No time to waste | African Marine Waste

No time to waste in addressing Africa’s marine waste. It’s definitely green economy conference season and last week’s (9-13 July 2017) inaugural African Marine Waste Conference hosted by Sustainable Seas Trust in Port Elizabeth did not disappoint. The conference featured keynote presenters such as renowned oceanographer, Sylvia Earle from Mission Blue / National Geographic, with a planned outcome of strategic guidelines on how to handle marine waste for an African context.

The conference organizers used the platform to identify opportunities and solutions for Africa. The emphasis was on,

  • Accumulating waste in Africa: Influence of land based activities on the amount of marine waste.
  • Harnessing economic and other opportunities: What are the biggest opportunities and challenges?
  • Finding solutions, taking opportunities and developing “Best Practice for Africa”.

Waste is a human problem. There is no waste in nature – Sylvia Earle


The conference aimed to facilitate best practice for waste management while harnessing a circular economy approach. African nations can benefit from improved resource efficiency, job creation and economic development while helping safeguard its diverse and rich environment.

Dr. Jaisheila Rajput, CEO TOMA-Now presented our view on the need to consider harvested marine litter as a valuable resource. Unless this material is considered a viable feedstock, the problem will simply shift location. With a strong governmental, policy and industry focus, a platform was in place to address both challenges and opportunities. The discussion ranged around the need to establish a full scale recycled resource circular economy. Some key questions are listed.

Beyond recycling. What happens next?

  • The potential exists to have a full scale recycled resource circular economy – but what is stopping us?
  • What are the challenges and barriers that need to be overcome? Where does consumer activism fit in?
  • What is the actual situation with our waste and how is this effectively being managed or unmanaged?
  • Can marine plastic waste really be harvested as a viable input for industries, securing our marine resources while becoming an actual cost competitive commodity?

Developing a waste economy through a recycling value chain can have significant social, environmental and economic impacts. The recycling value chain can create significant opportunity for economic growth, reduced environmental footprint and a means of addressing consumer
concerns. Waste management and the use of our discarded resources has become a topic of increasing importance globally and in particular, in South Africa. The focus is on how these resources can effectively be used as raw material feedstock. TOMA-Now work with several industries on topics ranging from the development of viable waste economies to value chain development, for the purposes of guaranteed recycled feedstock supply. These are key building blocks towards building a circular economy in Africa.

The key takeaway from this conference: this is a (supported and) recognized journey that has begun.

Biomass beneficiation – What does it take to build a viable industry

TOMA-Now | Wrap-up workshop overview

We hosted a workshop on Monday, 30 January 2017 to focus on potential biomass beneficiation applications for alien vegetation. The workshop represented the culmination of a year’s work, funded by WWF Nedbank Green Trust, exploring and identifying the most high impact biomass benefication applications that would support the development of local industries, increase positive community impact and meet the needs of local businesses – a somewhat tall order. This article is a highlight of the key outcomes and way forward discussed in establishing viable biomass beneficiation industries.

Participants included key industry players, innovative startups, key technology owners, Norwegian and Swedish Trade Councils and Governmental representatives, making this a biomass beneficiation value chain representative gathering.

Numerous issues were issues were raised including,

  • Current state of invasive alien vegetation and benefits of biomass clearing.
  • Key role players and stakeholders in the industry spanning across the economic, social, and environmental spheres.
  • Data analysis needs and gaps.
  • Market potential for thermal energy using biomass – based on needs of local stakeholders.
  • Applications biomass can be used for in industry, agriculture and furniture manufacturing.

TOMA-Now | Wrap-up workshop crowd 1We provided an overview of our biomass value chain mapping work and were joined by several industry players and technology owners active in this space such as John Thompson Boilers, Viking Energy, Senfore and CSIR. We also had a presentation on an innovative, low cost solar kiln.

Overall there is a growing interest in this industry, as new opportunities and applications are unlocked. What made the TOMA-Now study different was to not only consider the location of the biomass but to identify key local stakeholders – including industry, local businesses and communities. It was identifying their needs first that allowed an effective application match to be identified.

There are still significant areas for development, including the establishment of financial frameworks that support the industry as a whole, not just the upstream alien vegetation clearing activities. The following key considerations were identified for further development in order to ensure a viable biomass beneficiation industry development,

  • TOMA-Now | Wrap-up workshop crowd 2Comprehensive data mapping (all biomass)
  • Strategic harvesting and transport
  • A effective community of practice
  • Financing frameworks
  • Localised testing laboratory and research
  • Water estimation tools
  • Landowner / product certification schemes
  • Cogeneration solutions

This work demonstrates the feasibility of a value chain-based, viable biomass beneficiation approach that gets everyone on board –  from biomass clearers to technology developers to startups and corporates. The outcome clearly shows the opportunity to viably, sustainably and exponentially develop the biomass industry through the development of a strong biomass value chain.

