What business opportunities are available in the environmental and waste management industries...

What business opportunities are available in the environmental and waste management industries and in the eco, green business sectors?

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Think Green

There are many ways to turn trash to cash. Sorting for recycling, battery recycling, waste processing, renewable energy solutions, acid mine drainage and infectious clinical and hazardous waste disposal are just some of the many possibilities. There are some very useful websites that will point you in the right direction in terms of needs and trends.

Local sites

The Institute of Waste Management: There’s loads of information on the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) website. This information includes training and education. This organisation comprises of voluntary members who promote environmentally acceptable, cost effective and appropriate waste management practices in South Africa.

Science Africa: This local online magazine has lots of news, funding and grant information regarding environmental, scientific and health issues directly affecting society.

Earthlife Africa:
Earthlife Africa encourages and supports individuals, businesses and industries to reduce pollution, minimise waste and protects natural resources.

E-waste
: eWASA is the e-waste association of South Africa – is the platform for recycling of electrical and electronic waste in South Africa.
International sites

Ideas Inspiring Innovation: For international waste management ideas.

Waste-Management World: This online magazine is packed with ideas and information.

Training and skill requirements

You do not need specific skills to operate a business in the environmental and waste management industry. Experience in the industry is beneficial. There are short courses as well as a variety of formal qualifications on offer. Contact the IWMSA for more information on short courses. These courses concern waste management usually take two days.

Formal qualifications include:

  • Waste management and pollution control (Usually a BSc degree with subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Climatology)
  • Technikon diploma – Environmental Science or Engineering
  • Environmental engineering Degree
  • B Tech degree in Civil Engineering

Most of the major educational institutions in South Africa offer these courses. For more information about workshops and short training courses, contact the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

Producing energy and selling it in South Africa

Many good reasons exist for South Africa to invest in private renewable energy projects. These reasons are dominated by environmental concerns, diversity of supply, job creation and economic development.

It’s vital to reduce South Africa’s carbon footprint
Reducing the carbon footprint in South Africa is a very serious issue. This can be achieved in many ways. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small or large project – solar cookers, LED energy efficient lighting, wind energy or solar heated geysers, it all adds up in an effort to foster clean energy generation.

The SWH opportunity
By the end of December 2010, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) will publish amended national building regulations to make it compulsory for new buildings and upgrades to homes to install solar water heaters (SWHs) and other energy efficiency building requirements. It is expected that from March 2011 the dti will ensure that legislation is enacted to make it compulsory to install a SWH when an existing geyser is replaced.

Government is keen to fund electricity generation
The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has stated that it is keen to fund electricity generation and, since the world is moving towards clean energy generation, solar is one of the IDC’s many clean electricity generation technologies of focus to deliver green jobs throughout the value chain. All these new regulations not only help our planet, but create wonderful new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

CST is the most promising renewable energy source

Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CST) is viewed as “the most promising renewable- energy generation option in South Africa” and it should receive priority support, even though wind and biomass should also be explored and developed, says the dti.

Biomass is plant material, either raw or processed, and includes agricultural residues, wood waste, paper trash, municipal solid waste (MSW), energy crops and methane captured from landfill sites. The problem is that the capital cost for building a biomass power plant is high.

Raising the money
Many expected Government to provide the financial support to make renewable energy into a viable business, but it has limited budgets. Financiers see renewable energy as a high-risk investment, so entrepreneurs have to think out the box to get new projects up and running.

Venture capital specialists and angel investors are possible alternative routes to consider when looking for funding. Venture Capitalists and angel investors are more likely to take risks. Venture capitalists are always willing and able to invest money in young and early stage companies. Angel investors are wealthy individuals seeking to invest their own money in early stage companies.

Speak to experts

The dti could also be a useful organisation to consult with, as it is heavily involved in the renewable energy industry. If you have specific projects talk to Mainstream Renewable Power SA. Its core business is to develop, build and operate wind energy, solar thermal and ocean current plants by collaborating with governments, power companies, developers and investors across South Africa, Europe, North America and South America.

Speak to energy efficiency networking associations such as The Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency (SAEE). Besides networking, they run renewable energy training courses including Introduction to Energy Management (IEMT), Certified Energy Auditor Course, Certified Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP) and Certified Energy Manager Course (CEM). Organisations such as the SAEE, attract organisations and funders that would be interested in innovative ideas with in the renewable energy industry.

Being Green in Business

The advantages of complying with the NEM Act is that it not only will business lower energy bills, but but will contribute to creating a healthy carbon footprint, reduce CO2 and reduce risk.

Is there a local standard for business to comply with?

In South Africa the department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) controls and monitors “green” business issues through the environmental management inspectorate, known as the Green Scorpions. They issue compliance notices to businesses who do not meet Government standards.

Those who fail to comply have to cease with activities that are considered a contravention of the country’s National Environmental Management Act (NEMA). The Act describes compliance standards.

How to get green

To get “green”, a business needs professional guidance. The certification process is independent of Government. However, it provides a business with real product differentiation, resulting in greater revenue and recognition from an increasingly selective market.

Independent certification provides assurance to the public that your company is operated and managed in an environmentally responsible manner and associating with your commitment provides peace of mind and respect.

There are various companies that you contact for certification. There are a number of companies who offer different specialities.

  • Heritage – The Environmental Management Company
  • Eco-Consulting
  • The Natural Step – South Africa
  • Green Earth Consulting

Bodies that monitor the Green industry in South Africa

Other than the DEA, there are some very useful organisations that will point you in the right direction in terms of needs and trends.

