220.127.116.11 Value addition processes for other materials
Since manufacturing is low in Namibia, market forces for selling produced good were also cited as another factor hindering the full development of the industry. Thus, most of the recyclers exported their products for further processing in South Africa and further afield. These recyclables paper, glass, metals and e-waste collected and pre-processed in Namibia will be presented here.
Companies A and N were the only two companies that were involved in paper recycling. Different types of paper such as newspapers, white printing paper, writing papers, paper packaging, and envelopes with or without plastic windows, telephone books, magazines and cardboard/carton boxes were handled as shown in Figure 4.7 of chapter 4. Company A handled a lot of cardboard paper since most of the country’s consumer goods are imported packaged in various packages including cardboard. Wholesalers disposed a lot of these paper products. The rest of paper products were collected from various sources such as households, retail shops, industries and institutions. Upon collection of the different papers, sorting of the papers was the first process that was done by the two companies. At Company A, apart from receiving single stream waste, they also received comingled waste which was sorted into different categories of paper. To reduce dust emission and odor, the waste was constantly sprayed as the labor-force hand sorted the materials. The papers were sorted by type, colour, texture i.e. hard or soft and white or khaki. After sorting, cardboard/carton boxes were simply compacted and baled before transportation to South Africa for further processing. On average 700 tons of cardboard boxes were being exported to South Africa every month by company A. Newspapers were also treated the same baling in 5 ton batches. Paper with contaminants such as glue or paper clips was condemned and thrown at dumpsites as it was costly to clean them. However, soft white paper especially from institutions such as banks, government offices was shredded first for confidential or sensitive documents before baling them. The rest of the papers were simply sorted and then baled. The final step was transportation to South Africa since Namibia does not have facilities for further processing. The study found that it was quite difficult to set up a paper recycling plant in the country due the fact that most paper packaging is done in South Africa for the products that Namibia imports. Thus, the companies found it cost effective to export the recyclables. However, the researcher feels that some of the paper could be recycled locally to produce smaller products with a ready market.
Namibian recyclers are also involved in glass recycling. Pre -processing of glass is the only value addition process done as no facilities are available in the country for total recycling. A glass recycling company which was meant to carry total recycling failed to be built in Tses a small settlement town in the southern part of the country. According to information gathered during interviews this failed due to lack of support from relevant authorities despite endless efforts by the entrepreneur. At companies A, F and N involved in glass recycling, upon collection, glass was sorted according to color: brown, green and clear, as well as type of use: juice, soft drinks, beer, milk jars, beverage drinks. Beer bottles constituted the most. After sorting, bottles were either sent to local bottling companies and wholesales that paid the providers of these products for reuse or crushed. Crushing of the glass was done manually, but due to the hazardous nature of the job, workers involved had to put on goggles. After crushing, the glass was baled into 5 ton bags ready for transportation to South Africa for further processing and subsequent production of new glass containers. At company F, lack of transport resulted in hording of excess stock leaving no spare capacity to accommodate any new supplies. The study also found out that some of the glass bottles collected especially outside major centers do not reach their destination due to transport problems and loading equipment. Consequently, some of the bottles are simply left lying at assembly points in the rural areas and eventually destroyed. The issue of buy- back centers is therefore suggested as a solution to this problem.
Namibia is also involved in cans recycling. Pre -processing of cans is done as no facilities are available in the country for total recycling. Both steel and aluminum cans were collected and preprocessed by different companies: A, N, F, E and G. The major value addition process was collection, crushing of the cans to reduce bulkiness, baling and finally transportation to South Africa for further processing.
Companies also collected a variety of scrap metal: ferrous and non-ferrous from industries, from construction companies, farms, ship wreaks and mines as well as individuals. Company E had contracts with mines, NAMDEB, Nampower, shipping companies and Trans-Namib for scrap collection and disposal. Collected scrap metals could be seen in heaps in the scrap yards ready for dismantling and sorting, which were done mechanically, but some materials were also dismantled manually. The final step was crushing or compaction and baling of the pieces before transportation and shipping to Asia via Walvis Bay port. Loading machines were used to load the materials onto the containers. Due to lack of equipment, small companies like Company J hired loading equipment from company E adding more costs to their operations. The company paid about $400 per hour for hiring the equipment. Although this was a reasonable rate for the construction industry, it was considered very high due to low returns from the recycling industry.
