“Why recycle? Why not?”

“Why recycle? Why not?” In the South African context, recycling is still in its infancy and needs to be further developed.

Emphasis is therefore placed on promoting recycling of waste through the creation of an enabling environment for industry to develop processing facilities as well as educating and assisting other role players, especially the youth to also facilitate recycling.

Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa’s (CCBSA) Schools Recycling Programme (SRP) is one such business-community partnership initiative at the forefront of supporting local schools to equip learners with the skills to minimise waste and understand the value and importance of sustainable living.

“Recycling and schools make a practically perfect partnership. A school recycling programme provides a learning experience for everyone involved,” explains Tsholofelo Mqhayi, Head: Enterprise and Community Development at CCBSA.

Mqhayi adds that by recycling at school, students, teachers, staff, administrators, and parents can learn not only the basics of recycling but of sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Learners with plastic bags ready for some recycling.

Now in its seventh year, the SRP has opened a golden opportunity for environmental change within young children of school-going age. It has laid a blank canvas on which learners can learn about the value of waste management and recycling.

“Schools have an important role to play in preparing and empowering learners to take responsibility for creating and enjoying a sustainable future,” notes Mqhayi.

“Through hands-on and locally-centred actions, learners begin to understand complex sustainability issues. Using knowledge, critical thinking skills and values, they are developing the capacity to participate in decision-making about environmental and development issues.”

More than just a recycling programme, the initiative is self-sustaining and reflects the realities of the collection lifecycle as well as rewarding those that assist in addressing the issue of waste management.

Like in previous years, the schools that participate have to commit to collecting a minimum of 1 000kg of total waste per month, of which 30% must be Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET).

Schools that collect two tons or more stand in line to win prizes as well as the revenue that they generate from selling the waste. That being said, CCBSA has added another layer to the SRP.

CCBSA has seen remarkable developments in the waste disposal space and much of that can be attributed to the over 500 000 learners who have made this programme what it is today.

Thirty-five schools recycling representatives have been employed to assist with the day to day running of the programme. These consist of out of school youth between the ages of 18 – 24.

“Around the world today, young people are shaping social as well as economic development and building the foundation of the world’s future. As CCBSA, we are encouraged to keep supporting those who are at the heart of moving the country forward – who cannot be left behind – particularly when an opportunity is available to facilitate such a development.,” concludes Mqhayi.

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Themba Vukeya

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