Sibanye-Stillwater, a unique, diversified, global mining group, celebrates and supports Global Recycling Day on 18 March 2022, which marks the 5th anniversary of this event – an initiative that encourages us to look at all our waste streams differently and creates awareness on the importance of recycling waste and conserving resources.
Sibanye-Stillwater’s vision is “to be a leader in superior shared value for all stakeholders and to support climate change reversal”. This vision is given expression in part through our commitment to carbon neutrality by 2040. Our roadmap to carbon neutrality is augmented by other supporting initiatives including a commitment to reduce our hazardous and general waste to landfill. Reducing, recycling, re-using and recovering waste streams within the context and principles of a circular waste economy will allow us to reduce GHG emissions along various supply chains.
Our efforts to minimise waste include the identification of priority waste streams (inter alia plastics, grease etc) the capturing and reporting of accurate and verifiable waste volumes and the setting of relevant and appropriate waste reduction targets for each of these streams towards our long-term goal of zero-waste-to-landfill.
DIVERTING WASTE FROM LANDFILL: AN OPPORTUNITY TO REDUCE GHG EMISSIONS
According to the World Bank’s ‘What a Waste 2.0’ report1, the depletion of landfill airspace is a global issue due to approximately 45% of our waste being disposed of in landfills whilst only 19% is recovered through recycling (World Bank, 2018). This is exacerbated by challenges in operating and decommissioning landfill sites in a manner that is environmentally sustainable and compliant with licensing conditions.
Landfills produce landfill gas (LFG), a by-product of decomposing organic material which typically consists of 50% methane and 50% carbon dioxide (CO2), both primary contributors to greenhouse-gas emissions and thus climate change.
South Africa is ranked as the 13th highest emitter of GHG emissions in the world2, emitting approximately 8 metric tonnes of CO2-e per person. In 2021, Sibanye-Stillwater emitted a total of 139 992 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2-e) of Scope 1 and 3 emissions just from waste generation and disposal. Our zero waste to landfill commitment will seek to minimise this impact.
- Source: Silpa et al., 2018: What a Waste 2.0 : A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050. Urban Development;. Washington, DC: World Bank. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/30317
- Sourced: Friedlingstein et al., 2021 : The Global Carbon Budget 2021, Earth System Science Data. Available at: https://doi.org/10.18160/gcp-2021
WASTE MANAGEMENT: A STEP-CHANGE IN PROGRESS
To unlock and derive value from the waste we generate, Sibanye-Stillwater’s approach towards waste management is driven by the circular economy and employs the Waste Management Hierarchy as follows:
The application of the Waste Management Hierarchy within Sibanye-Stillwater
- Composting of sewage sludge at both our SA Gold and SA PGM operations – this sewage sludge is earmarked to be sold off as feedstock for the production of fertilizer.
- The conversion of CaSOx waste (CaSO3) from our PGM metallurgical facilities in South Africa and the US, via a chemical oxidation process into a commercial gypsum product. This can be used as an input source into cement production as opposed to landfill disposal.
- The US PGM operations have a chemical review for all new products, rejecting chemicals with safety and environmental risk, thus keeping waste generation low.
Re-use of waste
- Refurbishment of old, broken and non-working equipment and components thereof (e.g. wood, snatch blocks, wedge bolts, camlocks, etc.) from mining operations and workshops, to be returned back to the operations for further use.
- Synthetic gypsum that is created in the US PGM operations’ pollution control processes is used for agricultural beneficiation.
- Recycling initiatives whilst ongoing will be ramped up. At our SA operations contracts are in place for salvage yard management by external services providers for the recycling of general waste (such as plastic, paper and mixed rubble) and hazardous waste (such as electronic waste and transformers with oil). In 2021 the SA operations generated some R23m from the sale of recoverable materials. These salvage yard management contracts are geared towards increased rates of recycling, re-use and recoveries through incentives
- Sibanye-Stillwater’s US operations are a global leader in recycling of spent autocatalysts, which yielded 755.149oz of 3E in 2021. The recycling of autocatalysts has excellent ESG credentials by virtue of its relatively lower environmental footprint, with 6 times less CO2 emissions, using 63 times less water and generating 90 times less waste rock compared to conventional underground PGM production at the US operations.
- Waste oil is recovered at our operations, collected by a used oil recycling company and cleaned/de-contaminated for further use by external parties in an open market.
Disposal as a last resort
- On-going disposal of general and hazardous waste to onsite and offsite landfills.
BE A CHANGE AGENT FOR RESPONSIBLE WASTE MANAGEMENT AND RECYCLING!
Below are some of the practical ways in which you can positively change or influence behaviour towards waste in your personal area, in your workspace and your community:
- Understand our waste challenge and its impacts – globally, locally and within your area of responsibility.
- Understand waste streams in your area of influence, look for the potential value in each of these streams and identify those that can be partially or completely diverted from landfill.
- Get familiar with our Waste Position Statement Waste Management Procedure and identify, classify and separate different waste accordingly.
- Know and understand the Waste Management Hierarchy and drive opportunities to employ the waste management hierarchy by avoiding, reducing, recycling and recovering waste AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, and by disposing of waste (landfilling) AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE!
- Buy or use recyclable products, regardless of whether it’s the product itself or its packaging. Avoid disposable and non-biodegradable items such as plastic, Styrofoam, etc.
- Use common services more often, like renting equipment and tools instead of buying them.
- Support recycling initiatives in your community and in the workplace
- Make recycling part of your daily life