Implementation of circular economy regulations in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) through a platform

April 4, 2023

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CIrcular Economy

The European Commission through EU Africa RISE, SADC Business Council, and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) jointly organised a conference on the ‘Implementation of circular economy regulations in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’ on 22 and 23 February 2023 in Lusaka, Zambia. The conference aimed to mobilise regional business, government, and civil society leaders to come together around the development of a circular economy, waste management, and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) topics on a formalised platform. The Circular Economy EPR platform is an initiative EU Africa RISE together with Switch to Green Facility supports the SADC Business Council to set up.

African countries with their vast untapped natural resources and fast-growing populations have the chance to leapfrog to a low-emission and climate-resilient development model by adopting circular economy principles that enhance social inclusivity. An effective circular model for Africa must emphasise green innovations and job creation to seize local and cross-border market opportunities, as well as enhancing climate resilience through economic diversification.

A circular economy is an economic system designed to keep materials in use for as long as possible, thus minimising waste and pollution. By transitioning to a circular economy, the SADC region will improve current and future generations social, environmental, and economic wellbeing.

The conference aimed to mobilise regional business, government, and civil society leaders to come together around the development of a circular economy, waste management, and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) topics on a formalised platform. The platform, supported by EU Africa RISE, would also identify best practices, encourage local players to take ownership of this priority and prepare the implementation of a fully functional Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO).

The platform will be used to: 

  • Identify good practices in the EPR field, disseminate them widely or even reinforce the SADC legal basis. 
  • Clarify the EPR concept towards policymakers, PS and the civil society.
  • Identify and highlight the factors that drive the implementation of EPR schemes.
  • Promote constructive and more consistent longer-term cooperation between SADC member states and the business communities of the region on circular economy and EPR matters. 
  • Support the implementation of EPR and circular economy practices across MCs. 
  • It will work towards minimising the environmental impact of products across their entire lifecycle by finding ways to manage waste better, through circularity. 

The conference brought together regional private sector leaders, producers, brand owners, importers, waste management operators, chambers of commerce, trade unions, consumer organisations, municipalities, and governorates, non-governmental organisations, and civil societies, as well as universities and academies, to share their perspectives and views on circular economy implementation, challenges, investment models, and regulations.

Without changing our economies from linear to circular, the objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and its target to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees will remain out of reach,” says Bruno Hanses, Charge d’Affairs of the EU Delegation to Zambia and COMESA.

The SADC region's transition to a circular economy through the Circular Economy EPR platform can generate positive environmental outcomes by reducing waste and environmental impact, creating new business models, increasing economic growth, creating jobs, and reducing carbon emissions. It is vital to have private-public partnerships in successfully navigating challenges posed by resource availability for effective, sustainable waste management throughout the region.

Dr Mihaela Balan, Deputy Team Leader at EU Africa RISE, says it best: “This event is the first step in this journey and will help shape initial thinking on how a public-private solution could trigger the implementation of EPR in SADC and, possibly, beyond.”

After this high-level event, a structure of the platform will be developed that will inform a position paper and convene a second regional workshop to discuss the set-up of the CE/EPR platform and agree on the key recommendations outlined in the position paper.

The project will conclude in May June this year with a business plan and one-year workplan that unfold how the platform will (continue and) deliver its mandate.

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  • To see the presentations given by global experts at the conference, click here.
  • Watch the video of the conference here 
  • A second workshop will take place soon, stay tuned.