One of Visionscape Group’s core actions in 2019 is to amplify its efforts in addressing plastic waste in Europe and in emerging African markets, with an eye towards expanding the reach of its waste management solutions in Asia, the Middle East, and across the globe.
In 2019, Visionscape plans to increase and strengthen partnerships with governments and businesses, and support them in implementing policies on plastic waste management, allowing them to reach their immediate and long-term sustainability goals.
UK Plastics Pact & tax on single use plastics
As one of the biggest movers and proponents of plastic recycling and reuse, the United Kingdom has initiated several programmes to curb plastic use and pollution.
Launched in April 2018, the UK Plastics Pact is a collaborative initiative among businesses, UK governments and NGOs to achieve a circular plastics economy.
Signed by more than 40 companies – including big names such as Coca-Cola, Marks and Spencer, Nestle, P&G, Unilever and Pizza Hut – the UK Plastics Pact aims to hit the following targets by 2025:
- Eliminate single-use packaging through redesign, innovation or reuse
- Make 100% of plastics packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable
- Recycle or compost 70% of plastics packaging
- Include 30% average recycled content in all plastics packaging
In October, the UK government revealed plans to impose a world-leading tax on single-use plastics that do not contain at least 30% recycled content by April 2022.
Every year, 2.26 million tonnes of plastic are used in the UK, most of which are made from new plastic, since recycled plastic is often costlier. Under the proposed tax scheme, businesses that produce or import plastic packaging that does not have 30% recycled content will pay tax.
UK also intends to ban straws, stirrers and cotton buds made of plastic.
The European Union’s joint forces against plastic pollution
The European Commission released a study in January outlining “the first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics” as part of EU’s commitment to shift into a circular economy.
As of October, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Parliament have released a draft report, announcing plans to mandate EU member states to ensure only beverage bottles made with a minimum of 35% recycled content will enter their markets by 2030.
The report also unveiled EU’s plans to prohibit single-use plastics from entering their market by 2021. These include plates, cutlery, straws, stirrers, cotton buds and balloon sticks, which account for over 70% of marine litter.
The EU is also aiming to recycle more than 50% of waste generated in Europe by 2030.
Africa’s intertwined economic growth & waste generation
African economies are steadily picking up in recent years. The World Bank estimates economic growth in Africa to increase to 3.2 percent this year, and up to 3.5 percent in 2019, with stabilising commodity prices and higher domestic demand as key development factors.
The African Development Bank, on the other hand, pegs the region’s real output growth at 4.1 percent in 2018 and 2019, after a 3.6 percent increase in 2017.
Although this is great news, Africa’s growing economy, expanding population, rising urbanisation and increasingly consumerist behaviour bring environmental challenges that need to be addressed for the region to have sustainable economies.
One of these challenges is the region’s waste management problem.
Turning Africa’s trash into treasure
At present, 19 of the 50 largest dumpsites in the world can be found in Africa, as shown by data from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Furthermore, the World Bank anticipates waste generation in Sub-Saharan Africa to triple from current levels by 2050, contributing about 35 percent of the world’s total generated waste.
But if Africa’s waste is treated as a valuable resource, it can generate USD 8 billion annual revenues for the African economy through reuse, recycling and recovery.
In a joint study conducted by UNEP with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), they have valued Africa’s 125 million tonnes of waste resources at USD 8 billion.
However, only 4 percent of this total waste resource is being harnessed, which has an estimated value of USD 318.6 million per year.
“The value of the potentially recoverable resources that are not currently being collected and are essentially lost to the economy is estimated at USD 7.6 billion per year,” said UNEP and CSIR in the study.
Africa’s waste resources can also help alleviate the region’s widespread electricity problem.
In the same study, UNEP and CSIR projected the 125 million tonnes of waste from African urban cities in 2012 could have produced 62.5 terawatt hours of electricity and fulfilled 9.5 percent of the region’s electricity consumption in 2010.
Additionally, 57 percent of Africa’s waste includes organic waste streams such as food, agricultural and human waste, which can be used as feedstock for waste-to-energy projects that can help increase Africa’s local power supply.
Asia – The largest waste generating continent
As of 2016, there were 4.45 billion people living in Asia – 48.1 percent of which, or more than 2 billion people, were living in urban cities.
Like Africa, ballooning population, accelerated urbanisation, and continuous economic progress are some major contributors to Asia’s mounting waste problem.
Asian cities are expected to produce 1.8 billion tonnes of waste by 2025, according to a study facilitated by UN Environment, Asia Institute of Technology (AIT), and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).
The study, which referred to Asia as the largest waste generating continent, added that 17 of the world’s biggest dumpsites are in Asia.
Plastics are the most common waste, making up 60 to 80 percent of marine waste in Asia. Other waste products include e-waste, construction and demolition waste, food waste and healthcare waste.
In fact, more than 50 percent of plastic waste in the oceans comes from just these five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, as revealed by a 2017 report by the Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.
With Asia’s significant waste production comes a huge potential to generate economic opportunities through the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste. Enhanced productivity, job creation and lower risk to humans and ecosystems are key benefits of harnessing Asia’s waste resources.
