Operation Clean Sweep – limiting microplastics in the ocean

According to Douw Steyn, Sustainability Director at Plastics|SA, the primary goal of the Operation Clean Sweep campaign is to stop plastic pellets, flakes and powder used in the plastics industry, from reaching the ocean.

Yogurt“We, as the plastics industry, produce the pellets and flakes used to manufacture plastic bags, bottles and other plastic products. When these micro-plastics are spilled during the manufacturing process, they are swept into drains from where they enter the sewerage system and eventually end up in rivers and ultimately the ocean.

These pellets are smaller than a sunflower seed in length, but wider and are therefore not easy to pick up during regular beach clean-ups. As a result, they are ingested by turtles, birds and marine life,” Steyn explains.

Mark Liptrot, Sustainability Manager at the packaging company, Constantia Afripak, said the extended effect of plastics on the ocean is a growing problem as micro-plastics attract chemical pollutants that are ingested by marine life, which, in turn, is eaten by other marine animals.

“It is where we use it, how we use it, and what we do with the plastic product once we are done with it that is important. To address this problem and offer a workable solution, Plastics|SA launched “Operation Clean Sweep” – a worldwide drive aimed at reducing the amount of plastic pellets that end up in rivers and ultimately in the ocean”, Steyn said.

He added that the plastics industry as a whole had a role to play – from the producers and importers of raw materials pellets and flakes, to the converters and manufacturers of plastic products, as well as the recycling companies.

“Our goal is to achieve zero pellet, flake, and powder loss. Whilst it might seem to be an ambitious target, we believe it is possible through containment and the implementation of good housekeeping practices,” he said.

DSC_2908Catherine Constantinides, head of Miss Earth South Africa endorsed Operation Clean Sweep. “To help highlight the importance of clean oceans, Miss Earth SA ambassadors took part in 100 beach clean-ups across the country. But it’s not just cleaning up that’s important. Educating and creating awareness are equally necessary. If we don’t educate, we will be doing clean-ups for the next 20 years of World Ocean Day.

We are appealing to retailers and the public at large to realise that they too have a vital role to play in ensuring that plastic products and waste do not end up polluting the environment,” Constantinides implored.

What is the value of farm and anti-poaching security?

Rhino2From poached rhinos to killing for subsistence, and criminal farm attacks, the agricultural, wildlife ranching and tourism industries face an onslaught of incursions.

In South Africa alone, three rhino are killed a day; game, poultry and livestock are targeted; and (in 2016) 446 humans were brutally assaulted in their homes, on their farms. This year, AfriForum reported that 30 farm attacks were recorded in the first two weeks of February, resulting in 11 heartless murders.

As is the case in any security breach, perpetrators will always look for a soft target; criminals always follow the path of least resistance. Safeguarding against poaching and attacks is no easy feat, and expert assistance should be employed to tighten defences and prevent a breach.

DSC_0971“Our management team enjoys a deep, personal appreciation for the rich history of South Africa’s wildlife and agricultural environment,” says Jacqueline Condon, the Managing Director at Apache Security Services. “Poaching and violent farm attacks continue to plague our country, and this must be stopped.”

The starting point of any good farm protection strategy is a security audit. It is fundamental to identify the holes in the defences, and implement targeted strategies to ensure that no shortfalls remain. These shortfalls will be exploited – and the results could be catastrophic.

Condon believes that the answer lies in deploying specialist Farm Security Units, comprising expert ‘foot soldiers’ and anti-poaching members, to assist in combatting and preventing these problems. “There are six distinct ways for farmers, lodges and game farms to protect their investments, their livelihoods and their lives,” confirms Condon.

“Start with operatives that live onsite in camps or other accommodation. Surveillance should be conducted by air (with drones and thermal imaging), by land (with operatives patrolling on foot, in vehicles and on four-wheelers), and with frequent perimeter inspections. Placing of traps and bush cameras aids in tracking, while 24-hour contact and armed response are essential. Security providers should consult with local law enforcement, join community forums and provide farmer and family escorts when necessary. Vetting of farm staff is a crucial step in thwarting the spread of inside information.”

