The new organics reality: Organics Recycling Association of SA launched!

The new organics reality: Organics Recycling Association of SA launched!

Orasa is now officially in existence. At an event held at Hotel Verde recently Orasa was formally launched to the organics waste industry, industry players and the public in general. With the first organics ban due to come into effect in 2022 it is just in time to build capacity in the organics industry.

Hotel Verde was chosen as the launch venue primarily because of its green credentials.  A clever design and use of sunlight, photovoltaic panels, and wind turbines are just some of the innovations. These are well thought out and cost money so are not mere greenwashing.

Under the stewardship of Dawie Meiring, the Systems and Sustainability Manager, Hotel Verde has put an organics program in place. The hotel tracks the food wastage and through consultation with the chefs has managed to reduce food wastage by an incredible 98%!

The main speaker was Salim Haider, Head of WWF’s Policy and Futures Unit. Titling his talk “The benefits of Improved Resource Management” Salim placed organics recycling in a global context and spoke holistically of the issues.

Organics Recycling Association of SA - Founding committee
From L to R: Hein Fourie, Cassandra Gamble, Melanie Ludwig, Reg Barichievy – Smart Waste, Berenice Westmore and Emile Fourie

Melanie Ludwig, the chairperson of Orasa, then set out its goals: education, legislation and implementation. Education will stress separation at source as a fundamental principle. Once organic waste is mixed up with other waste or recyclables it is virtually impossible to separate again. Imagine, if you will, mixing plate scrapings and coffee grinds with plastic, paper and general waste.

Education will also include providing information via the website and through regular seminars and articles in the media. The next seminar on bio-degradable plastics is scheduled for September.

Orasa will build capacity, providing a platform for industry members to meet and talk. It will also aim to foster entrepreneurs  in order to build capacity in the industry. Recycling is an industry which can create jobs very quickly.

Lastly, Orasa intends to lobby government, something which has already been doing. Membership is open to most parties with an interest in organic recycling. Manufacturers of equipment and packaging, service providers, transporters and processors of waste. Admission can be done through the website. At the moment there are branches in Cape Town and Johannesburg and more will follow.

Organic (food) waste is a world wide problem. In South Africa some estimates suggest we are wasting up to 40% of the total food supply. This in a country where an estimated 14 million people go to bed hungry every day. It is everyone’s problem.

Orasa can only deal with a portion of the organic waste. Food banks, distribution of food from supermarkets – we need The Good Samaritan bill to be signed into law – the farmers and producers all have a part to play. As a society we need to change the way we use food and waste less.

What is wrong with ugly looking vegetables, do they all have to look perfect? Those master chefs, the French, don’t think so and have a number of Inglorious Fruit and Vegetables campaigns.

The most important thing, however, is to divert organic waste from landfill. In the Western Cape this will start in 2022 when 50% has to be diverted. The other 50% has to be diverted by 2027(Recycle Reg April 2018). No doubt the rest of the country will catch up at some stage.

In order to achieve these goals we need to change the logistics of the major supermarkets and build the capacity of fly farmers, digesters and composters. At the moment, as an industry, we are unable to cope. This is what Orasa will address on behalf of the organics industry.

Despite our appalling waste South Africa manages to lead the world in some of our recycling statistics eg plastic. Can we hope for the same with Orasa? South Africans regularly show they are capable of anything. I believe with the people we have we have there is a possibility of being a world leader in organic waste management also.

Recycle Reg
Smart Waste