|Bag levy increase is big challenge for industry
Funds need to be used within the industry
IN A brazen moment a few years ago, when it was becoming apparent that Buyisa-e-Bag was going nowhere and the Treasury was ‘hijacking’ the funds from the bag levy, I suggested we hire a bus and head for Pretoria to toyi toyi at the offices of the departments of Finance and DEAT.
My reasoning was that we would have been more likely to get a favorable result for the industry. And, no, this didn’t take place at a braai on a Saturday night: it was at an industry function with quite a number of the bigwigs present. “What’s he on now?” I could see various individuals thinking. But the simple fact of the matter is that the funds yielded by the bag levy since have grown significantly … and the industry has not benefited a jot.
An increase in the bag levy was proposed earlier this year in the Budget, from 4c to 6c per bag (a 50% increase), and has since been gazetted, so it is going to happen. This is not welcomed in the industry, which is not surprising. But whose responsibility is this scenario? It’s nearly a decade since Buyisa came into being saying all the right things: recycling, sustainability, creating jobs, empowering people … you name it. Most of us will by now be aware that those words were mainly hollow.
Setting up a post-use collection and recycling model for an industry such as ours would be a difficult task at the best of times. The people who were entrusted with the undertaking, while enthusiastic, were out of their depth. It’s a BIG CHALLENGE for several reasons, not least that collection and recycling are expensive, and then finding uses for the resulting material is even more daunting.
Over here, common sense has since prevailed and I realize that one is not likely to get a good result out of protest – in fact, the opposite may often occur. But the people involved (and this does not only affect the bag manufacturers) need to come up with a better solution for working with government, where we get a more practical outcome. SARS has simply moved on and said that, 10 years later, it’s about time the bag levy was increased.
Plastics│SA, the bag manufacturing and recycling sector and the material suppliers need to put their heads together and possibly refloat Buyisa and start from scratch … the main objective being to access the funds from the levy for use within the industry.
Industry survey: interesting results
THERE’S a lot of interest lately in determining the size of the industry, with little if any really accurate data available. But a start was made recently in a programme sponsored by the industry’s training body MERSETA, and although a low response was achieved, the researchers found some interesting trends. The most relevant appear to be that there was higher than expected expenditure on R+D among the responding companies, and it was also noted that these companies were employing more young people than was anticipated.
Top performance at Propak / Pro-Plas
THE quality of the exhibition stands at the Propak Africa and Pro-Plas Expo in Johannesburg in March was outstanding. It wasn’t just about looking good, however: it was about doing business and sealing contracts and orders, so congrats to all of the individuals who handled this so professionally!