Most rural and semi urban areas in South Africa face challenges when it comes to implementing waste management and recycling strategies.
These challenges include:
- Inadequate waste volumes generated to sustain recycling initiatives in small rural villages
- A lack of accessible markets for rural areas to sell their waste
- Poor municipal service delivery leading to waste not being collected in rural areas
- A lack of commercially viable and environmentally sustainable recycling projects to address environmental problems in rural areas
- Pollution through waste burning, dumping and litter
- The clogging and degradation of wet lands
PETCO has partnered with the PEACE Foundation to improve the working conditions and better equip the ladies of the Senwarbarwana Recycling Project in Polokwane who sustain a living from the collection and sale of recyclables. The recycling project is operated by Thinana Recycling And Waste Management Primary Co-operative Limited comprising five women.
“Crucial to the success of our visible recycling initiatives is the provision of necessary equipment and support to our project beneficiaries” says Cheri Scholtz, CEO of PETCO.
Reclaimed material often stolen at site
She added that when the PETCO team met the ladies in October 2011, they were operating on an unfenced landfill site illegally burning waste to enable them to easily pick out cans for recycling. Their reclaimed material was often stolen at the site, so they resorted to dragging their bulk bags full of burnt cans home for safekeeping every evening.
PETCO saw an opportunity for the ladies to cease the harmful practice of burning waste, and to diversify the range of materials, particularly PET bottles, recovered for recycling; and also committed to assist them to transport their collected material to their homes through the provision of trolleys. They have since equipped the cooperative with a manual baler, protective clothing and facilitated training, conducted by Fanus Beytel of Anti Waste, another PETCO collection partner in the region.
The PEACE foundation stepped in and assisted with technical support, funding and the construction of a covered, serviced recycling centre adjacent to the landfill site, dubbed the Senwarbarwana Recycling Project – which officially opened doors in February 2014. Not only did the ladies of Thinana see their centre’s doors open, but numerous other doors of opportunity also opened, and they now work together with a local company, Newronment, who buy material from them at higher prices, their collection volumes have increased, they service a larger area and an additional seven jobs have been created, through their baling and collection operations.
To increase waste volumes and extend the collection area, as well as create more jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, donkey carts supplied and run by the Tiang Maatla Cooperative are now used to collect waste. The link has been made, giving economic value to the donkey cart operators, negating the need for collection trucks, with a knock on effect for the environment, operators and donkeys themselves which have been mistreated.
“We are optimistic about the growth of our cooperative” say the ladies of Thinana Cooperative.
The Senwarbarwana Recycling Project is spreading its reach and the Thinana Cooperative is in negotiations with the All Days Municipality some 80km away to start collection in the area. The Municipality has committed to transport the material free of charge to their transfer site which is already a benefit as transportation costs often cripple a collection business. Thinana have started training people in the All Days area empowering them as collectors.
“We are encouraged about the potential of this project”, says Scholtz “and value the linkages formed, empowering and mobilising the community to maximise the socio-economic benefits recycling offers” she concluded.
PETCO is planning the official Launch of Senwabarwana project and others in the Polokwane on 3 July.