PETCO, in collaboration with PRASA and The City of Johannesburg organized a ground breaking workshop which brought together entrepreneurs who would change the face of recycling in the Gauteng region. This collaboration also joined forces with key role players in industry to provide a 5-day entrepreneurial training workshop for a hundred people who are passionate about recycling.
In an opening address at the Danie van Zyl Recreation Centre on Tuesday, 4 September, Roelf de Beer, Project Manager of Pikitup, said he hoped that the workshop would help create entrepreneurs who would operate in conducive and social environments which would create jobs and enhance development in the recycling industry. Through PETCO’s initiatives, and that of the industry, 23 000- 26 000 income opportunities have been created in this sector at present with more than 400 plastic recovery stations throughout South Africa established.
The workshop was attended by members of 3 different cooperatives in the Gauteng region, namely; Zondi Buy-Back Centre, Reashoma Cooperative and Diepsloot Buy-Back Centre. Representatives from the recycling industry noted the importance everyone in attendance would need to play in preserving natural resources and reducing the demand for scarce landfill space.
PETCO Category B Manager, Belinda Booker engaged the audience with her experiential learning approach, involving the use of samples and an interactive presentation on PET. The Story of PET (see below) took members on a virtual tour of some of the biggest recycling plants in the country telling the story of how plastic bottles get recycled after consumption into valuable products such as rPET fabric, geotextiles and packaging.
Mrs Booker focussed on attendees’ role in conserving resources and as advocates of sustainable behaviour adding that each had a role to play in preserving the environment for future generations.
Lynda Prinsloo, an independent skills development specialist, who facilitated the training workshop, encouraged interactivity, team-building and group work. The 5-day workshop was essentially focused on PET, paper, glass and Tetra Pak collection and recycling.
Lynda also provided training on basic concepts in entrepreneurship and small business development. One of the core focus areas of the workshop included identifying current trends in industry, problems, opportunities and assisting the cooperatives to identify the best ways in which they could obtain maximum profits when selling their recyclable material.
“Passion and dedication will result in financial viability” said Henry Selepe, Regional Manager of Collect-a-can. Members were also encouraged to take initiative, according to Selepe, some people use horse carriages to deliver cans at various drop-off sites, “this is a clear indication that transport should not be an issue” said Selepe.
environmental protection key to success
Rodney Reynders, Environment Cluster Leader, Sub-Sahara Africa at Tetra Pak encouraged the collection of different recyclable material thus maximising opportunities for return and not being limited to one waste stream. “Success in business is more than just achieving financial goals, it is also about sustainable growth and protecting the environment” he said.
Certificates were awarded to 87 members of the different cooperatives who successfully completed the workshop on Friday, 7 September.
PETCO played a vital role in ensuring that members of the different cooperatives would receive the best prices for their PET material, “We will ensure that you are connected with our contracted recyclers” said Ms Booker on Monday, 10 September.
The City of Johannesburg and Pikitup joined the group for a site tour, the main objective of the visit was to see and improve current operational aspects and challenges at the different sites. Leaders in industry also gave advice on how the recycling centres could be sustainable and financially viable.
The ladies at Zondi Buy-Back centre were all smiles when they saw PETCO’s return to gauge their progress. According to the Site Manager, Bongani Mzantsi, the cooperative provides services to Zondi and 29 surrounding townships. The cooperative has 7 members and 24 employees.
Success and sustainability of an operation is all about feedback loops. Accordingly, Ursula Henneberry, Operations Director at PRASA urged members to collaborate with other cooperatives as well as keep in contact with PRASA, PETCO et al regarding future needs for training and support.
‘we are working’
Reashoma which means “we are working” is a name which has been given a lot of justice by the Reashoma cooperative which is based in Naledi. The team operates their site with no water and electricity. This is another perfect example of how limited resources should not be a discouraging factor in running any business.
The last site visit of the day was at the Diepsloot buy-back centre. This site was funded by the Pretoria Portland Cement Company Limited (PPC) as an IDP project for the Johannesburg City Metro municipality, and will be operated by the City of Johannesburg. Bontle ke tlhago is the cooperative which has been assigned to the site and the 8 members will service 15 000 households in Diepsloot and surrounding areas. The City of Johannesburg is currently planning the official launch in conjunction with PPC.
PETCO looks forward to empowering members of the different cooperatives through our Category B projects which have a strong focus on public and consumer-based education, and our awareness programmes that contribute to the visible recycling of PET. The City of Johannesburg and Pikitup are also committed to the partnership to offer continuous mentorship and training programmes.