SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This chapter presents a summary of the findings; conclusion and the recommendations of the research study. The summary is arranged according to the themes of the research: the motives of recycling by companies, extent of involvement in the industry, policies and regulatory framework of the industry, recycling trends, benefit chains, value addition and network linkages within the industry. According to Bless and Higson-Smith (1995) the purpose of this chapter is to summarize the aims of the research, compare them with the findings and draw conclusions on how much and in which manner, the goal has been achieved. The recommendations include a model to guide waste management in rural and urban centers in Namibia and areas for further research.
The summary is presented using the thematic headings as used in chapter 4.
7.2.1. Motives of Companies in solid waste recycling in Namibia
It turned out that all of the companies interviewed said recycling was conducted for environmental reasons. 86% of companies involved directly in recycling said they were recycling as a business venture. Two companies (J and F) said they were doing it for social reasons. Recycling is an expensive venture with very low returns. It also requires a constant supply of working capital to feel the gap between export receipts. Although all of participants were recycling for environmental reasons, it was clear that everyone who was recycling was doing it as a business venture. It is evident from the findings that a lot of companies came on board when recycling started, but at the time of study, some had pulled out due to lack of sufficient working capital.
Recycling activities were driven by environmental and economic forces. Environmentally, companies felt waste was an environmental threat if not taken care of properly. Taking heed of the recommendations of the Earth Summit of 1992, the government of Namibia had embraced recycling All companies involvement was hinged on this environmental requirement. Despite the importance of the environmental movement, companies were driven by the economic entrepreneurial spirit. Recycling was viewed as a business like any other, thus actors felt there was potential to make profit in the new arena of business as demand for the different products for purposes of reuse and raw material production was present.
7.2.2 Extent of involvement of companies in solid waste recycling in Namibia.
Recycling involves three main steps as (Hickman, 2009) states: step 1-collection and processing, step 2-manufacturing; step 3-purchasing of new products made from the recycled materials to complete the recycling loop. There were five distinct areas of involvement observed, which are collection, preprocessing, processing, manufacturing and selling. Companies e.g. A, F,G, N, E, K were involved in the collection and preprocessing stage which is part of step 1 of the recycling loop, while very few were involved in processing raw materials and manufacturing of recycled goods. In Namibia, only plastics completed the recycling loop, but the rest of the recyclables are simply pre-processed and sent abroad for further processing and subsequent production of raw materials and new products. Materials handled were paper, e-waste, glass, aluminum and metal cans and scrap metals. Low waste volumes, lack of machinery, skills shortage, transport costs and financial constraints were some of the reasons identified for not having full scale recycling of most materials in the country. Transport challenges affected the ferrying of materials from sources further afield to the markets. Transport is quite costly. Thus most recycling companies were mainly involved in step I of the recycling loop and very few in steps 2.
7.2.3 Policies guiding waste recovery and recycling
At the time of study there was no direct national policy on recycling in Namibia. However, some elements of recycling were embedded in the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) Waste management policy which was promoting waste minimization. Waste minimization is one of the elements of the Waste Management Hierarchy which was promoted through Agenda 21 at the Rio Summit of 1992. At local level, only the Capital City of Windhoek had a policy promoting recycling as an environmental concern not as a source of raw material or business venture. However, other local authorities were also encouraging recycling but the researcher could not establish any policy documents to that effect.
7.2.4 Legislation guiding waste recovery and recycling
The study established that there was no direct stand alone legislation governing the operations of recycling in the country. The researcher identified elements of recycling legislation from the Environmental Management Act, Health Act, Water Act and City by-laws. All companies were aware of Council by-laws and the general laws that governed company operations for example, as Labor Act, Employment Act, and the Standard Quality Act. In order to incentivize the industry, legislation would be required to compel individuals, businesses and companies to participate in recycling.
7.2.5 Emerging waste recycling trends.
Recycling has always been in existence in the country but mostly driven by the informal sector. Full scale recycling was formally promoted around the year 2000 through the initiative of a few private companies who started encouraging the use of drop off centers at major shopping malls in Windhoek. In 2010, recycling was introduced by the City of Windhoek, working in partnership with the private companies. There was involvement of the ward contractors, collection of recyclables from households, businesses and institutions and integration of the waste pickers and the formal sector. These efforts were also spread out to towns such as Walvis Bay (2012) and Swakopmund (2015).
Little statistical information was obtained from companies about the recyclable volumes. CoW’s limited records highlighted that very little recycling was taking place with only about six percent of waste generated in the residential areas being recycled due to lack of cooperation from residents leaving most of the recyclables to be disposed at dumpsites, a situation which was of concern to Council authorities and recycling companies.
