Waste sector small and medium-sized enterprises and their role in the extended producer responsibility; a case study of environmental responsibility in SMEs in eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa).
Haines, Carla Jane.
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Both the waste sector and corporate enterprises, under the banner of corporate social and environmental responsibility (CSER), have a role to play in sustainable development, particularly in the South African context where legislation supports the waste hierarchy in its approach to waste management, and the promotion of employment and small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs, due to their vast number and the significance of their aggregate contribution to the global economy, have been identified as key contributors to sustainable development. Global supply chains rely heavily on SME suppliers and service providers, yet the combined environmental impact of SMEs remains un-quantified and their engagement in CSER is underexplored. This research explores the role that SMEs play in extended producer and environmental responsibility from a waste management perspective in the eThekwini Municipal area, describes the barriers that SMEs face when implementing environmental measures and provides a critical assessment of environmental responsibility in waste management supply chains. Case studies, where interviews and documentations were used as data collection methods, on waste management supply chains are provided. It is evident that there is a culture of outsourcing of the waste management function in the eThekwini municipal area and SMEs are an important component of the waste management value chain. However, environmental responsibility amongst the SMEs is poor as the SMEs response to supply chain or legislative pressure is weak. The bureaucracy of legal requirements of the waste sector, an ill-informed public and business sector regarding environmental issues, and the highly competitive nature of the waste sector are common obstacles experienced. In the face of difficulties such as limited resources, some SMEs are responding to legislative pressure and adopting the ISO 14001 certification. Many SMEs are responding to supply chain pressure in terms of the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act and participating in social responsibility activities. Findings from this research support the government’s vision of the creation of employment, the promotion of small business within the waste sector and the role that SMEs play in sustainable development in South Africa however; there is a need for strategies to address the environmental problems of small business.