Complete e-waste recycling value chain involves primary processing: collection, transport, sorting, depollution and dismantling, shredding and separation; and secondary processing as given by Borh (2007). The study established that in Namibia, primary processing is the only processes done before to South Africa were secondary processes were carried out. A variety of electronic waste materials such as desktop computers, mouse, computer screens, mp3 players, irons, microphones, laptops, calculators, printers, copy machines, keyboards and ATM machines were collected from various sources within Windhoek only. These materials were either collected by the company mobile trucks or dropped off at the industry by the consumers. On the day of visit, the researcher witnessed, an assortment of materials that had already been sorted, dismantled and some shredded. A lot still had to be processed and baled. Dismantling was done to retrieve essential elements as well as to remove hazardous metals before sending to further markets. This process was in line with Boks’s (2002) literature cited in Bohr (2007) which reported manual dismantling. South Africa was the final destination of all the retrieved valuable materials for further processing. The products were baled in 5 ton bags.
Collection, sorting, cleaning, crushing, chipping, manufacturing, packaging and selling were the value addition processes recyclable raw materials underwent within the industry for most products except plastics. Due to small manufacturing industrial base in Namibia, companies felt it was not viable to establish recycling plants for most of the recyclable materials. This was so because of high capital costs involved in setting up new industries and the low volumes of recyclable materials which could not sustain the industry. Since manufacturing is low, market forces for selling produced good were also cited as another factor hindering the full development of the industry. Thus, most of the recyclers exported their products for further processing to South Africa and further afield. Thus value addition chain process described the full range of activities for plastics only that were required to bring a product or service from conception, through the different phases of production, delivery to final consumers as highlighted by Kaplinsky &Morris, 2001).
5.4.3 Benefit chains associated with recycling in Namibia
The researcher wanted to establish the benefits of the recycling in Namibia, hence the research question was: “What are the benefits associated with the processing of recyclable raw material wastes in Namibia.” Discussions on this issue with participants revealed that they were knowledgeable about various benefits of the industry.
Analysis of the data reveals that the economics of recycling brought about environmental benefits in the context of the recycling model prevalent in Namibia, where the whole system is financed by the proceeds from recycled raw materials and product. Unlike other models where recycling is financed by the waste producers, this model is self-perpetuating as long as it makes economic sense to recover, process and transport the material to manufactures. However, if the whole country is to benefit environmentally and socially the two dimensions should work hand in hand as presented in Chapter 6.
The section of benefits is not much different from the section on motives. The motives section was focused on benefits to the proponent of the recycling business, whereas benefit chains section is focused on benefits derived throughout the country. There is an overlap in some of the aspects presented here and those presented in section 5.2.3. Three main categories of benefits chains similar to motives were identified: economic, environmental and social as presented in Table 4.24 in chapter 4, and will be discussed here.
18.104.22.168 Economic Benefits
Recycling was associated with economic benefits such as employment creation, creation and promotion of new businesses, production of cheap raw materials and goods, potential source of revenue among others as shown in Table 4.24 of Chapter 4. The major benefit of recycling economy identified by 93% of the participants was employment creation both directly and indirectly.
The study established that recycling industry in Namibia brought relief to some people who were unemployed particularly the semi-skilled both men and women. Unemployment was considered a contributory factor to rising crime in the country as people struggled to survive particularly in urban areas. Even though companies highlighted that the numbers employed directly in the industry are not very big as compared to that of other countries, it was considered a great benefit. Employment figures for each of the companies visited are as shown in the table 4.1, Chapter 4. The finding on employment supports researches done earlier. According to Jacobsen et al., 2014 & Hasheela, 2009, unemployment is a significant problem in Namibia just like in other parts of the developing world. Studying on the role played by informal waste pickers in recycling in South Africa (Mamphitta, 2011) observed that the industry is a source of employment not only to the skilled but also the semi-skilled. In Mozambique, Carbon Africa Ltd (2014) also revealed that beside the environmental and public health benefits recycling contributes to informal employment opportunities for numerous people. This situation is not different from findings in a study on e-waste recycling, in Nigeria, Manhart (2011)’s study also found that people were employed in recycling industry especially from rural areas because recycling does not always require specific skills. The study found out that the recycling sector has about 2000 casual workers.
