U.S and South African Tech Universities New Vision Ecological Waste

Ecological Waste

It is not a waste of time to talk about waste.

As a matter of fact, it is wisdom if we talk about how we can get the most profit and other benefits from wastes that everyone produces everyday.

That is called entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The Department of Environmental Affairs, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), and the South African Technology Network (SATN) are envisioning the establishment of an industry that would effectively address problems on waste management and create more employment opportunities in the region.

This was inspired by the recent 5th Annual Waste Management Summit which was held in Umhlanga. More than 600 people attended the event, representing different sectors and organizations.

South Africa is becoming more cognizant of the importance of government partnership with the industrial sector and the academia in order to create an entrepreneurship ecosystem.

According to Professor Anshu Padayachee, SATN’s chief executive officer who was interviewed by University World News,

“As universities of technology, we constitute the best institutions to create new curricula and develop entrepreneurs. Industry is the biggest consumer of our product, which is qualified students, but there has been limited investment in return. We would like to see industry invest more in terms of expertise and money to upskill staff and support students in interesting projects.”

There is also another proposal: to come up with a master’s degree on waste management. This will be a great advantage since advanced technological skills would get to be developed and harnessed for the success of the eco-waste program.

Based on government’s estimation, the waste recycling and diversion industry could be worth US$1.6 billion per annum. 

According to Dr Anitha Ramsuran, TIA’s manager of strategic stakeholder relations and communications in a couple of provincial regions, South Africa’s problem with waste could soon open a door of opportunities for the country’s millions of unemployed citizens.

“There has been a paradigm shift towards the idea of waste as a creator of jobs,” she relateto University World News. “We intend to put out calls for new indigenous technologies aimed at pickers, so that waste collection can become a respectable and safe vocation.”

South Africa’s annual production of general waste amount to more than 55 million tons based on the 2012 National Waste Information Baseline Report. Only 10 up to 20% of these general waste were recycled. Moreover, South Africa is dependent on landfills for its waste management system.

“There are huge opportunities for job creation among our 27% unemployed people,” remarked Mark Gordon, DEA’s deputy director general for chemicals and waste management “A waste collector should be able to earn a formal qualification and become an artisan; he or she could be recognized as e-waste technician or dismantler.”

Gordon further mentioned about the waste recycling and management center in the Vaal University of Technology, which he hopes other universities would use as a model. More than the waste management aspect, the center promotes entrepreneurship and technological innovation among the university students.

Waste management is every country’s concern, every person’s concern.

According to the World Economic Forum, the top 5 producers of municipal solid waste (MSW) per person among the developed countries are: New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, and the United States of America.

But the populace of small island-nations are actually the world’s top producers of MSW per person. New Zealand’s average record per person is only 3.68 kg, but a resident of Trinidad and Tobago produces as much as 14.4 kg/day.

Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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