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  • Miyuki Niyungeko

Eco-Innovation in Botswana: Strategies for Implementing a Circular Economy



Botswana is well-known for its breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and thriving diamond industry. The country acts as a beacon of stability and hope in Southern Africa. With a population of over 2.5 million, Botswana has a stable economic growth rate and a comparatively high level of life. However, this growth brings with it significant environmental challenges. The country generates substantial waste, mainly due to urbanisation and industrial activities, which place immense pressure on its waste management systems. Less than 20% of this material is now recycled; the rest is in waterways, illegal dumps, and landfills.  The Botswana Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism states that the country's largest city, Gaborone, home to some 250,000 people, produces more than 500 tons of waste daily. These figures demonstrate the urgent need for environmentally friendly waste management strategies to save Botswana's natural heritage and guarantee a greener future.


Current Environmental Obstacles in Botswana


Botswana's environmental challenges are complex, particularly concerning waste management. Waste creation in the country has grown immensely due to rapid urbanisation, previous policy regulations and economic expansion, but the nation still needs a suitable infrastructure for waste treatment. This ineffective waste management leads to inappropriate disposal techniques, which seriously pollute the ecosystem. Ineffective waste management policies, inadequate recycling facilities, and financial constraints further complicate the citation, increasing illegal dumping and hindering sustainable development.


In addition, Botswana's Economy is vulnerable to market fluctuations and the eventual depletion of diamond reserves due to its reliance on diamond mining. The need to diversify the economy into other sectors, such as tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing, is ongoing but faces numerous obstacles​. Water scarcity is also a persistent issue in Botswana. The semi-arid climate and variable rainfall patterns exacerbate this problem, making it difficult to ensure a reliable water supply for agriculture, industry, and daily living needs. 


Finally, rising temperatures and changing weather patterns adversely impact agriculture and water resources in Botswana. Due to climate change, the country is facing more frequent and severe droughts, which negatively affect crop yields and livestock production and exacerbate food and water insecurity. Addressing these impacts requires comprehensive adaptation and holistic mitigation strategies, including the development of resilient agricultural practices and improved water management systems.


Botswana’s Potential: From Waste to Opportunity


Botswana is joining many African countries in the movement towards a circular economy. The platform's objectives, four pillars, and how it would arrange meetings and conversations on specific subjects about environmental protection and the circular Economy were all highlighted during the event.  The platform is expected to facilitate the mechanism for members of the public and private sectors to share optimal practices, ideas, and designs, create or increase circularity models, and develop collective approaches to incorporate the circular economy and EPR(Extended Producer Responsibility) market


Many stakeholders reached out to  EU Africa RISE requesting that waste management models be created and tested, that research be done to understand better the role that the private sector ought to participate in waste management, including within an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework, analyse advantages and difficulties of self-regulation in waste management, enhance waste management policies, draw essential lessons, and identify the most compelling insights into waste management in African contexts. 


Moreover, Botswana is currently improving its regulatory framework regarding proper e-waste management. The Department of Waste Management and Pollution Control (DWMPC) produced an Integrated Waste Management Policy. This policy will facilitate the management of Botswana's waste streams, including e-waste. A specific legal framework is needed to manage e-waste safely and effectively. Additionally, a management system that helps convert garbage is required rather than disposal in landfills.)


Private and Public Sector Initiatives in Botswana:


In Botswana, several significant circular economy projects revolve around waste management. While waste management is still a significant obstacle in the country, Botswana’s private and public sectors have taken enormous strides towards a more sustainable future. The country's circular economy initiatives have created opportunities to explore a wide range of waste materials. 


ENVIRO RECOVERY BOTSWANA: an innovative organisation devoted to tickling plastic waste by collecting and transforming it into valuable resources. They specialise in processing plastic waste in plastic pellets, which are then used to produce recycled materials such as plastic furniture. This process reduces plastic pollution and exemplifies the principles of the circular economy, where materials are recycled and reused in a closed-loop system while minimising waste and maximising resource efficiency.


GREEN LOOP: a recycling company in Botswana responsible for managing various recyclable materials, such as plastics, paper, glass, and metals. They collect recyclable waste from households and businesses, processing it efficiently, and later supplying the resulting materials to industries for manufacturing purposes. This innovative and proactive process reduces environmental impact and creates a circular economy model in Botswana.


BOTSWANA ASH: a mining company in the public sector that produces soda ash, an essential ingredient in numerous industries. They have moved away from a linear system to enhance sustainability. This innovative approach significantly reduces waste and optimises resource efficiency, ensuring that materials are utilised to the maximum extent possible. Therefore, Botswana Ash is leading by example in minimising ecological impact while maintaining high production standards.


EUROPEAN UNION: The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Business Council requested that the European Union (EU) Africa RISE establish the SADC Circular Economy and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Platform. The platform was initiated in 2020 and is a partnership between the SADC Business Council and two EU-funded initiatives, the EU´s Switch Green Facility and EU Africa RISE.


Botswana’s Ministry of the Environment, natural Resource Conservation and Tourism: entered the field of recycling to promote healthy environments and ecological preservation and to advance Botswana's need for means of reducing poverty. The ministry carried out a waste management project in collaboration with UNDP to demonstrate how recycling can be incorporated into various spheres of people’s lives. The project served as a means of expanding the use of the Integrated Waste Management Policy.


Botswana Climate Change Network (BCCN)and other companies such as PlastiCycle, Ngawo Glass, Eco Zera Pencils take pride in leading efforts that advance sustainability, environmental consciousness, and the circular Economy. 


Circular Vision for Botswana


Circular Economy is a new and innovative approach to minimising waste, extending product lifespans, and optimising resource use, departing from the linear “take-make-dispose” model. First, to transition to a circular economy, Botswana must incorporate efficient waste management systems. Strategies the government could utilise would be establishing and developing more sustainable infrastructure, updating policy and regulations, and adopting technology to facilitate the recycling process.


Promoting sustainable product design is crucial to extending product lifespans. This could be done by using more eco-friendly materials designed for longevity and providing incentives for companies to encourage innovation. Moreover, collaborating with stakeholders such as governments, businesses, academia, non-governmental organisations, and communities could catapult Botswana into a thriving circular economy. Lastly, promoting circular business models and raising consumer awareness could drive economic growth while lowering environmental impact.


These efforts will ultimately steer Botswana towards a circular economy and greener future, leading to waste reduction, resource conservation, and sustainable economic development. This goal will eventually align with global initiatives against plastic pollution and building a resilient future. Promoting sustainable product design and circular business models will allow for the advancement of a circular economy in Botswana. Encouraging eco-friendly materials, improving product durability, and supporting modular design and reparability will drive sustainability efforts. In addition, implementing Extended Producer Responsibility(EPR) policies in Botswana will hold manufacturers accountable for their products during their entire life cycle, including disposal and recycling. Moreover, supporting businesses that integrate circular economy principles is crucial. Botswana can offer financial incentives, tax breaks, and grants to companies implementing sustainable practices such as product leasing, take-back schemes, and remanufacturing, reinforcing the shift towards a more sustainable business model.


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