Recycling used billboards made from end of life PVC banners not only help keep thousands of homeless city dwellers warm and dry, but has now also received the recognition it deserves from South Africa’s plastic recycling fraternity by walking away with a Gold Award in the category “Novel and Artistic Products” during the South African Plastic Recyclers Organisation (SAPRO) Best Recycled Product of the Year Awards held in Johannesburg recently.
“Street Sleeper is a Cape Town based initiative that uses innovation to tackle the social and environmental challenges facing the homeless community. We upcycle PVC advertising billboards destined for landfill into survival sleeping bags,” explains Oliver Bain, the founder of Street Sleeper.
Since 2014, Oliver and his team has made more than 8 000 sleeping bags (1 500 last year alone). Each bag uses 4sqm of end of life PVC banners thereby upcycling more than 32 000sqm (or 13 tons) of PVC billboards. Bags are distributed through feeding centres, like-minded businesses and volunteers who wish to actively engage with their homeless neighbours.
SAPRO Chairman, Rudi Johannes, highlighted that the empathetic nature of the product and the volumes of goodwill left the panel of judges suitably impressed. Delanie Bezuidenhout, CEO of the Southern African Vinyls Association (SAVA), accepted the Gold Award on behalf of Oliver and his Street Sleeper team. Delanie emphasized that the Street Sleeper project is deserving of this accolade and that SAVA is honored to be a proud supporter of this project that transforms the negative impact of waste into immediate relief for those living on the street whilst at the same time promoting social upliftment through dialogue and storytelling.
“We are thrilled to have won the Gold Award as our business is all about innovation. We are always looking for different ways of tackling challenges and being recognised by the recycling industry and judges in this category is not only a huge honour, but also fits well with how we go about running our social business. Whilst it is always a pleasure to be recognised for work that is done, the manufacturing of the bags is only a small part of our story. We would be amiss if we did not recognise and thank all the volunteers, donors, corporate supporters and employees who are involved with Street Sleeper and enable us to do what we love,” Oliver concluded.