The initiative to promote recycling witnessed the establishment of a plastic processing plant in Okahandja, which paved way to full recycling of plastics in Namibia as well as the introduction of Material Recovery Facilities (MRF). The world economic downturn around the time of study resulted in stagnant growth in volumes of materials exported especially scrap metals, there by hampering the momentum that had been gathered in the growth of the industry.
7.2.6 Recycling value addition processes and products.
The researcher wanted to establish the recycling value addition processes that are carried out in Namibia. It turned out that only plastics were undergoing the full cycle of recycling from waste collection to product purchasing and back to waste collection. Other materials like paper, scrap metals, e-waste were partly processed before export. It was established that there were plans to establish scrap metal processing plant at Otavi and glass production plant at Tses. There was no development at the time of study to this effect. Even though Government and private sector were keen on having these industries, the handicap lied on generation of sufficient volumes for economic viability of these industries and the technologies. In general, these efforts should be looked at from a regional point of view and not at country level to be meaningful.
7.2.7 Benefits chains of recycling industry in Namibia
Like in other countries, recycling was benefiting local authorities on delivering part of their mandate, labour market, construction industry, transporters, manufacturing industries and the environment at large. Recycling reduced pollution in towns like Windhoek. The City of Windhhoek still maintains its cleanliness to a level which the local authorities commended partly due to recycling efforts. In addition, the benefits of the industry to the unskilled labour market was immense, with large companies employing in excess of 1500 employees, a benefit to a country with high unemployment rate. Secondary and tertiary benefits in various areas could not be established by the researcher, but like any functioning economic venture there were downstream benefits which were difficult to quantify.
7.2.8 Establishment of Operational network linkages in the industry.
The industry had both internal and external operational networks linkages. The linkages were associated with material flow, information flow, technological exchange, financial and transport services. The operational network linkages were found to be in existence among waste pickers, ward contractors, residents, material processors companies, manufacturers companies, wholesale distributors companies and retailers shops through material flow.
Transport being a critical factor for the movement mainly of materials within and outside Namibia was established as a critical component to the viability of the recycling industry. The industry works in association with transporters in the transport industry. It was suggested that truckers that bring in goods could transport recyclables to the next point than going back empty.
Financial viability was another very important factor identified for the success and survival of the industry. Financial constraints was as a limiting factor to companies operations. Big companies were found to be linked to external partners for financial, technological and material support and access to the Environmental Investment Fund which was set aside for assisting entrepreneurs in economic development. The acquisition of funds even from lending financial institutions such as banks was found not easy. Thus, recommendations were made that funding in the industry should be easy in order to avoid unnecessary delays in implementing plans.
Recycling is an industry among others such as fishing mining, agriculture and tourism in Namibia. As an emerging industry, the study came up with some conclusions as highlighted below.
7.3.1 Motives of Companies in solid waste recycling in Namibia
Recycling has always been in existence in Namibia driven by the informal waste pickers. These were the main actors. The turning point was from the mid-nineties industry industrialists got involved so as to make the industry more organized. Government, private companies and business world became actors in the industry. These actors were driven by different reasons. The motives depended on the nature of business of the actors. Two major factors contributed to their involvement in the emerging industry. Companies which were into recycling were driven by economic reasons while regulators were driven by the environmental motives. However, for private companies who were into this business it was a business venture like any other business.
7.3.2 Extent of involvement of companies in solid waste recycling in Namibia
As a business venture, companies found a niche in the industry and were involved in different activities. However, most recycling companies were involved in recovery, collection and preprocessing of recyclables. Total recycling was still limited to plastic recycling only in Namibia. Further processing and subsequent production of raw materials and production of new products was done outside the country for the rest of the recyclable materials.
7.4 Regulatory Framework
The responsibility of Government is to create an enabling environment and regulates businesses for several reasons e.g. public safety and welfare and many regulations are in place such as licensing, permitting and inspections.
7.4.1 Policies guiding waste recovery and recycling
At national level the policy thrust was on waste minimization whilst at local level it is on waste reduction on dumpsites. Therefore the policies available were targeted on reducing waste but not on production of raw materials through recycling. As Namibia promotes industrialization, raw material value addition policies should be promoted and so is raw material from waste.
7.4.2 Legislation guiding waste recovery and recycling
At national level, Namibia did not have any direct legislation governing recycling. However at local level, by-laws in place govern the activities of waste management in only one area where they exist, Windhoek. Therefore, there was no law governing recycling in the country. .As recycling efforts continue an overarching law is required
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.