Top 5 Focus areas for healthy, viable value chains

We’ve scoured the web, spoken to our clients and partners, and reviewed past projects for Top 5 key focus areas and developing trends to safeguard a healthy, viable value chain. The list is by no means exhaustive but represents valuable lessons learned and upcoming focus areas.TOMA-Now | 5 Key Focus areas for a healthy value chain

  1. Technology as a core strategic driver

Production networks particularly those using global supply chains, can be complex, with issues related to outsourcing, safety standards and questionable environmental and labour practices. Although, smartphones and other technical systems seem like overkill, they are gaining acceptance especially regarding transparency and traceability. Aside from operational support, the big data analytics are helping with strategic areas like sustainability, accountability and marketing to interested customers. It’s no longer about collecting data but a stronger focus on using the data for driving key strategic business decisions.

  1. Transparency never goes out of fashion

Although this topic has been around for a while, it has recently come once more into prominence. There is an emphasis on ensuring a balance on flexibility in reducing environmental impacts while keeping in mind stakeholder demand for transparency. Continuous investigation is called for, as stakeholders demand more transparency with environmental and social impacts in the supply chain. Better traceability with improved systems helps significantly. There is a growing need to not only track where a product physically is, but if it has been modified in any way.

  1. Circular rather than linear chains

The idea of using circular supply chains is being driven by the circular economy. This approach is also synonymous with better asset management and working more effectively with resources. It’s focused on using a feedback loop to work with waste and recycled content as raw materials in manufacturing processes. This can act as both a challenge and opportunity with cost savings, value creation and reduced exposure to volatile commodity prices, as recently seen with fluctuations in the oil price. It does require a different, innovative way of looking at products as components rather than a single finished unit. There are a number of benefits, including enhanced environmental footprint and development of new (recycling) economies.

  1. Small improvements with big success

This is one of the key reasons we emphasise working with the value chain. Focus on individual parts of your chain and optimise. This holds true especially for highly complex supply chains. Working with the value chain allows for a specific focus on key areas where product value is generated. A special hyper-focus on areas of importance to the company such as carbon footprint, energy consumption or water scarcity can create a more action-oriented high impact outcome.

  1. Better relationships

We need to say that again – better relationships! So many potential opportunities are lost and projects break down due to a lack of trust or from simple relationship dynamics. The quality and nature of relationships have never been more important. This is the age of collaboration. More collaboration and benefit can be created with a balanced and mindful customer-supplier relationship.


Do you have your own Top 5 key focus area we should include? What else should we incorporate as a priority? Contact us to share your lessons learned.


TOMA-Now | Integrated reporting with Pieter Conradie

What are the benefits to integrated reporting, aside from stakeholder communication? Pieter Conradie, Progamme Director for Integrated Reporting at Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership at University of Pretoria, talks to Tomorrow Matters Now | TOMA-Now on the role integrated reporting can play in driving the Green Economy in South Africa.

Tomorrow Matters Now at Sustainable Brands Cape Town

Sustainable Brands Cape Town: The must attend sustainable business event #SB16CT

– Will we see you there?

Map value chain TOMA-Now at Sustainable BrandsOn 14–17 May 2016, Sustainable Brands will have its inaugural conference in Cape Town. Tomorrow Matters Now | TOMA-Now will join hundreds of thought leaders, brand innovators, designers, and global business leaders to explore various topics and issues pertinent to sustainability. The theme is How to tap emerging innovations to successfully scale sustainability Now and create an abundant Africa.

Tomorrow Matters Now | TOMA-Now is looking forward to participating in the event, sharing knowledge and insights on the business of sustainability. Dr Jaisheila Rajput, Founder & CEO of TOMA-Now, will host a breakout session on Tuesday, 17 May 2016, from 2:05 pm to 3:30 pm, focusing on the benefits and opportunities of mapping and developing the value chain.

We explore what happens after you’ve succeeded in getting your “house in order”. Where are the next market challenges and opportunities? How can you grow sustainably? Mapping and developing the value chain can identify not only potential risks but also opportunities for growth. We discuss what’s involved in developing and engaging with the supply chain, the benefits this brings and present three examples of local companies that are successfully engaging with their value chains.

The case studies will be followed by a panel discussion. The panel will review some of the lessons learned from working with the value chain, including the need to be innovative as well as to develop strong collaboration and trust within the supply chain.