From an economic point of view, recycling has been necessitated by high demand and scarcity of raw materials globally. Production of secondary raw materials through plastic recycling going on in the country is very important because these are relatively cheap. For example, virgin raw material pellets, an important raw material in plastic production, costs $20/kg compared to secondary raw material pellets cost of $3/kg, as highlighted earlier. Even though some companies still import some of the raw materials from South Africa and Saudi Arabia, production of secondary raw materials here through recycling in the country is a great benefit. Recycling was considered a saving in raw materials use as compared to the use of virgin materials. Researches done elsewhere also support this finding. For example, Koehn (2011) in an article, Urban Mining Recycling as a Key to Ensure Raw Material Supply pointed out that scrap recycling is an important resource of secondary raw materials for the global steel industry. Around 34% of all global steel production is made out of recycled material with Germany already producing 47%. Besides, Koehn (2011) also revealed the energy saving done through recycling steel scrap than getting primary raw materials through mining. Use of recycled raw materials was also was found less harmful to the environment. Using 1t of steel scrap can save up to 1,400kg of iron and around 400g of coal, which are both essential for the production of steel.The recycling of every tonne of steel saves the mining of 1.2 tonnes of iron ore, 0.7 tonnes of coal and 60 kilograms of limestone, while recycling 1 tonne of plastics saves 3,000 litres of oil (Hickman, 2009).In China, various industries are relying also on the use of secondary raw materials from recycling for paper mills, plastic manufacturing and other manufacturing sectors as revealed in Trommer (2011)’s article Challenges in China’s Waste Management.
The economy of Namibia relies on agriculture, tourism and mining (gem diamonds, uranium, gold, silver, and base metals); therefore the recycling industry is an addition to the diversity of the economy. Coupled with this, is the production of cheap products which are easily accessible to the rest of the populace resulting in the availability of locally produced goods especially plastic products e.g. pipes, tanks and plastic containers. If one goes into Agra, Pupkerwitz, OBECO, ARK trading, these products are readily available. The industry also benefits indirectly other industries in the country. For example, transport and construction industries are some of the beneficiaries as the industry utilizes heavy vehicle and machinery to load and transport raw material. Most recycling companies do not have their own means of transport especially heavy trucks; hence they rely on hired transport. Thus through this industry, the heavy duty transport industry is growing.
Another benefit of the recycling industry which was highlighted was that the industry was a source of foreign currency earning. The sale of e-waste, scrap metals and products such as plastic packaging, pipes, chairs, cups etc. exported to international and regional markets such as Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Angola, and Zimbabwe were sources foreign currency earning. However, no company was willing to delve more into this subject as it was considered confidential.
There was consensus among most respondents that waste generation was increasing particularly in urban environments a situation quite similar to what is happening in urban areas worldwide, as a result of rapid population growth, urban spread and change in consumption styles as observed. Recycling was therefore considered as a waste reduction strategy. Companies A and O were very supportive of this venture as a way of minimizing waste disposal volumes at landfill sites which prolonged their life spans as well. Therefore recycling was a welcome initiative in the face of increased volumes of waste that were reportedly generated. It meant reduced volumes of waste destined for disposal effectively increasing landfill useful life, thus reducing municipal operational and investment costs, a finding supported by other researches (Ferronato, 2016; Simelane ; Mohee, 2012; Hickman,2009). With limited financial support, not all local authorities had the capacities to efficiently manage the waste. In the City of Windhoek, Solid Waste Management Department officials stated the City Council could still manage the situation; however there was a need to be proactive in order to avoid future challenges of waste.