5.6 Education, advocacy and awareness

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The effectiveness of many waste measures, particularly those aimed at waste reduction, recycling and litter prevention, depends to a significant extent on public and consumer awareness and changes in behaviour. The development of a coherent communications and awareness strategy around waste issues, to be led by DEA, is therefore an important component of the NWMS.

Awareness of and responses to waste issues is very uneven across different South African communities, and there is a clear need for high-profile state-led public awareness campaigns to support initiatives in relation to littering, as well as to promote a general awareness of waste issues. Indalo Yethu, South Africa’s Environmental Campaign, was established by DEA as an outcome of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in order to promote public awareness of environmental issues. It includes an endorsement brand for environmentally sustainable programmes and products. The strengthening and promotion of this brand will play a central role in raising awareness of environmental issues amongst consumers. Indalo Yethu, in conjunction with DEA, will carefully plan the content of waste awareness campaigns and their alignment with possible waste delivery measures such as separation at source to maximise their impact and ensure the effective use of limited marketing budgets.

Money spent on effective awareness and education programmes is likely to lead to savings in terms of more effective collection and recycling of waste in the long run, and it is therefore important that such programmes are suitably funded and resourced.

There is also a lack of awareness of the importance of waste management amongst elected representatives and government officials, particularly at local government level. This has negative consequences for planning, personnel and budget allocations. Amongst other measures, there is a need for training of councillors in waste management issues.  DEA will work with SALGA and COGTA to integrate waste issues into the existing councillor training programmes, and to develop training programmes and training resources for councillors and local government officials.

DEA’s Cleaning and Greening Programme has expanded the previous “Cleanest town” competition, and has an important role to play in advocacy and awareness. To maximise the potential of this programme, opportunities for leveraging synergies with the DWA’s Blue Drop programme for evaluating performance of local water authorities and Indalo Yethu’s Eco-town programme will be pursued. Indalo Yethu’s Eco-town programme is an environmentally sustainable development framework that provides an integrated approach to environmental issues in urban planning. This will help to deepen the context and maximise the impact of the Cleaning and Greening Programme.

It is noted that the Blue Drop programme is tied to regulatory measures. Once specifications for Integrated Waste Management Plans by local municipalities have been drawn up, the Department intends to establish a similar framework for the Cleaning and Greening Programme.

The increased involvement of citizens in oversight of waste delivery services provides an important avenue for raising public awareness of waste management issues. The inclusion of mechanisms for citizen oversight of waste service delivery will become one of the criteria for evaluating integrated waste management plans produced by local government.
In relation to consumer awareness, DEA and the dti will collaborate through the interdepartmental committee that will be established for the purposes of coordination of the provisions of the Waste Act. The committee will review implementation of the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act that are in alignment with the principles and mechanisms of the Waste Act.

Schools have a particularly important role to play in advocacy and awareness around waste issues. Waste management is currently included as a cross-cutting issue at the higher levels of the school curriculum, along with broader principles of environmental protection and water conservation. The implementation of waste as a topic in the curriculum will be strengthened by being linked to practical projects such as recycling and litter control. DEA will assist the Department of Basic Education in the development and review of guidelines for these projects.

Existing recycling initiatives in schools need to be supported and extended, although the fund-raising potential of these initiatives needs be realistically framed. Local business and community stakeholders are encouraged to find practical ways of initiating and supporting creative waste management initiatives in schools.

At a broader industry level, industry associations and business bodies will have an important role to play in raising the awareness of their members with respect to the provisions of the Act that impact on them, and in promoting the use of the voluntary instruments provided by the Act.


Education, advocacy and awareness

5.6(1) and 5.6(2)
It is recommended that organisations such as Indalo Yethu work with the existing packaging industry associations to send a unified and common message to the public on increasing awareness for good waste management. Currently millions of Rands are spent annually by the industry association to increase recycling rates for packaging.