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Darshan Rangai - 3 June 2024 - 0 comments

“The planet is severely stressed, landfills are stressed and the world can no longer take a linear approach to resource production and consumption. As the world urgently pivots towards environmental sustainability, we as global citizens have to change our mind-sets and adopt circular practices, which involve reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing products for as long as possible,” says Patricia Schröder, CEO of producer responsibility organisation (PRO), Circular Energy.

Speaking ahead of the Circular Energy’s upcoming conference and AGM, themed “Enabling Circular Transition”, and to be held on 13 and 14 June respectively, Schröder says the event is poised to serve as a crucial platform aimed at promoting the adoption of circular practices in various South Africa sectors.

The event, which will take place in the Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng, will explore the current landscape, highlight innovative collaborations and discuss regulatory alignments by drawing on expert insights and promoting strategic networking and policy dialogue. 

Schröder says speakers have been invited from local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as BASF to share their success stories and provide conference attendees with actionable insights and strategies to help them navigate the complexities of adopting circular practices in their operations.

“The conference will also facilitate networking opportunities, allowing conference-goers to connect with industry leaders, innovators and peers who are shaping the future of sustainability in the country. They will be able to share their experiences, challenges and successes; as well as build meaningful relationships and collaborations,” she adds.

While many European countries have adopted circular economy practices, Schröder says South Africa is lagging behind in this respect. “Things are changing, but not fast enough. We need a mind-set shift in all spheres of society: individuals, companies, governments and countries. This was a major theme at the World Economic Forum held in Davos earlier this year. 

She says many South Africans can attest to the frustrating scenario of investing in a new electronic device, which then starts malfunctioning soon after the warranty expires. “Their frustration deepens when they take it to the manufacturer only to be told it cannot be fixed and that they should buy an updated version of the product. 

“This planned obsolescence is no longer tenable, and manufacturers are going to be compelled to adapt as regulations require a shift towards creating more durable and repairable items.

“In Europe, a Right-to-Repair Directive was approved on 23 April 23 2024. This legislation imposes new obligations on manufacturers across all industries with the aim of encouraging consumers to choose repair over replacement. This is something we want to encourage South Africa’s government to adopt too,” notes Schröder.

She says it has become urgent that waste – and specifically e-waste – is eliminated. “The planet has a limited supply of the critical raw materials that are used to create the products that have become indispensable to how we function as a society. That’s why recycling – in the form of urban mining – is so important. It allows us to recover these materials and reuse them in producing the products we can no longer live without.”

Interested in attending the conference? Register here: 


Darshan Rangai


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