Project Hlwekisa will establish a sustainable green economy at community level

Durban recycling project to convert rubbish to Rands

Residents of the Quarry Road West informal settlement in Durban will be converting rubbish to Rands with the launch of a recycling project led by Coca-Cola Beverages SA (CCBSA).

Dubbed Project Hlwekisa, which means “to clean” in seSotho, the initiative will establish a sustainable green economy at community level, drawing in residents as waste collectors, while keeping the Umgeni River and its lagoon waste free.

It is the result of a partnership between CCBSA, Durban Green Corridor and Trashback, who set out in May to design a system that would enable Quarry Road West residents to participate in the waste management of their area and the local recycling economy.

While most middle-class suburbs enjoy the benefits of regular refuse collection and access to recycling opportunities, many peri-urban and informal settlements do not, leading to dumping in and near rivers and the burning of waste.

Researchers and waste specialists from Trashback studied the feasibility of creating a green economy for the informal communities and waste pickers of the Umgeni Business Park Corridor over two months and found that large amounts of plastic and waste that end up in the Umgeni River lagoon – and eventually in the ocean – came from the Palmiet River.

This was due to the lack of waste management systems, infrastructure, resources and recycling knowledge in the Quarry Road West and Silver Pipes communities, which are on the banks of the Palmiet River.

The project partners decided to focus on the cleaning of the river and ensuring it remains waste and plastic free by involving members of the community in waste collection and as beneficiaries of the green economy.

At the same time, the plan is to build community awareness about pollution and the value of waste, changing behaviour for the long-term.

It will grow the education, skills and recycling capacity of the community to the point where it is self-sustaining and can manage its own waste-management structures, creating a model for other communities in the area to follow.

“We hope to inspire other communities to follow the Quarry Road West example so that the whole Durban area develops a sustainable green economy to become waste free,” says Tsholofelo Mqhayi, Head: Enterprise and Community Development at CCBSA.

“We have set ourselves an ambitious target as a company to make all our packaging recyclable by 2025 and to achieve a 100% recycling rate by 2030,” she says.

The intention is to build a sustainable system for reusable materials and spur communities into recycling action, encouraging more people to recycle more often and ultimately create a waste-free South Africa.

“We are setting a new global standard, using more recycled content in our manufacturing processes – reducing the amount of plastic in our bottles and using plant-based resins in some of our bottles.

“Project Hlwekisa is another great example of our commitment to finding innovative ways to take responsibility for our post-consumer waste while contributing to the development of communities, and we look forward to more partnerships like this in future,” says Mqhayi.

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