South Africa has a tire problem – by some estimates 250,000 tons of waste tires that are a fire hazard, pollutant and breeding ground for disease-spreading vermin and mosquitoes. So along came the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa – REDISA. The nonprofit is working with the South African government, the tire and recycling industries and leveraging technology from Council Lead Partner Oracle to turn those waste tires into new products and thousands of sorely needed jobs. It's a great example of the circular economy at work and putting people to work. – Philip Bane
REDISA's founders see the circular economy as the answer to both environmental and economic challenges.
"Resources are dwindling, and some will soon be completely exhausted," REDISA CEO Hermann Erdmann said in an article posted on the Oracle site. “But this is also about creating jobs. A circular economy can prevent waste and spur economic activity, which is what we’ve shown in South Africa.”
Putting food on tables
As of April 2016, REDISA said it has created 3,160 jobs since its inception. And they are sorely needed. According to Trading Economics, the country hit an unemployment rate of 26.7% in March – the highest since 2005.
"Although a new initiative, REDISA is already putting money and food on the table of South African people at the very bottom of the economic food chain," CIO Ian Beaton said. "REDISA supports entrepreneurs, creates jobs and builds a better society."
The goal is to develop a sustainable South African tire recycling industry and REDISA has collaborated with the national government to make it happen. As the company website explains it, "We turn waste into worth."
Today tire manufacturers and importers in South Africa are required to handle waste tire recycling and environmentally friendly disposal themselves – or they can pay a waste tire management fee to REDISA. When they choose the latter REDISA handles the collection of waste tires and their transport to recycling plants.
Up and running quickly
"We had to be operational as fast as possible after government approval of the initiative, yet deploy a first-of-its-kind waste management plan across South Africa," CEO Erdmann explains. "Oracle provided the technology to achieve our ambitious plans."
And now South African entrepreneurs are transforming something previously viewed as waste into something people value – from functional, decorative furniture such as the piece pictured above, to handbags and clothes.
This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.
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