GEORGE NEWS - The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on yet another business in town - Interwaste in George is closing their doors.
According to Kate Stubbs, the business development director at Interwaste, the global recycling market was already experiencing tough times, with no prospect of a positive change in the near future.
"We have had to take very tough business decisions that would certainly not have been made under different circumstances," said Stubbs. Interwaste will be closing most of their services out of the George depot, effective by mid-August.
"We are devastated to have to make this call, which will very sadly result in the loss of jobs. All affected staff have already been notified and consulted around this and we are working with them to support them in every way possible," said Stubbs.
Interwaste has terminated their service agreement for the collection and management of the blue bags project, effective as of 31 July. Stubbs said this was another extremely difficult business decision.
"We took all reasonable steps to ensure a smooth transition in handing over the services back to the George Municipality and provided the municipality with 60 days' notice, as opposed to the contractual 30 days, to ensure we gave them time to ramp up capacity to manage this project themselves," said Stubbs.
"We hope that, in the near future, the world will look a little different and that there will be more room and collaboration globally for projects of this nature to take centre stage once again."
Municipal spokesperson Chantel Edwards-Klose said the municipality plans to run recycling in-house. "The contract is scheduled to terminate 31 July, however a meeting has been scheduled to discuss the possibility of extending their contract with one month. The extension will enable the municipality to properly plan the taking over of the recycling," said Edwards-Klose.
Stubbs applauded the municipality for a "phenomenal job" at raising awareness of and driving sustainability around recycling.
"It is a project that the local citizens are very passionate about and one that, as a leader in environmental solutions, is very close to our own hearts," she said. "So many community members that rely on the blue bags project have really taken the time to become waste warriors and have committed to the recycling future of South Africa.
"We would like to thank all these community members for their commitment and ask that they continue to drive this forward with passion, alongside the municipality."
Regional landfill site
Interwaste is consulting with the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) regarding the regional landfill site project, which involves several B-municipalities in the district. "The GRDM and Interwaste are still in discussions on a solution going forward and due to the legal parameters and sensitivities, we are unable to provide further comment on this at this stage," said Stubbs.
An update on the project was included in the latest agenda (27 July) of the GRDM, as part of their Corporate Plan for 2020/2021. It reads as follows: "Discussions between the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), GRDM and the Service Provider (Interwaste) took place recently to try to resolve the funding and construction of the site. Positive feedback was received recently that the Service Provider will continue with the public-private partnership (PPP) agreement and more discussions will take place to finalise the matter."
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the construction of the regional landfill site could not commence in April as was envisaged. Furthermore, the impact of the pandemic had the service provider experiencing financial difficulties.
The project has taken many years of planning through a PPP process to get to the final stage of agreement between all the participating municipalities. The item reads: "The income for the financial year 2019/2020 was budgeted at R2-million which could not be realised due to legal processes and final inputs from some of the participating B-municipalities. The loss of income for 2020/2021 was projected at R3,5-million and for 2021/2022 a total of R6,4-million."
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