A novel approach to eco-friendly service delivery in the community of Mapleton is encouraging recycling, growing entrepreneurs and providing a lifeline for many.
PETCO have been instrumental in establishing and contributing to the long term viability of the Phumula Buy-Back Centre in Mapleton, Gauteng. The Buy-Back Centre, which is combined with a Coca-Cola Southern Africa Eco-Centre facility, supports local collectors as a sales outlet for their plastic recyclables and encourages children to bring in PET bottles in order to access a safe playground and facilities at the Eco-Centre or to exchange them for tokens, which can be used to buy stationary and snacks at the shop.
Cheri Scholtz, CEO of PETCO explains that the combination of a Buy-Back and Eco-Centre is working well and that this extension from the traditional buy-back centre model is creating value for the community in an eco-friendly manner.
“The Buy-Back Centre currently supports over 200 informal collectors and number of intermediate collectors- who bring recyclable plastics, including PET and HD to the centre for sale. The number of community members that support and make use of the facility is also increasing daily, which is encouraging” she says.
Phumula Buy-Back Centre to receive ongoing monitoring and mentorship
Having provided a horizontal baler and a shipping container (which is used as an office space) to the centre a year ago, PETCO will continue to support the Phumula Buy-Back Centre with ongoing monitoring and mentorship. The Buy-Back Centre has been able to increase the tonnage of PET collected consistently and has grown its yield from 11 to 28 tonnes a month, thus increasing their payloads for transport of the material to the re-processors –which goes a long way to ensure the viability of the project for the benefit of the community.
PETCO recently trained 32 Project Coordinators who have been recruited to embark on a door-to-door awareness raising campaign to promote recycling and encourage households to separate their recyclables, in a newly established kerbside collection project for 4500 households in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria. The City of Tshwane’s Environmental Management: Community Outreach and Stakeholder Programme have launched the program in collaboration with the Extended Public Works Programme.
Challenge is unintentional mixing of recyclables and general waste
The collaboration between the City of Tshwane, PETCO and other industry role-players is crucial to ensure the long term success of the project and PETCO has committed to working with the City to address challenges faced as the program rolls out.
Some of the challenges include the unintentional mixing of recyclables and general waste in collection trucks, the expectation that households will be paid for their recyclables, and most importantly, preventing irresponsible disposal practices, littering and burning of waste by the community members.