Food for thoughts!
In collaboration with a group of like-minded people, we embarked on an inspiring trade mission to promote Circular Waste Management in South Africa. This beautiful country is brimming with various circular initiatives, which we were eagerly looking forward to explore during our visit. Our first official trip was a visit to Kraaifontein Intergrated Waste Management facility, and it left a profound impact on me. I witnessed numerous dedicated individuals meticulously sorting through vast amounts of waste by hand, searching for recyclable materials.
As I observed the situation through my Dutch eyes, my mind immediately began brainstorming solutions to address “the problem”. Ideas of implementing advanced techniques and machinery to enhance efficiency and achieve better outcomes. However, we pondered whether this approach would truly be the optimal solution for South Africa. Perhaps it would be more beneficial to provide employment opportunities for many individuals, granting them a source of income and the chance for a better life. Food for thoughts.
One of the highlights of my journey was visiting the Innovation Village at the Hearfelt Arena. It was an extraordinary experience as four trade missions (including circular waste management, hydrogen, innovative agriculture, and knowledge delegation) converged in one place. The presence of our Royal Couple added grandeur to the occasion as Memorandums of Understanding were signed in the esteemed presence of Minister of Agriculture Piet Adema.
A life changing experience
Reflecting upon this experiences is overwhelming; words cannot fully capture the depth of emotions I felt throughout this journey. A diverse group of strangers united by their passion for Circular Waste Management embarked on a trade mission in South Africa. Throughout the week, not only did we gain insights into the country’s culture and landscape but also forged meaningful connections with one another.
Remembering our initial visit to a waste management plant, we found ourselves eager to offer advice on how things could be improved – typical know-it-alls. However, we soon realized that knowledge alone is not enough; understanding the complexities of South Africa’s situation is paramount. We discovered that this beautiful country aspires to progress in terms of sustainability and innovation, yet has to deal with a staggering unemployment rate of 30%, making job creation a top priority. Additionally, improving waste collection infrastructure in townships poses another significant challenge.
For now, I will let the dust settle and contemplate how I can contribute to this cause. This incredible journey has not only enriched me personally but also enlightened me about the power of collective effort. I extend my gratitude to all participants who played an instrumental role in making this trade mission an overwhelming success.