and electronic waste and waste batteries for environmentally sound processing and recycling.
Please provide specific examples of how your organisation’s practices and work have a positive effect on the environment
Diversion of significant tonnages of electrical or electronic waste, lighting, and battery waste from landfill, and ensuring best environmental practice for managing these waste streams. The materials recovered from the recycling processes are used in secondary markets, thereby supporting circular economy principles.
What are some of the biggest environmental challenges faced by South Africans today?
Alternatives to landfill and diversion of recoverable or recyclable resources from landfill must be prioritised. Too much waste is not being managed in an environmentally sound manner creating environmental damage and a high risk to human health.
Our theme this year is Celebrating Environment Heroes. What do you believe could be the repercussions for millions of people in South Africa and the continent if we do not tackle problems exacerbated by climate change, encompassing issues like drought, floods, fires, extreme heat, biodiversity loss, and pollution of air and water?
If South Africans are not made aware of and do not act as a collective to save our natural heritage and prevent environmental degradation, it will have a severe effect on biodiversity and natural beauty. As we are a country surrounded by oceans, we must also prioritise the protection of the oceans because these have a significant influence on the climate and environmental health of our inland areas. Everything is linked and it is our responsibility as not only South African citizens but as global citizens to act individually, and collectively in any way possible to effect change so that we can protect the natural environment for the prosperity of future generations.