In keeping with the spirit of World Environment Week, encompassing World Environment Day on 05 June 2012, the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) supports all endeavours, both personal and commercial, to observe this year’s theme titled ‘Green Economy: does it include YOU?’

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines the Green Economy as one that results in ‘improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.’  

Sadly, many feel helpless in the face of the overwhelmingly challenges faced when managing our waste.  There is simply no doubt that the refuse we generate has an unimaginable impact on all areas of our lives.  Few of us stop to think about the transportation of waste, for example, or the collection thereof, and how that is managed; how do we safely transport certain hazardous wastes?  How do we minimise the use of non-renewable energy sources in the transport process?  How do we ensure the safety of those who work in this field? 

Stan Jewaskiewitz, President of the IWMSA says “There is no question that the role played by communities and their awareness of environmental matters can help to develop possible partnerships and even influence legislation.  We, as a nation, are in dire need in our quest to deal with an ever increasing population and the amount of waste generated as a result.  Yes, the ‘Green Economy’ includes ALL OF US and we must ensure that we are mindful in all aspects of lives. In exactly the same way that food, and other goods which travel a shorter distance from farm or factory to table are more economically sustainable and ultimately generate a much smaller carbon footprint, so too is this a consideration when transporting and collecting waste: for instance, there is presently some debate as to how transport distances influence the ecological benefits of recycling. 

On the plus side of the seemingly enormous challenges in this arena, there is room for a great deal of creative and entrepreneurial thinking, something South Africans do well.  Opportunity definitely beckons when it comes to working out practical, environmentally friendly and economically viable solutions to waste collection and transport issues.

Jewaskiewitz concludes, “The IWMSA keeps a close watch on developments in waste management around the globe with a view to keeping our members as informed as possible.  We encourage all South Africans to become more aware and more enquiring as to how the systems around us work.  Mindfulness goes a long way towards change for the better and it really only needs to be one simple step at a time.  This is the aim of the IWMSA: to encourage citizens at large to become more educated and aware of the need to reduce, reuse and recycle our waste at source.”

The IWMSA focuses on providing education and training for its members, as well as other interested parties, whether private individuals or government entities. 

The IWMSA is a non-profit organisation comprising a body of dedicated professionals in their respective fields, who give freely and voluntarily of their time and expertise in order to effectively educate, promote and further the science and practice of waste management.  For more information, visit: www.iwmsa.co.za