DSC_0954Due to the size of agricultural and wildlife properties, managing risks and maintaining security can pose a challenge. While awareness of one’s surroundings, personal protection skills and caution in suspicious circumstances contribute to safety, there is no substitute for professional, armed and immediate assistance when the need arises.

“Farm security cannot be taken lightly and requires dedicated commitment from the practitioners putting their lives on the line to provide a service,” concludes Condon. “It is essential that these teams are equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, and are armed with firearms and ammunition specifically required to defend this unique environment.”

How an important South African wetland has been restored

As of 30 May 2017, 1.290million cubic metres of dredged soil have been moved from the Lake St Lucia estuarine system. This translates into almost 95% of the anticipated 1.363million cubic metres of dredge spoil which will be removed by early July, marking an important milestone in the process of ecological restoration for the Lake St Lucia estuarine system,” says Andrew Zaloumis, CEO of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

In January 2016, iSimangaliso embarked on a R63 million project towards the restoration of the Lake St Lucia Estuary. This followed an extensive consultation process with inter alia UCOSP and scientific research concerning the health of the system and its ecological and economic importance.

The rehabilitation project comprises the removal of dredge spoil that was artificially placed in the uMfolozi River course by conservation authorities at the time, to protect the Estuary from what were believed to be damaging effects of the canalisation of the uMfolozi River and the draining of the uMfolozi floodplain for some 9100ha of sugarcane farming.

Some of the sugarcane farms lie in the tidal floodplain and are prone to backflooding – a natural estuarine process. The uMfolozi River is the powerhouse that drives the proper functioning of the estuary mouth, so the improper functioning resulted in species mortality and the collapse of prawn fisheries in the region.

Notwithstanding the extensive consultation with UCOSP (the body responsible for flood protection on the floodplain) and UCOSPs endorsement of the management plan for the Estuary, UCOSP and two farmers took iSimangaliso to the high court to compel it to breach the mouth. The application was dismissed on 21 April 2017 when Judge Mohini Moodley handed down her full judgment in the matter.

“The judgement secures this lifeline for Lake St Lucia for the greater good,” says Zaloumis. “It is still early days, but the first gains are already visible. Nature’s healing has begun.

“The area being removed was shown to be the most important portion of the dredge spoil ‘island’ to remove. Removing the eastern area of the dredge spoil will help to reinstate the hydrodynamic processes and allow a much more natural mouth dynamic to Lake St Lucia,” explains estuarine ecologist, Nicolette Forbes.

Good summer rainfall and unseasonal rains during May have also contributed to making the system more robust and is in stark contrast to the dismal state of the Lake in February last year when only 10% of the Lake’s surface area was covered by water.

From October 2016 to March 2017 approximately 870 mm of rainfall was recorded in the catchment area, including the Lake St Lucia Estuary.

Estuary high levels on May 17

Estuary high levels on May 17

The system received an additional significant supplement in excess of over 300mm between 11-16 May 2017. This contributed to a substantial increase in the water flowing in the uMfolozi River and most of the increase in water level in the Lake can be attributed to the inputs from this catchment.

The water depth is now approximately 1 – 1.2m throughout the system and salinity remains low – with freshwater conditions throughout the Estuary. Water also flowed into the lake from other catchments, such as the uMphathe and uMkhuze Rivers.

The monitoring data collected indicates the movement of water from the uMfolozi River into the Narrows and northwards to the upper lake portions. This emphasises the importance of the uMfolozi River as a water source for this estuary.

“Lake St Lucia estuary’s life blood has been returned and this puts the system in a good position as we move into the naturally dry winter months where we can expect water levels to reduce through evaporation,” concludes Zaloumis.

Outstanding plastic waste collection initiative

DSC_0662More than 39 000 kgs of waste was collected by the Plastics|SA Clean-Up Crews, cleaning up routes used by athletes during the recent Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, which is widely known as “The World’s Most Beautiful Race”. According to Douw Steyn, Director: Sustainability at Plastics|SA, the majority of the waste collected during this annual event is made up of plastic, which has a high recycling value.

“We work hard to ensure that packaging is kept out of the environment and off the streets by employing clean-up crews from Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Athlone. Many of the members of the clean-up crews have been working with us for the past 10 years on race days, and are trained to quickly and effectively sweep the areas”, says Steyn.

Steyn also remarked that it was clear from this year’s events that athletes and spectators had a heightened awareness of the importance of not littering and keeping their environmental footprint as small as possible.

“The organizers of this year’s Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in particular did an excellent job with their #GOGREEN campaign, which was launched prior to the race. This anti-littering movement, coupled with our waste management plan, offered a sustainable way to collect and process the non-organic waste which was generated during race week.

DSC_0035All event waste will be recycled and transformed into approximately 500 Green Desks for needy schools in and around Cape Town, thanks to a partnership between the Wildlands Conservation Trust and POLYCO (Polyolefin Recycling Company)”, says Steyn.

The Plastics|SA Clean-Up crews were also responsible for collecting the waste generated by spectators attending the SA Navy Festival and the Cape Town Cycle Tour in March.

“Although the cycle race was cancelled due to extremely windy conditions, our teams were hard at work prior to the race day and after break-up by the maintenance crews to ensure that the roads were left litter-free. We look back at two very busy, but very rewarding months.

“Under the guidance of Plastics|SA’s Sustainability Manager, John Kieser, our crews did a phenomenal job of collecting the waste and raising awareness about the importance of recycling. We applaud the organizers of all three events for their pro-active approach to waste management and event greening,” concludes Steyn.

China leads the push for Globalization 2.0

From MindBullets: News from the future…
Dateline: 4 July 2035

It’s taken two decades, but the demise of the United States as top nation was predicted way back in 2015. Now China is firmly #1 in economic terms, and the west looks decidedly lower-middle class.

The global power shift to the east has been driven partly by demographics, but also by China’s determination to expand its sphere of economic influence, and to co-opt key nations en route. Central to this ambition was the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, which links up dozens of nodes from Guangzhou to Rotterdam in a vast new logistics network.

DSC_0886Since the vision for this new Silk Road was announced in 2016, it has been expanded to involve 68 countries and upgraded for the digital age.

Almost all the rail links, seaports and border points are also connected by ultra-fast digital networks, and feature automated tracking and forwarding for global supply chain integration, enhanced with artificial intelligence.

President Xi Jinping’s goal was to pull countries and multinationals into a new economic order dominated by China, and he has succeeded. But the physical and virtual links spanning Asia and Europe have left North America behind.

The United States has been desperately trying to revive the Trans Pacific Partnership, but with so much of China’s funding and development committed to One Belt, only Japan is interested. Although the era of ‘America First’ is long gone, the legacy effects remain a drag on US growth.

Now the heartland of commerce and innovation lies in the rich, abundant markets of east Asia, while the old leaders in the west struggle to emerge from their isolationist slump. China is the new king of the global hill.

In praise of private game reserves

Without detracting from the wonderful and critical role that our national parks play in conservation we would like to take an opportunity to focus on the positive achievements of the private sector in this regard.

DSC_0895Around the middle of the 20th century, wildlife had no economic value in South Africa. At best, wildlife was simply good sport and there are numerous accounts of the eradication of huge numbers of free-roaming wildlife throughout southern Africa.

Plains game species were seen to compete with livestock, so animals like Bontebok, Blesbok, Roan and Sable antelope and Tsessebe were also slaughtered to the point that their populations numbered less than 500 individuals. Wildlife was considered to be vermin.

In the late 1800s, the government established some statutory game reserves on land that was not suitable for agriculture and some 30 years later, we had some national parks, many of which still exist today and form the bulk of the country’s primary tourism destinations. Even these reserves only had limited wildlife populations and through exemplary conservation management strategies based on trial-and-error methods, these populations were protected and increased.

DSC_0954Wildlife also started gaining economic value for private reserve owners and commercial wildlife ranching was recognised and supported by the state. These landowners focus on increasing natural habitats for wildlife and often convert agricultural land into suitable game areas. Their practises are sustainable and have a massive green footprint in terms of habitat, soil restoration and biodiversity support.

