7.5 Emerging waste recycling trends, value addition and benefit chains
Recycling in Namibia was still at infancy and there was still greater scope in terms of areal expansion, recovery of recyclables and an increase in players in the industry i.e. the public, formal sector.
7. 5. 1. Emerging waste recycling trends
The following were observed as emerging issues:
• Bottles, plastics were laying all over at business centers along major roads in remote areas of Namibia due to lack of transport to ferry them to markets.
• Schools recycling completion programs sponsored by the corporate world were being promoted although the initiative was still dominant in urban environments only. The industry was working with local schools to instill in the children a sense of environmental awareness and entrepreneurship.
• Formal and informal sectors were working together moving from the traditional approach of indifference.
• Source collection of recyclables was being encouraged. Traditionally, recycling depended on individuals who carried any recyclables to drop off centers or simply discarding them together with non-recyclables. At the time of study, there were efforts by recycling companies to collect recyclables from sources of generation.
• E-waste recycling was only in Windhoek
7.5.2 Recycling value addition processes and products
Total value addition was still limited to plastics only. The rest of the products were exported mainly to South Africa for further processing and subsequent production of raw materials and goods. Pre-processing was the main activity after recovery and collection. Government through its industrialization policy is trying encouraging value addition on any raw material produced in Namibia. And recyclable raw material is not an option.
7.5.3 Benefits of recycling industry in Namibia
The main benefit associated with the industry was environmental with secondary raw material benefits at each stage of the recycling chain. Benefits spread across different the economic spectrum ranging from the National level, Local Authority level, company level and final at the individual through employment.
7.6 Establishment of operational network linkages in the industry.
There were linkages between the industry actors, suppliers, creditors, customers and logistic providers. Networks existed through flows of material, information, technology and financial links. Due to the infancy of the industry, outside networks were inevitable as these provided more of the markets as well as resources for the industry growth.
Following the revelation that the industry is still in its infancy the following recommendations could help the industry to grow.
1) The industry should be well supported especially with financial capital.
2) Cross border transporters of goods should be allowed to carry goods back and forth from Namibia without any restrictions.
3) There must be deposit incentive scheme to allow people not to throw away such items as bottles and to encourage the transporters of bottles to take back their empty bottles.
4) More education and awareness about the benefits of recycling is required if cooperation from industries and the general public is to improve.
5) There is need of national recycling policy and legislation in the country to promote growth of the industry. This way, everyone is held accountable.
6) Solid waste management is a challenge in some areas of the country. The study recommends adoption of the proposed Integrated Recycling model which can assist with some of the challenges being faced.
7) Plastic is the most recyclable material. It is however the most challenging material affecting the country. It is freely available in shops. Its disposal into the environment is worsened by inadequate sanitary facilities. There is need to control the availability of plastic if the problem of ‘plastic landscape’ is to be addressed.
8) The government should come up with a recycling fund to be funded by importers, producers and other financiers.
7.8 Contributions of the study
The aim of this study was to investigate the recycling industry an emerging economic sector involved in the recovery and production of raw materials, manufacturing and subsequent purchasing of produced goods in Namibia. This study provided an insight into formal recycling
business in Namibia; that is the motives for conducting this business and extent of involvement by the stakeholders involved and their roles, existing legal and regulatory framework and the possible economic, social and environmental impacts of the business. These results provide a
baseline for future studies on recycling solid waste in Namibia as well as act as a guide to decision makers at different levels to promote the industry for economic development.
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This research is valuable specifically for local authorities and the recycling companies. The presentation and analysis of recycling impacts based economic, social and environmental provides local authorities with a framework for understanding waste collection schemes and the wider issues related recycling systems. The research also answered questions about the environmental benefits of recycling at national level and the importance of legislation to facilitate recycling in a broader sense. The importance and understanding of logistics such as transport and networks for the recycling community allows one to derive deeper into the issues at the core of recycling. All this and more gives the research communities further understanding of the use of LCA methods and recycling logistics systems in general. Above all, this research provides insights to importers, retailers and packaging companies on the choices of packaging materials and the impacts of their decisions on the environment and recycling logistics systems required to avoid the burden of waste in particular country.
7.9 Areas for further research
The study identified the following areas for further research:
1. The study established that the industry of recycling in Namibia is operated by both formal and informal sectors. Focus of the study however was on formal sector recycling, leaving out the informal sector where, as far as this researcher is aware, no studies on informal sector recycling have been conducted. Future research could look into this area to establish its role.
2. An area that warrants research is the role of Buy –Back Centers in Namibia. One area which needs further attention is the role of buy-back centers in the recycling industry in Namibia. It would be beneficial to look at the role of buy-back center in material recovery in the recycling industry in Namibia.
3. It would also be beneficial to look at the role of women and children in waste picking in the recycling industry in Namibia since the study also established there dominant presence in the industry.
4. A possible topic for research is a survey on household source separation or Curbside Recycling.
5. More research is required on the human health and safety risks associated with informal waste recycling in Namibia. A better understanding of the needs of the informal population can influence legislation and public policies for better working regulations.
6. More research is needed to quantify the volumes of recycling and estimating the economic importance of the activity on a local, national and regional scale. If successful, this would bring about the realization of the benefits the sector brings and, through this recognition, would drive greater integration within the formal municipal collection system. Economic incentives could overcome this, however in some instances it may be social aspects that hinder achieving efficient recycling targets.
The main objective of the research was to investigate the recycling industry in Namibia and to establish how it could assist with the problem of waste management. Findings revealed that recycling in Namibia is still in its infancy, motivated by the desire to conduct business by recyclers and environmental protection by local authorities. Local Authorities are faced with financial constraints, shortage of waste collection vehicles and poor public participation. Recycling activities were mainly limited to material recovery collection and preprocessing with further processing done outside the country. However, the opportunities to considerably increase recycling within Namibia are significant.
Recycling activities were concentrated in major urban centers such as Windhoek, Keetmanshoop, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Oshakati and Ondangwa. Outside these main centres, some, companies were establishing operating branches and depots.
The Government agencies and a number of actors were behind recycling efforts in the country. Funding and support by the EIF were some of the Government efforts that could to promote the industry. Actors in the industry acted in different capacities e.g. as collectors, as recyclers/end use buyers, manufacturing and supporting recycling in Namibia. Private sector involvement in the industry was found to be growing. The proposed Integrated Recycling model is recommended to assist in promoting recycling and alleviating the problems of waste management smaller centers.
As environmental concerns continue to mount and virgin material continues to be depleted worldwide, recycling of solid waste is a promising industry for the future. The effort in Namibia should be supported and sustained for the growth of this emerging raw material industry.