The community of Thabazimbi and surrounding informal settlements have recently been introduced to an exciting new recycling project that helps them to keep their community clean while learning about the benefits of recycling their packaging waste, and earning a monetary reward. After a successful launch in Langa, Cape Town in 2017, the Packa-Ching recycling project has expanded with its fourth recycling unit in Thabazimbi, Limpopo.
The Packa-Ching recycling project is an innovative approach to increase the volume of recycling within informal settlements in South Africa. “After conducting the research, we realised that there is very little recycling infrastructure and very little awareness around the environmental and economic benefits of recycling packaging waste,” says Mandy Naudé, CEO of The Polyolefin Responsibility Organisation (Polyco), the founding organisation of Packa-Ching. “We would like to shift the behaviour with packaging waste to make people realise that it is an income generating opportunity. We want to show people that by recycling they can earn an income and end plastic waste in the environment at the same time.”
A typical Packa-Ching recycling unit consists of a recycling collection truck and trailer that parks at different collection points within each community for a few hours each week. Residents bring their sorted recyclables, have them weighed, and in return receive Kilorands, a monetary value, paid directly into their eWallet, which is available on a basic feature phone and does not require a smart phone. Residents can then spend their Kilorands at participating merchants. The entire operation is mobile, and therefore recycling becomes convenient for residents and enables the removal of waste from these communities without taking up permanent land space.
South Africa generates waste which has a significant resource value that could be accessed through reusing, repurposing and recycling waste material. It’s this economic value of the recycling waste stream that has sparked the interest of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Each Packa-Ching recycling unit is managed by an enthusiastic entrepreneur that has been tasked to scale up the recycling and waste management operations in each community.
“South Africa has unique social, economic and environmental conditions; and the Packa-Ching project has been created to benefit all three spheres. The Packa-Ching project offers the community members an additional income source, helps to change their behaviour towards used packaging and also helps to keep their community clean,” says Naudé. Since August 2017, the Langa Packa-Ching unit alone has diverted more than 335 tonnes of waste from landfill, while members in the Langa community have earned over R376 000 in exchange for their recyclables. This has been achieved by operating only two three hour collections per week. This community now also enjoy a much cleaner environment in which to live.
“The launch of the fourth unit in Thabazimbi is the next phase of the Packa-Ching project, with three other units already operating in Langa, Cape Town; Ivory Park, Johannesburg and Buffalo City, East London. We aim to roll out countrywide by calling on corporate support to help the project grow. We’d like to continue to empower entrepreneurs to help address South Africa’s recycling infrastructural challenges,” says Naudé.