The role of the private game ranching sector:

Social Aspects

• Wildlife ranches generally employ more than three times the staff of livestock farms
• Over 140 000 people have jobs (about 65 000 of which are permanent positions) in the private wildlife industry
• There are about 10 000 private game reserves in SA
Conservation
• There are over 20 million hectares of land in the conservation management industry – substantially more conservation land than all our national parks combined
• Private wildlife ranches generally focus on a select few of the game species on their land for commercial use but they provide habitat for countless species of mammals, birds, fish, insects and plants that are not used commercially at all. With habitat destruction being one of the primary threats to wildlife biodiversity, these private reserves play as critical a role in conservation as any national park, often providing vitally important corridors for wildlife between designated protected areas in areas that are becoming increasingly transformed by human activity.
DSC_1014• According to statistics from Wildlife Ranching SA, on average, a single wildlife ranch of about 2700ha that focuses on eco-tourism and biodiversity support is home to 45 mammal species, 266 bird species, 43 reptile species, 29 grass species and over 100 other tree and plant species.
• Several species (Bontebok, Blesbok, Roan and Sable antelope, Tsessebe, Black wildebeest, Leopard tortoise) have been rescued from the brink of extinction thanks to the creation of these reserves and now have healthy and growing populations in the country. There were only a few hundred disease-free buffalo in the country in the late 1900s and buffalo were also facing threats of eradication due to diseases they are susceptible to. Thanks to the collaboration of national and private reserves and various breeding projects, there are now more than 36 000 disease-free buffalo in the country – yet another success story for conservation in SA.

Economic Aspects:

DSC_1033• At present, the wildlife ranching industry, practicing both consumptive and non-consumptive uses of wildlife, contributes about R20 billion to SA’s balance sheet
• Approximately 20 000 tons of game meat is produced annually from this sector (excluding meat from biltong hunts), contributing to food security
• About 65 000 people are permanently employed by this sector with many more temporary jobs being provided throughout seasons or events eg. translocations/game capture operations, breeding projects, etc. These temporary positions push the total employment figure up to over 140 000 people that are supported by this industry, with a large proportion of employees made up of local community members.

Why plant a tree for Earth Day?

0306d8_7cae110459214248ad862aa515c3f338Saturday 22 April is International Earth Day. With this year’s theme being “Environmental & Climate Literacy”, Greenpop encourages businesses and individuals to take action and help greening schools and communities. Bring your business on a planting day or sponsor a tree to green under-greened areas. Together we can make a TREEmendous difference!

Plant a tree
International Earth Day is celebrated to remind each of us that the Earth and its ecosystems provide us with life and sustenance. So what better way to say thank you to the Earth than plant a tree at one of Greenpop’s planting days? Bring your business or team of 10+ and plant trees together with children to uplift their school and learn all about taking care of trees. Not only will you be transforming an under-green community, but you’ll have a great team-building experience as well. Find out more: plant a tree…

Sponsor a tree
You can also sponsor a tree or donate monthly to plant trees, grow food and educate for green action across Southern Africa. The programme empowers local communities to improve their environmental and social landscapes by planting trees and learn about the environment. Sponsor a tree here…

About Greenpop
Greenpop is on a mission to (re)connect people with our planet. They plant trees and have fun doing it! Greenpop plants trees in urban greening and reforestation projects and hosts green events, educational workshops, and festivals of action to inspire people to get active (not anxious) about the future of our planet.

Join the Treevolution this Earth Day!

Where have all the forests gone?

Climate change is making the world greener – courtesy of MindBullets: News from the Future

Dateline: 11 August 2028

dsc_0332Climate change is a reality that we’ve all come to accept, even though the debate surrounding the root cause of climate change rages on. Whether it’s warming caused by carbon emissions, natural release of methane gasses, dimming caused by polluting aerosols, or just the cosmic cycle of the solar system, the fact is the climate has changed.

The change has been quite dramatic in some regions, while barely noticeable in others; but the climate continues to change, despite the best efforts of activists and policy makers. We seem to be powerless in the face of nature’s eternal evolution.

It’s difficult for most people to adjust to radical change; and often, once they have adjusted, it’s time to change again! Coral reefs have suffered severely from warmer oceans; some species in Arctic regions have wilted, others have thrived.

DSC_0295But one fact is undeniable. The world is greener. Carbon dioxide is a natural fertilizer and life-sustaining component for green plants. Trees, shrubs, flowers and leafy vegetables all thrive in an atmosphere rich in CO2. Satellite images clearly show how the world has gone greener, and treelines are advancing.

