WASTE recycling could provide another growth avenue for SA’s struggling economy.

Many businesses and industries have had to reconsider, restructure and redesign their operations to be more sustainable, especially when it comes to waste generated through their end-products, said Small Business Development Institute CEO Xolani Qubeka, who is also a nonexecutive director of the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of SA (Redisa).

"With the public eye turned to the ongoing preservation of our planet and its resources, there is no denying that the global outlook on a sustainable and clean environmental has become the new norm for many industries," he said.

Recycling had the potential to generate new businesses, create new wealth and sustainable jobs.

"SA needs more out-of-the-box thinking to advance our economy. Entrepreneurs are the key custodians and major drivers (needed) to grow (the) economy. "A vibrant entrepreneurship culture, underpinned by innovation, drives the growth of the middle class and plays a critical role in growing gross domestic product."

Redisa was spearheading tyre waste management by turning old tyres into a commodity instead of dumping them in landfills, explained Qubeka.

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A study conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has shown that, of the estimated 19-million tonnes of municipal waste generated in SA in 2011, about 25% consisted of mainline recyclables such as glass, paper, tins and plastics.

In May, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said her department was planning to help scale up waste-recycling enterprises through a support programme.

Muna Lakhani, a founder of Zero Waste in Africa, said recycling could help tackle the unemployment crisis, but the government needed to set a minimum price for recyclable material.

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