BIR at IFAT Africa: need for solid recycling infrastructures
Leading trade fair offers backdrop for BIR’s outreach regarding best recycling practices in sub-Saharan countries
The third IFAT Africa, held from 9-11 July 2019 reinforced its reputation as the leading trade fair for water, sewage, refuse and recycling in Southern Africa. The international trade show welcomed 172 exhibitors and 3,302 visitors from 19 countries at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesbourg.
In line with the tradition of the IFAT trade fairs held around the world and the partnership firmed-up between BIR and IFAT in March 2019, BIR was for the second time part of the comprehensive supporting programme aimed at sharing knowledge and best practices, as well raising awareness about the urgent environmental challenges in sub-Saharan Africa.
With the support of UNIDO Investment and Technology Promotion Office (ITPO) Germany, BIR provided a session entitled “Recycling in Africa – a continent of opportunities and challenges” on 11 July 2019 at 11:30-13:00. Participants listened to the opening address and introduction of BIR, the global recycling network by BIR Director General Arnaud Brunet, followed by BIR Immediate Past President Ranjit Baxi who addressed developing recycling infrastructures and how BIR can help Africa’s recycling efforts. Then, BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division Board Member Sidney Lazarus shared his views about the realities of metals recycling in South Africa and Michael Schmidt of UNIDO Investment and Technology Promotion Office gave a presentation on the importance of strong industrial partnerships. The presentations and speeches were followed by a lively panel discussion on “Environmental sustainability – Africa needs to be on board”, moderated by Arnaud Brunet.
Participants showed a great interest in discussing the future of recycling in Africa, for example how to manage the immense volumes of electronic and metals scrap. It was clear from the discussions that possibilities lie in circular economies, specifically the willingness to look at waste as not waste, but rather as a resource. End of life products that are today thrown away or burned should be more reused in whole or partly, ensuring that the materials have an endless life. Therefore, besides solutions in the fields of technologies and funding, the debate also focused on the topics of education, advanced training and recruiting specific to Africa’s recycling needs and solutions.