Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina has welcomed the R25 million Japan-South Africa collaboration project that is aimed at combating plastic pollution.
The three-year project which was launched in Pretoria, aims to support the South African plastic industry to transition from conventional plastics to more environmentally sustainable alternative materials.
The project which was launched on Friday, is funded by the Japanese government and will be implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in partnership with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
"I am delighted to take part in this ground-breaking ceremony between Japan and South Africa in an attempt to reduce marine plastics pollution through renewable means. The Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) welcomes the support by the Japanese government and the partnership between UNIDO and CSIR, since biodegradable plastics locally are just being introduced.
"In order to maximise the environmental benefits from biodegradable plastics, further research and development will be necessary to optimise the production by increasing the efficiencies of various unit processes involved such as the separation processes and the integration process," said Gina.
She added that the dti and key stakeholders recognised and acknowledged the need to manage the issue of waste in a traditional manner by embracing the circular economy phenomenon premised on zero waste to landfill and separation at source.
"Locally we are seeing signs of improvement in the recycling space. More than 334 780 tons of material are recycled into raw material that are used in the manufacture of refuse bags, plastic bags, milk cartons and even waterproof sleeping bags for the homeless."
Worldwide, said the Deputy Minister, there is a push towards the development of plastics from biomaterials or renewable sources.
"The impact of this work will play an important role in increasing local technical skills and will eventually lead to local job creation in manufacturing," she said.
Gina also noted that the growing recognition of the need to transition towards a global green economy would result in improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
"This places the onus on government to make sound sustainable development decisions that will lead to prolonged economic transformation," she said.