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The barriers and opportunities of resource efficiency and cleaner production within a South African context
This research study investigates how environmental tools such as Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production (RECP) can contribute to sustaining and supporting economic growth in South Africa. Resource optimisation is crucial when considering the concept of sustainable development. It also contributes to addressing the challenges of global warming and climate change, which in turn threaten industrial growth and sustainability in the long term. The study places emphasis on the barriers that prevent industry from implementing RECP recommendations, and identifies opportunities that could potentially reposition businesses should they consider implementation. It also promotes other sustainability tools that are available through collaboration with international entities, and this could be of great benefit to the South African industry. Factors of unemployment and urbanisation restricts national growth to some degree, hence the study explores how RECP can contribute to job retention by introducing new resource optimisation methodologies for the manufacturing sector, Moreover, it examines the imbalance between the demand as well as limitations of these resources. Through the compilation of data collated from questionnaires completed by industry, government and civil society participants, this study looks at achieving a balance between environmental sustainability and growth. It also looks at aligning this balance with the integration of specific economic and environmental policies, which also includes social aspects. What comes through significantly in this research is the lack of awareness within industry in terms of RECP, as well as the importance of prioritising the uptake of environmental initiatives to ensure that industry is compliant with the stringent policies and legislation designed by government to drive the sustainability process. Consequently the study shows that communication between public and private sector, as well as the awareness raising and marketing of sustainability to consumers need to be improved. An analysis of the various government support mechanisms is conducted, in respect of how industry could potentially leverage growth and drive positive change within their businesses. In addition to RECP, emphasis is placed on other Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) initiatives and tools that could possibly entrench sustainable practices and help with their incorporation into their business strategies.