Our presenters and panellists include,

  • Mandy NAUDE, CEO of POLYCO (Polyolefin Recycling Company)

POLYCO, is a not-for-profit industry body formed by the polyolefin converters to promote collection and recycling of post-consumer polyolefin packaging containers. Mandy will share some insights on how mapping the value can help develop the recycling industry.

  • Madoda KHUMALO, Group Resource and Sustainability Manager at Sea Harvest

Sea Harvest is a leading and innovative South African fishing company established in 1964, in the harbour town of Saldanha on the west coast of South Africa to catch, process & market Cape Capensis. Madoda will take us through the journey of establishing a waste economy and the role they play in the recycling value chain.

  • Kirsten SIMS, Good Business Journey Analyst at Woolworths

Water security in this century will depend on our ability to plan development in a way that acknowledges the limitations of our natural resources. Kirsten will discuss Woolworths water stewardship programme including tangible benefits from a shared value perspective of working with the value chain.

Key outcomes you can expect from the session:

  • Practical, tangible highly implementable solutions
  • Discovering first hand the opportunities and lessons learned
  • An engaging, interactive experience

Learn HOW Brands, Sustainability and Design find and create inspirational tools and partnerships to drive business success and positive sustainable impact NOW! Come and learn How, engage and share your story at our breakout session Now!

Value chain analysis for social impact

Performing a value chain analysis is no longer the domain of seasoned businesses or corporate players. Small businesses and start-ups can likewise use it as a strategic growth tool. Tomorrow Matters Now | TOMA-Now recently worked with the New Economy Accelerator | NEA, a social impact growth accelerator, to offer a 2-day module in their accelerator program, on mapping the value chain.

NEA supports entrepreneurs targeting and / or operating in low-income areas (base of the pyramid). Their aim is to activate local economies in South Africa to build an inclusive and prosperous society. They provide business training and support, one-on-one business coaching, access to peer mentors as well as access to investment networks for social and environmental high impact start-up enterprises servicing the base of the pyramid sector.

We used a structured approach to introduce the concept of value chain analysis with a gradual development towards growth and sustainability. Some of the topics covered include,

  • Defining the value chain: what is it? Difference between supply chain and value chain.
  • Understanding where you fit into the value chain.
  • What are the drivers both upstream and downstream from your business?
  • Developing an integrated approach: Does your product address drivers and gaps in your value chain?

Value chain_NEA2

Value chain journey

The workshop was designed with a progressive approach on developing participants understanding and ability to examine their value chains. For the purpose of this workshop, value chain analysis was used as a tool to address gaps in the entrepreneur’s business development and identify opportunities for growth. This process relies on the basic understanding of key business driver concepts such as identifying what metrics are appropriate for your business as well as being aware and acting on externalities that impact the business.

During the group work exercises and feedback sessions, entrepreneurs were guided to developing concrete action plans from analysis of their value chains. They were trained on how to obtain clarity in their service offering and business processes. A further positive was the identification of business synergies amongst participants.


Encouraging the entrepreneurs to move outside their comforts zones assisted the participants to grow and look at their businesses from a different perspective. This approach was effective as selected entrepreneurs used the opportunity to create a sounding board for their current businesses or plans for growth. Participants developed concrete actions plans to follow up on completion of the module. An accountability plan set in place by the NEA, will be able to measure growth of participants after the module.

The entrepreneurs communicated the value of the module and that it was fitting to learn the concept of utilizing the value chain for growth and sustainability in the new economy they are pioneering. We enjoyed watching the participants adopt the concept of value chain thinking and create action plans for their business growth. The approach taken is not unlike that followed by larger organisations with a focus on staying agile in the market place. We look forward to these pioneering social impact entrepreneurs using their value chains to grow and create more opportunity locally.

Have a similar story you’d like to share or like to map your value chain? Email us or please let us know in the comments section.


TOMA Now | WWF on water value chain

Dean Muruven, WWF South Africa Water Source Areas Program Manager, talks to TOMA-Now about the development of the water value chain as a means of addressing water scarcity in South Africa. He discusses how business can play a pivotal role in securing the water value chain. Dean also presents some examples on WWF South Africa’s current and future work on water security and development of the biomass industry value chain.

TOMA-Now & Woolworths | Value chain focus


Industry expert and Responsible Sourcing Manager at Woolworths Foods, Tom Mclaughlin, chats with TOMA-Now on the importance of the value chain to Woolworths. Tom shares an interesting example and gives advice to those wanting to develop their own value chains – focus on risk management and collaboration!