Significant movements across the region include a USD 1 billion pledge from Indonesia to reduce their plastic leakage into the ocean by 70 percent by 2025, and Thailand’s 20-year strategy to eliminate marine litter and promote use of eco-friendly products over their plastic counterparts.
The search for alternative energy sources in the Middle East
Given the unpredictable market conditions for oil, the Middle East is looking to diversify its energy sources. Waste-to-energy presents a valuable opportunity to boost local power supply and reduce dependency on fossil fuels, while improving waste management and sustainability in the region.
By 2021, the United Arab Emirates plans to recycle 75 percent of its municipal solid waste. Currently, the UAE produces an average of 1.9 to 2.5 kg of waste per person per day. However, 77 percent of UAE’s total generated waste only goes to landfills.
The UAE is also investing in waste-to-energy facilities, notably a USD 2 billion, 185-megawatt (MW) WtE plant in Dubai, which was announced in January 2018.
Its neighbour, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has also announced plans to build its own recycling company under its Public Investment Fund (PIF), in line with its Vision 2030 plans to diversify its economy, protect its environment, and promote recycling in the country.
At present, Saudi Arabia is the biggest waste generator in the Middle East, producing approximately 15 million tonnes of garbage every year, while only recycling 10 percent of its recyclable waste.
With waste management becoming a growing concern in the region, as it tries to keep up with increasing consumer spending and rising waste generation, more waste recycling and waste-to-energy projects are expected to be developed in Middle Eastern countries.
The pivotal role of Visionscape Group and subsidiaries
Visionscape Group is an environmental utility conglomerate providing innovative and multifaceted waste management and resource recovery solutions for diverse industries across the globe.
Our Group have a far-reaching global presence, with strategic offices in the UK, Africa and the Middle East.
Our subsidiaries operate in specialised fields of waste management and resource recovery, allowing us to implement a closed loop system in our operations – the same sustainability solution and opportunity we are offering to our clients all over the world.
With the combined expertise and capacities of our subsidiaries, we are able to offer a broad scope of solutions covering the entire waste management value chain.
Visionscape Sanitation Solutions (VSS) is our waste management subsidiary, providing complete turnkey solutions in solid waste management.
VSS’s service portfolio includes municipal waste collection, recyclable materials collection and consolidation, waste management infrastructure and landfill management. Through VSS, our Group delivers high-level design, build and maintenance of modern waste management facilities such as materials recovery facilities, landfill sites, transfer loading stations, vehicle maintenance depots and waste-to-energy facilities.
Focused on green energy, water and wastewater treatment, Visionscape Environmental Engineering (VEE) provides proven solutions engineered to suit individual client needs. VEE’s comprehensive solutions offering includes farm scale and industrial scale anaerobic digestion plants, landfill gas projects, and combined heat and power technologies.
VEE provides agricultural, industrial and municipal organisations with strategic energy solutions anchored on collaborative research and development, design consultancy and project management.
For advanced plastics recycling, our subsidiary Visionscape Environmental SA (VESA) specialises in LDPE, HDPE, and PP recycling and sustainable supply chain efficiency. VESA also produces premium, normal and tailored grade plastics, as well as food grade, premium natural and coloured HPDE recycled plastics.
Vision Gelpack (VGP) is our high-performance flexible packaging manufacturing subsidiary, producing polyethylene products, from waste sacks to food-grade films and liners for a wide range of industries, which include waste management, facilities management, healthcare, and food and beverage processing.
Our Group provides best-in-class virgin and recycled engineering thermoplastic solutions for consumer, industrial and steel wire coating applications through our Vision Petlon Polymers subsidiary. VPP also offers toll compounding solutions and automotive-specific nylon solutions.
Sellers Containers is Visionscape Group’s manufacturing and management subsidiary for skips, containers and bins. It was founded in 1975 and has since been the UK’s leading manufacturer of high-quality bins, skips and containers, offering fully customisable products that meet and exceed Container Handling Equipment Manufacturers Association (CHEM) standards.
Aside from our unrivalled product range, we offer innovative technologies and features that can be integrated into our product offerings, including cloud-based technology, Global Positioning System (GPS), and radio-frequency identification (RFID). Sellers Containers is BS EN ISO 9001:2008 accredited.
Conclusion – Visionscape Group’s global approach to sustainability
Visionscape Group is primely positioned to provide world-leading solutions for governments, businesses, and municipalities in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, with expansion geared towards Asia and around the world.
With the collective capacities and solutions of our subsidiaries, and the shared mission and vision across our Group, we expertly aid government and private clients to meet their goals for recycling, landfill diversion, sustainability and use of eco-friendly products.
We share our industry-leading solutions and expertise in building, designing and maintaining waste-to-energy infrastructure in developed and emerging markets, while providing reliable and excellent waste management solutions that maximise waste resources throughout its value chain.
From equipping municipalities with advanced waste management facilities, to establishing small- to large-scale green energy plants, Visionscape is the ideal partner for reaching sustainability goals while supporting local economic growth.