PORT ELIZABETH – JOB creation, innovation and poverty alleviation are just some of the major achievements by several Nelson Mandela Bay recycling initiatives, making a tangible difference at a grassroots level in communities.
This is being celebrated by the PET Recycling Company (PETCO), the national recycling body for PET plastics, in the form of an “inspiration session” to be held in the Bay on November 21 (5-7pm). The two-hour event will honour several recycling initiatives in the city that are making strides not only in PET plastic recycling but also in uplifting communities.
PETCO is encouraging members of the public to attend the event to learn more about the unique and life-changing initiatives taking place throughout the city.
“There are many incredible things happening on a daily basis in the recycling industry in South Africa, which are driven by a remarkable network of people,” said PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz.
“These people deserve to be recognised and celebrated as innovative entrepreneurs, employers, and champions in their own right, who do good for the environment and their communities through the work they do in the recycling industry.”
Scholtz said the PETCO Inspiration Sessions were intended as a public platform for the organisation’s partners to share how they were working towards transforming the recycling sector.
“We encourage the public to attend and hear from people who are passionate about PET recycling and its potential to change lives. You are guaranteed to look at it with new eyes – either as a consumer or as a would-be entrepreneur in the field.”
Included in the line-up of speakers are Dr Tony Ribbink of the African Marine Waste Network, the Uitenhage Recycling Mula Swop-Shop’s Quinette Goosen, and Cannibal Recycling’s Leon van der Watt.
Anyone interested in attending the event at Chicky’s Yard in Ellis Street, Baakens Valley, can RSVP by emailing PETCO at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets cost R100 per person and include catering.
African Marine Waste Network – Dr Tony Ribbink
Launching the evening’s programme will be PE-based environmental scientist Dr Tony Ribbink, who will be speaking on the topic of “Zero Plastics to the Seas of South Africa” and the plan to make the Bay the cleanest city in South Africa by 2021.
“The world, and especially the African continent, is extremely polluted,” said Ribbink.
“There is most definitely a way forward, but only by combining a number of factors including research using satellites, manned aircraft and drones, education on a very broad scale – including getting pollution onto the school curriculum – and, vitally, youth networks.”
With a change in behaviour, which had already begun, anything was possible, said Ribbink.
Uitenhage Recycling Mula Swop-Shop Project – Quinette Goosen
“The Uitenhage Recycling Mula Swop-Shop Project is a community project which addresses disadvantaged communities on a humanitarian, environmental, social and educational level,” said Goosen.
“The project works on an exchange concept. Young children are encouraged to bring in recyclable items which are weighed and then converted into points or credits which we call ‘mulas’.
Goosen said these credits could be exchanged for food, toiletries, clothes, stationery or toys. Before going home, the child is also provided with a light meal.
“Our project has two main aims – to clean up the environment and to alleviate poverty, both of which we believe we are achieving.
“The surroundings are visibly cleaner and some households can now survive from one mula day to the next. We serve meals to between 250 and 350 children per mula day. That is also the number of households we have an impact on.”
Goosen said it was important to teach children to take responsibility for their environment and to respect the fact that future generations were also entitled to a healthy world.
In the three years of operating, more than 63,000kg of plastic and 25,000kg of cardboard have been removed from the communities. On average 4,000kg of plastic and 1,025kg of cardboard are removed each month.
Cannibal Recycling – Leon van der Watt
Cannibal Recycling started in 2003 as a small family business, growing from glass recycling into a multi-recycling facility for products like PET, cardboard, low-density polyethylene, cans and paper.
“In Port Elizabeth, we supply an income to entrepreneurs from rural areas, mainly the unemployed and people living off government grants,” explained Van der Watt.
“We also assist individuals who simply cannot survive in these expensive times, by getting them involved in recycling projects.”
Van der Watt said this included assisting independent waste pickers, smaller projects and entrepreneurs with recycling information, training, purchasing of recycling material, machinery and logistics.
They also have the second depot in Komani (Queenstown) and support a children’s project in Somerset East.