The year started with a big bash at Cape Town’s convention centre where the global Partnership for a Green Economy (PAGE) held its Ministerial Conference. Government VIPs – mostly from Africa and the developing world – mixed with civil society organisations and green entrepreneurs.  A core theme was ‘inclusivity’.

Our own Kumi Naidoo, ex-head of Greenpeace and now of Amnesty International was refreshingly clear about how deep in trouble we are as a civilization and species, especially after the IPCC’s latest climate report. The green and circular economy understand there are planetary limits and work within them, but this is antithetical to the growth economy.

Food waste and how to divert, reduce and prevent it is rising in priority, due in part to the Western Province government’s targets for diversion of 50% of organic waste from landfills in three years’ time, and 100% by 2027.

GreenCape is holding a circular economy conference in March where retailers and waste industry players will be discussing how to work together with local government to help meet the targets.  Bioplastics will be a hot topic, with experts in compostable bioplastic bag and film production coming out from Italy to share their knowledge.

Litter in South Africa – what, who and why – will be the subject of a three year study funded by the DTI, run through the CSIR and managed by new Research Chair of Waste and Society  Catherina Schenk, professor of Social Work at UWC. I’ll be part of it. Four towns around the country will be the focus to come up with information that can be used to reduce health and environmental risks and increase recycling and urban dignity.