Even commercial crops like cotton, corn and soy have doubled their output, requiring less land for bigger harvests. The consequences are not all good; some regions have surpluses and low prices, while other farmers have even more incentive to clear forests for crops.

At this rate, some of the great deserts might be under threat of irreversible change. Imagine if the Sahara or the Gobi started to shrink! The ability to sustain more habitation will attract more people, and soon the great wastelands of sand might be teeming with undesirable immigrants. It’s a crisis in the making.

Welcome to the jungle!

Wall Go Up, Trade Comes Down

Global downturn follows isolationist resurgence

Dateline: 7 March 2021

Brexit, Trump and now Le Pen. As the old, established economies turn inward and nationalist, global trade and co-operation suffer. It’s been left to the new, New World, what used to be called Emerging Markets, to carry the torch of free trade.
As Tim Harford notes: “The first and most fundamental insight is that all human civilisation is built on some sort of trade.”

ALL human civilisation. Productivity and progress rely on exploiting comparative advantages with trade, to everyone’s gain.
But the old guard, turned new protectionist, seem to be blinded by populist memes, and deaf to economic commonsense. Short termism rules, if you’re chasing votes, not growth.

Sugar cane harvestThe new champions, China, India, Africa and Latin America are carving themselves a future based on encouraging trade and cooperative competition, even as the loss of rich-world markets shrinks the global pie. In the long run, open economies will thrive and flourish, despite the best vindictive efforts of the old masters!

It’s ironic to think that the lessons learned by China, that closing itself off from the world only leads to deprivation and decline, are lost on the ‘enlightened’ nations of America and Europe. Luckily there are hungry competitors in the Gulf states and Australasia to take up the slack. Opportunities abound for the bold!

A decade from now, the newly disenfranchised, formerly leading countries will look back and say: “How did we end up on the wrong side of history?” But in the surging tide of populism and nationalistic fervor, all that matters is the majority vote.

Those who know that walls don’t work, that ‘security’ creates barriers and isolation, will be the victors. But we could have all profited from a more open world. There lies the tragedy!

Published 23 February 2017 by MindBullets: News from the Future

How farming flies can provide food and help the environment

FLY-FARMER AgriProtein today entered the prestigious 2017 Global Cleantech 100 list in recognition of its contribution to tackling the waste crisis and helping repair the environment.

The first commercial-scale insect meal producer in the world, AgriProtein builds and operates its own fly-farms and licenses its technology around the world.

DSC_1236A leader in the fast-growing waste-to-nutrient recycling industry, AgriProtein produces insect meal for animal feed by rearing black soldier fly larvae on organic waste that would otherwise go to landfill. The larvae are harvested to make high-protein feed products and ingredients as an alternative to fishmeal.

Said David Drew, European Director at AgriProtein: “Bringing sustainable protein feeds to the aquaculture and agriculture market is just the forward-facing part of our business. On the supply side we are able to divert thousands of tonnes of organic waste away from landfill as part of our insect-based nutrient up-cycling process. We make 100% natural, sustainable protein created from unsustainable waste piles.”

The world’s biggest fly-farmer, AgriProtein won an AUD 450,000 award in December for its industrially-scalable solution to the depletion of fish stocks in the Indian Ocean in the Australian government-backed Blue Economy Challenge 2016. In November it raised USD 17.5 million for further expansion, valuing it at USD 117 million and making it the most valuable fly-farming business in the world.

Now in its eighth year and run by CTG, (Cleantech Group) Global Cleantech 100 represents the most innovative and promising ideas impacting the future of a wide-range of industries. Featuring companies that are best positioned to solve tomorrow’s clean technology challenges, it is a comprehensive list of private companies with the highest potential to make significant market impact within a five to 10 year timeframe.

Said Richard Youngman, CEO of CTG: “We see more signals this year of the ongoing mainstreaming of clean technologies, sustainability, and resource efficiency on its journey towards the point where this is just the normal way business is done.”

To qualify for the Global Cleantech 100, companies must be independent, for-profit, cleantech companies that are not listed on any major stock exchange. This year, a record number of nominations were received: 9,900 distinct companies from 77 countries. These companies were weighted and scored to create a short list of 325 companies. Short-listed nominees were reviewed by CTG’s Expert Panel, resulting in a finalized list of 100 companies from 17 countries.