Success for Tshwane’s first separation-at-source project



Published May 26, 2024


A partnership between the City of Tshwane and Petco has yielded results by encouraging change in human behaviour, resulting in people not dumping their trash in an open field.

According to Petco, the S@S project had helped entice the public to recycle and extract quality recyclables right where they are disposed, and divert them from landfill.

It has also proven that public-private partnerships of this kind can create economic opportunities for service providers in the collection and recycling value chain.

Since February this year, visitors to Tshwane’s popular Fountains Valley Resort have been greeted by 12 large colour coded and labelled recycling bins - part of the city’s first separation-at-source recycling campaign in a public space.

According to Petco, “Resort visitors simply drop their empty aluminium cans, plastic, paper, and glass packaging waste from the food and beverages they consume into the appropriate recycling bins”.

Tlou Sebola, Petco regional recycling manager for collections and training projects, said the primary objective of the initiative was to instigate a shift in human behaviour.

“We anticipate that the habit of separating recyclables, cultivated at the resort, will extend beyond its premises and be embraced in homes and workplaces as well.

“Not only are the S@S bins encouraging resort visitors to recycle, but they are also achieving other crucial goals.

“These include diverting recyclable waste from the city’s landfills, as well as improving the quality of the recyclable materials which are separated out – since they don’t get contaminated by the non-recyclable, mostly organic, residual waste,” Sebola explained.

He added that sorting the recyclable materials also helped waste pickers, who received better payment for collecting cleaner materials.

Sebola and her team at Petco have also been holding education and training workshops with the Fountains Valley Resort staff, to ensure the S@S project – one of a number that Petco is rolling out with its partners nationwide – is well managed.

At the launch of the project in mid-April, councillor Ziyanda Zwane said that the City of Tshwane was running out of landfill space at its four main landfill sites, adding that, “It is of crucial importance that we separate our waste so that we enhance our recycling efforts.”

“We are looking forward to rolling this out to every corner of the city, to ensure we minimise the waste that is going to our landfills,” said Zwane.

City Parks noted at the launch event that much of the waste generated at the city’s resorts was recyclable.

They added that prior to the project, waste pickers had to sort through general waste in search of valuable recyclable packaging, which by that stage was contaminated by food waste.

Sebola said the 12 large recycling bins dotted around the Fountains Valley Resort were made from materials that many would consider waste.

“The bins were primarily made from poly-aluminium – a mixture of plastic and aluminium pellets – extracted from recycled liquid board cartons which were used to package fruit juice, milk and custard,” said Sebola.

Meanwhile, Petco CEO Cheri Scholtz said the need to separate at source in South Africa was a matter of urgency.

Scholtz said that in future separation at source was also going to become increasingly important as the project grew and developed increased recycled content for inclusion back into packaging, as it had done for PET bottles.

She said the company had launched multiple S@S projects around the country, in partnership with entities such as municipalities and schools.

"We cannot wait until waste goes to our landfills before we start sorting out what can be recycled. When you have to retrieve recyclable materials from landfills the materials are dirty, contaminated, and have a lower quality and less value.

“When we sort out recyclable materials from non-recyclable materials at our homes or places of work, we are separating at the source.”

She added: “Retrieving them from landfills, once they are dirty and contaminated, is separating outside the source, and that is not a path we can continue on if we are to build a sustainable future."

Saturday Star

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