Embracing Sustainable Development Practices ­­as part of the OR Tambo SEZ

As an economic development tool, the South African Special Economic Zone programme can play a fundamental role in the Country’s economic future, given its desired focus to drive and grow manufacturing-led industrialization. The benefits of manufacturing notwithstanding, global concerns on the environmental effects of traditional manufacturing practices are growing; in tandem with emerging business practices that seek to support sustainable and low-carbon manufacturing solutions.

One of the ideas being employed in pursuit of more efficient and sustainable production practices is the Circular Economy (“CE”), a concept that, although relatively new, is gaining a lot of attention from the academic community as well as the public and private sector.

Globally, CE is acknowledged as one of the approaches that will help the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) be achieved, with numerous governments promoting the adoption of CE policies and principles in order to fulfil their SDG commitments. 

Underpinned by the concepts of reduce, reuse, and recycle, CE aims to reduce waste and pollution by optimizing the resources in a manufacturing process. 

Specific to the OR Tambo International Airport SEZ, the CE approach is at the center of its industrial development approach.  The OR Tambo SEZ does this by pursuing a cluster approach to its manufacturing activities.  Through this, manufacturing value chains that take into account a specific industry’s inputs, materials, processes, and products are located at the Zone, based on three CE principles or considerations:

Whilst there are numerous CE solutions that can be applied in the development of an industrial park or SEZ, the OR Tambo SEZ’s focus is primarily on the above. To this end, its objective is on ensuring that as far as possible, sustainable development and operational practices are pursued and entrenched in the SEZ.

Despite this bold objective, it is impossible to deny that more work must be done to develop an innovative and efficient system that will support a viable CE model at the OR Tambo SEZ. Due to scarcity factors (such as land) necessary to facilitate on-site water treatment, waste management or even a full on off-grid energy solution, the OR Tambo SEZ is presently exploring creative ways through which it can further address CE issues at its Phase 1 operational precinct. 

It is also engaging with market players on the next phases of development; with a view of ensuring that ORTIA Precinct 2 (a 29ha land parcel located next to Precinct 1 and in proximity to OR Tambo International Airport) and the Springs Precinct (a 13ha land parcel located next to a major platinum refinery) are designed as sustainable manufacturing eco-parks. 

For more information visit www.ortambosez.co.za