The future of recycling is in repurposing

Hermann Erdmann, CEO of REDISA, explains why the future is in changing the current linear economy paradigm.

Our dominant linear ‘take-make-consume-dispose’ economy is unsustainable. Dwindling natural resources and growing demand are inescapable: it is only a matter of time – in some cases just decades – before certain resources will no longer be available as virgin commodities.

Circular economy thinking moves away from waste: it looks at preventing the waste rather than managing it and promotes a sustainable industry where product design is influenced in a manner that makes not only environmental sense but also business sense for manufacturers. In the circular economy, manufacturers are incentivised to change and develop better design processes. This has become a reality in South Africa through an approach that was lauded by the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2016 as a successful model.

In South Africa, through regulation, the tyre industry’s products – which severely damage the environment – do not become waste at the end of life. In line with promoting a circular economy, ultimately manufacturers will be incentivised to shift their products’ designs to cradle-to-cradle manufacturing techniques.

For the first time in any industry, 100% of tyre manufacturers and importers in South Africa are taking responsibility for their waste by passing the responsibility to an organisation like REDISA, which is ensuring that the environmental disaster that waste tyres represent is being economically and effectively addressed.