Enterprising individuals and organisations across SA are rethinking the recyclability of packaging, educating and uplifting communities, and creating revenue streams among waste reclaimers and SMMEs to boost the circular economy and the environment.
From Paarl to Fisantekraal and Zebediela to KwaMhlanga, innovative South Africans are turning recyclable waste into revenue streams, uplifting communities and creating jobs.
Among the eco-warriors making a tangible impact on sustainability and the circular economy are 13 individuals and organisations who have been lauded for their environmental efforts by the national polyethylene terephthalate (PET) Extended Producer Responsibility body, PETCO.
Announcing this year’s winners of the annual PETCO Awards, chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz said these recycling champions had seen the environmental and economic value of post-consumer PET recycling.
“We are proud to celebrate these extraordinary people and organisations across the country for their contribution. Their success shows that PET plastic waste is not trash,” said Scholtz.
The category winners in this year’s recycling awards include a company turning traditionally unrecycled material into pallets made from 97% recycled PET (rPET), a reclaimer so determined to start a recycling business that he sold his car, and a Johannesburg resident who forged a unique resident-reclaimer recycling initiative.
2021 PETCO AWARDS CATEGORY WINNERS:
CATEGORY: Best Community Recycling Initiative
JOINT WINNERS: Belville Recycling and Trolley Project (Cape Town, Western Cape)
PETCO sees the training and mentorship of informal reclaimers as critical to improving working conditions and assisting waste entrepreneurs to grow and sustain their businesses, thereby stimulating economic growth, job creation and development in our country. The Belville Recycling and Trolley Project does this by facilitating access to recyclable waste and therefore a more predictable income, providing valuable economic and social services support, and access to training. This project’s value is that it supports businesses in reducing the amount of waste they send to landfills, recycling more and simultaneously helping the community.
The project is the brainchild of the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District (VRCID) and the Greater Tygerberg Partnership (GTP) in conjunction with social development company MES Cape Town. So far, 19 businesses in the Belville CBD are onboard.
“[Businesses] always used to look at us as [if we were] beggars, standing at the robot begging for money. With the trolley system, they respect us more. They can see that we’re decent people,” said Albert Samuels, a reclaimer involved in the initiative.