When thousands of cyclists and spectators take to the streets to participate in the annual Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour this weekend, very few people will spare a thought for the dedicated and hardworking team of waste pickers and collectors who are working quietly and often unseen to ensure the litter discarded along the route is picked up and recycled.
Each year, however, a dedicated team of litter busters who are employed and trained by Plastics|SA, from the nearby Ocean View and Masiphumelele township near Kommetjie, take charge of the post-event clean-up operations to ensure that no litter or waste is left behind on the streets after the race and that the waste generated at the event is recycled.
This strategy, known as event greening, is about making socially and environmentally responsible decisions when organising or participating in an event and contributes to a cleaner and greener South Africa.
“Thanks to the collective effort between the organizers and the service providers, we have fine-tuned our strategy of collecting and recycling the litter on the day, making the race one of the most environmentally friendly sporting events in the world”, says John Kieser, Sustainability Manager for Plastics|SA and coordinator of the cleaning crews.
Working closely with race organizers and waste management partners such as WastePlan, the Rotary Clubs of Oostenburg and Strand, and the City of Cape Town, Plastics|SA has been able to consistently exceed expectations when it comes to the collection and recycling of the waste discarded during the various races that form part of the annual highlight on the cycling calendar.
“In previous years, we have collected on average 12 000 kilograms of waste during the race, or which we were able to send an impressive 9 730 kilograms (82 %) for recycling. This year, we will aim to even improve on this figure as part of our “Zero plastics to landfill” strategy,” Kieser says.
Because a large section of the 109km route actually takes place in a national park, and any litter left to the elements could have a devastating effect on our wildlife. To this end, the organisers of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour are also constantly trying to find new ways to ensure the event remains one that is sustainable and eco-friendly.
“This year, they have launched a “Stash Your Trash” campaign, which will encourage cyclists not to throw their empty gel sachets, wrappers and other litter on the road, but to rather hold on to it so they can dispose of it in the designated bins at the next refreshment station,” Kieser says (pictured left),
Once the intrepid team of waste collectors, wearing their bright yellow t-shirts, have gathered all the garbage along the route, it will be trucked to the Kraaifontein Material Recover Facility (MRF) where waste management company WastePlan is responsible for the sorting and the recycling of the waste. “On the Monday following the event, we will do one final drive along the route to make sure the clean-up crews have snapped up every last bit of rubbish,” Kieser explains.
“As a charitable organisation, we are committed to ensuring that our actions cause no harm. In an area as stunning as the Cape Peninsula, it is critical for us to make sure that the success of our event does not come at the expense of the natural beauty that surrounds us,” concludes Renee Jordaan, operations director of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust.