By Byron Mutingwende
There are brighter prospects and benefits for industries that comply with environmental requirements, an official with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has said.
Brian Gada, an official with the Environmental Protection Department of EMA made the remarks at a meeting organised by the Business Council for Sustainable Development Zimbabwe (BCSDZ) that focused on environmental legal compliance with perspectives from regulators and the industry held at the Royal Harare Golf Club on 30 January 2018.
“Industry should produce at less harm to the environment. It is a fact that we all need power but energy for production should be produced with less harm to the environment and health of the people. While in the past corporates were primarily driven by the need to make profits, new environmental pressures require that industries should harness new changes in the global discourse.
“There are new laws on the movement of chemicals from one country to another. At one time asbestos exports were threatened with a ban but industry lobbied until that commodity was not listed. Industry should be prepared to adapt to the depletion of resources and be alive to the fact that the environment as a hub for resources should be protected,” Gada said.
He said laws were meant to control the negative impacts of industrial activities to the environment. Gada alluded to the importance of recycling and the use of clean, renewable and sustainable energy sources.
“The 21st century shows clear signs of corporate strategy being driven by environmental pressures. Major changes in corporate strategy are clearly visible due to the increased environmental concerns of stakeholders and the fact that being `green’ pays through cost reduction and increased market entry. Industry is faced with increased competition, knowledge and scarcity of resources. Corporates are facing unique and diverse challenges associated with sustainability and the need to use less resources per unit of economic output and reducing the environmental impact of any resources that are used or economic activities that are undertaken.
“Environmental Management issues are now playing a pivotal role in facilitating business profitability and competitiveness. Corporates now need to invest more in ensuring that they have a green image and safe environment for them to be able to continue to thrive in the market place. The existing sub-theories of corporate strategy are slowly being modified to include environmental problems and concerns, concurrently they are also being broadened to incorporate the principles of sustainable development,” Gada noted.
Gada reiterated that corporates should have good Environmental Management practises in order for them to survive the current dispensation.
“Such systems will enhance their performance, reduce costs and help in penetrating new markets. Good environmental practices will widen market and clients because of the increased level of knowledge of the current generation, people tend to buy green and companies need to cope or they lose clients.”
Shingirai Marunza, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) Chief Inspector of Factories took participants on laws on occupational safety and health.
“The Pneumoconiosis Act Chapter 15:08 notes that workers shouldn’t be certified to work in dusty settings. On the other hand, the Mines and Minerals Act Chapter 21:05 and its regulations applies in the mines and quarries set-up. The NSSA (Accident Prevention) (Workers Compensation Scheme) Notice No. 68 of 1990 and the Labour Act, Chapter 28.01 are fragmented pieces of legislation that also apply to industry and the environment,” Marunza said.
Marunza said Zimbabwe should adopt Vision Zero and urged a buy-in from employees on occupational safety and health so as to make employment sustainable. He also called for an adoption of ISO45001 as a way of harnessing systems that work well even in the absence of supervisors or managers.
A survey on environmental legislation by the BCSDZ revealed challenges around financing; repetitive licensing requirement on vehicles to transport the chemicals, the licence to transport the chemicals , licence to store and handle the same product and high compliance prices or fees in that area.
The survey also cited lining of waste dumps and landfills fees for NORM pegged at US $15000 Registration of Mine Clinics as exorbitant as well as the expensive technology needed to treat the waste water to meet legal requirements. The recommendation was for coordinated efforts by companies and legal bodies to come up with cheaper technologies and ways to work together.
“From the survey, it can be concluded that legislation and compliance is recognised as necessary for achieving sustainability. Selected companies require support through capacity building and training. The lack of financing is affecting most companies to meet legal limits. There is need for more collaboration between regulators and industry. BCSDZ is in support of strengthening compliance to regulations whilst also enhancing capacity of companies and technical knowledge.”