ORASA Education Seminar 21st November 2019

ORASA held its final education seminar for the 2019 on 21 November at GreenCape in Cape Town. We had a successful, well-attended and informative event, MC’d by Emile Fourie.

The event focussed on green building trends and the biogas sector and included an overview of the waste accreditation process being implemented by the City of Cape Town.

The event commenced with a brief overview of ORASA news and what we’ve been busy with from our chair, Melanie Ludwig. This was followed by our first speaker, Eric Buti from the City of Cape Town. He outlined each step in the waste accreditation process for waste service providers and the benefits of being accredited with the city, which include compliance with the City’s Integrated Waste Management by-law. He also reported that the process is designed to take a maximum of two months and is free of charge. More information can be obtained from the City of Cape Town website.

Eric Buti was followed by Georgina Smit from the Green Building Council of South Africa, who presented on net zero waste certification and trends in the green building sector. She provided insight into the local sector and highlighted that the average building costs for green buildings are coming down and that, increasingly, sustainable building design is contributing to increased returns on investments. She also outlined how the goal of net zero waste certification poses challenges unique to each case and provided case studies which demonstrated some of the particular obstacles businesses have tackled, together with solutions they used to lower their carbon emissions and waste outputs.

The second half of the seminar focussed on biogas in South Africa. First up was ORASA committee member Hein Fourie who spoke on the importance of biogas in the recycling of organics. While Hein did acknowledge that the biogas sector has faced significant challenges, he chose to focus on often overlooked successes, and the huge growth that can be gained from increased biogas production in SA. He called attention to the large reductions in emissions that diverting organic waste from landfill to produce biogas can bring – all with the added benefits of creating local energy, lowering our dependence on fossil fuels and boosting our economy. He also spoke about exciting new technological developments in the sector, with applications including organic fertiliser which feed micro-organisms in soil, helping to further sequester carbon.

Hein Fourie was followed by Jason Gifford, chairperson of the South African Biogas Industry Association (SABIA), who spoke about the current state of the biogas sector in South Africa. Jason presented a clear case for the significant renewable energy capacity that biogas production can achieve in South Africa. He underpinned the threefold benefits this would bring – economic, environmental and social. Primary among the social benefits were the large number of permanent jobs and construction jobs that can be created through biogas expansion. Among the current challenges faced by the sector, Jason mentioned the need for finance at appropriate scales to get more economically viable projects off the ground, with finance currently only available at the very top end of the scale. Once again, this underscores the need for solutions adapted to our African context.

Together, Hein and Jason provided an excellent overview of the enormous value biogas represents to the South African organic recycling and renewable energy sectors.

After questions, the seminar closed with a lunch and networking session.

We would like to thank GreenCape for their ongoing support and for providing the venue for this event. And thank you to our speakers for contributing their time and valuable insight. And finally, thank you to all the ORASA members and guests who attended and helped make the event such a success, and for your continued commitment to organic recycling.