  • The Institute of Waste Management: There’s loads of information on the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) website. This information includes training and education. This organisation comprises of voluntary members who promote environmentally acceptable, cost effective and appropriate waste management practices in South Africa.
  • Science Africa: This local online magazine has lots of news, funding and grant information regarding environmental, scientific and health issues directly affecting society.
  • Earthlife Africa: Earthlife Africa encourages and supports individuals, businesses and industries to reduce pollution minimise waste and protects natural resources.
  • E-waste: eWASA is the e-waste association of South Africa – is the platform for recycling of electrical and electronic waste in South Africa.

International sites

  • Ideas Inspiring Innovation: For international waste management ideas.
  • Waste-Management World: This online magazine is packed with ideas and information.

Why is running a green business so important?

Besides saving the planet and leaving a healthy legacy, going “green” is a powerful marketing tool which reinforces your company’s environmental commitment. It strengthens your point-of-sale impact and gives your company greater credibility in an increasingly eco-aware marketplace.

How has small business responded to “going green”?

According to an article which appeared on BizCommunity, Arthur Goldstuck, principal researcher of SME Survey 2010, said that the survey produced unexpected results in terms of “green business”. The assumption that peripheral concerns such as “being green” might be of less interest than establishing a profitable business was disproved when 78% reported that it is indeed important.

That’s exceptionally high. Goldstuck says this is almost certainly a consequence of business owners bringing their personal viewpoints of the necessity for environmentally sound practices into the workplace. Perhaps even more surprising is that emerging businesses were slightly more concerned than established companies. (Source BizCommunity)

Has the recession had an effect on clean energy and green business?

According to Greg Fisher, a lecturer and researcher in entrepreneurship, the recession has diverted people’s attention away from green issues; however, there is still a strong focus on managing businesses and the environment in a more sustainable way.

Fisher said that venture capitalists have large amounts of money set aside for green investments and many of the green ideas that were launched two years back at the height of the boom are now entering the market. In the coming months we will see a host of electric cars come to market, many of them developed by new independent companies.

“We will also continue to see bio fuels become a more mainstream alternative to current fossil fuels. New industries are emerging and with those come opportunities for entrepreneurs,” explains Fisher.

Training and skill requirements

You do not need specific skills to operate a business in the environmental and waste management industry. However, experience in the industry is beneficial. There are short courses as well as a variety of formal qualifications on offer. Contact the IWMSA for more information on short courses. These courses concern waste management usually take two days.

Formal qualifications include:

  • Waste management and pollution control (Usually a BSc degree with subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Climatology)
  • Technikon diploma – Environmental Science or Engineering
  • Environmental engineering Degree
  • B Tech degree in Civil Engineering
  • Most of the major educational institutions in South Africa offer these courses. For more information about workshops and short training courses, contact the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

Green Opportunities are growing

The SWH opportunity

By the end of December 2010, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) will publish amended national building regulations to make it compulsory for new buildings and upgrades to homes to install solar water heaters (SWHs) and other energy efficiency building requirements.

It is expected that from March 2011 the dti will ensure that legislation is enacted to make it compulsory to install a SWH when an existing geyser is replaced.

Government is keen to fund electricity generation

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has stated that it is keen to fund electricity generation and, since the world is moving towards clean energy generation, solar is one of the IDC’s many clean electricity generation technologies of focus to deliver green jobs throughout the value chain.

All these new regulations not only help our planet, but create wonderful new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

CST is the most promising renewable energy source

Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CST) is viewed as “the most promising renewable- energy generation option in South Africa” and it should receive priority support, even though wind and biomass should also be explored and developed, says the dti.

Biomass is plant material, either raw or processed, and includes agricultural residues, wood waste, paper trash, municipal solid waste (MSW), energy crops and methane captured from landfill sites. The problem is that the capital cost for building a biomass power plant is high.

Think out the box

Many expected Government to provide the financial support to make renewable energy into a viable business, but it has limited budgets. Financiers see renewable energy as a high-risk investment, so entrepreneurs have to think out the box to get new projects up and running.

Venture capital specialists and angel investors are possible alternative routes to consider when looking for funding. Venture Capitalists and angel investors are more likely to take risks. Venture capitalists are always willing and able to invest money in young and early stage companies. Angel investors are wealthy individuals seeking to invest their own money in early stage companies.

Speak to experts

The dti could also be a useful organisation to consult with, as it is heavily involved in the renewable energy industry. If you have specific projects talk to Mainstream Renewable Power SA. Its core business is to develop, build and operate wind energy, solar thermal and ocean current plants by collaborating with governments, power companies, developers and investors across South Africa, Europe, North America and South America.

Speak to energy efficiency networking associations such as The Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency (SAEE). Besides networking, they run renewable energy training courses including Introduction to Energy Management (IEMT), Certified Energy Auditor Course, Certified Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP) and Certified Energy Manager Course (CEM). Organisations such as the SAEE, attract organisations and funders that would be interested in innovative ideas with in the renewable energy industry.

South Africa is very green conscious

South African rose to prominence last year when President Jacob Zuma agreed to bold emissions targets for South Africa. The eyes of the world are on South Africa, as it prepares to take over leadership from the Mexican government as the host of the international climate negotiations in 2011.

The Cancun Communiqué is an initiative of the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change.  South African business leaders have expressed a desire to support Cancun Communique  with more than 25 South African companies have endorsed the Communiqué, including Santam, SAPPI, Group Five, Allied Electronics Corporation, Nedbank and Vodacom.

For more information:

Heritage Environmental Company

Eco Consulting

Business Enterprises at University of Pretoria

Green Earth Consulting

Department of Environmental Affairs