In 2004, stakeholders tabled a wish list with the former Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, who had allocated a substantial amount of funds for the construction of a Botanical Garden and an Environmental Awareness Centre in the Limpopo Province.
The first sod of soil was turned back then, and now, years later, after a few stoppages in construction and the commitment of further funding by the Department of Environmental Affairs, the Science Education Building has been officially completed and has been handed over to the University of Limpopo. The “Science Education Centre”, or “The Centre” as it is fondly named, will serve to promote education, conservation and research among the provincial community and beyond.
A hub for role players
Aside from driving biodiversity conservation in SADC, the Centre will also serve as a Hub to bring various role players together to be part of the initiatives. Thus, it will facilitate community development, job creation and research opportunities. It will also stimulate financial support and facilitate the development of staff and students of the University of Limpopo.
The Centre strives to be the University’s premier avenue for community outreach in Limpopo. Located at the University of Limpopo’s Turfloop Campus, the Centre plans to consolidate existing running units of the University, namely the Herbarium, a section of the Animal unit (called the Animal Park), the Science Centre and Fablab.
Minimizing our environmental impact
The Centre will also house permanent exhibition stands, one of which has been allocated to PETCO. PETCO, as an organisation, aims to minimize the environmental impact of post-consumer PET on the South African landscape by achieving sustainable growth in Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) plastic recycling; supporting existing and encouraging new PET collection and recycling networks; and promoting consumer education and awareness programmes.
“The Centre is a fantastic initiative and our permanent exhibition is a fitting avenue to demonstrate our commitment to sustainable development and to government policies of waste management, minimization and recycling” says Cheri Scholtz, CEO of PETCO. “PETCO sees this as a wonderful opportunity to promote the mission of the centre, and support community education, conservation and research” added Scholtz.
The PETCO exhibition will showcase how post-consumer PET bottles (those collected after use, that would normally have gone to landfill) are recycled and reduced to recycled PET (rPET) pellets. These pellets are supplied to end-users for production of a number of items including fibre for polyester carpets, fabric for T-shirts and bags, fibrefill for sleeping bags, pillows and coats, geotextiles and a newly emerging sector for bottle-2-bottle.
Education and innovation are key
“As one of our aims is to promote and improve the recycling of post-consumer-use PET plastic on behalf of all stakeholders in the South African PET industry, PETCO sees education as key, together with innovation in the product development arena to encourage the use of rPET content, thus unlocking demand for the material” says Scholtz. “The youth are the future and we feel it’s our responsibility to educate, as well as challenge, in the arena of thought leadership,” she added.
The Centre, which was opened by Deputy Minister of the Department of Water and
Environmental Affairs, Hon. Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi and the Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Limpopo University, Prof NM Mokgalong, supports government’s mandate to increase quality participation in the sciences and support conservation.
Limpopo recently saw over R11.4 million being handed over to the Mopani District Municipality by Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, for the development of the Mopani Waste Recycling and Buy Back Centre in Maruleng, Limpopo. The Department of Environmental Affairs, through its Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme (EPIP), is funding the implementation of the project. They will be using labour intensive methods as per the requirements of Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).