18th March is Global Recycling Day and there is cause to celebrate as Packa-Ching launches more units across South Africa and initiates a schools awareness campaign. The growth of Packa-Ching comes at an important time as it offers a much-needed solution to South Africa’s growing waste challenge, while stimulating the country’s entrepreneurial landscape. Packa-Ching is an owner-operated mobile separation-at-source recycling service that purchases recyclable used packaging material from the public in low income and informal areas. To date, Packa-Ching has collected over 1 035 000kg of recyclable material and paid out over R790 000 to community members. Packa-Ching units are currently operating in Cape Town, Western Cape; Thabazimbi, Limpopo; Buffalo City, Eastern Cape; and the latest unit was recently launched in Katlehong, Gauteng. Six more Packa-Ching units will be launched across South Africa in 2020.
“The Packa-Ching operational model was designed with the entrepreneur in mind,” says Mandy Naudé, CEO of The Polyolefin Responsibility Organisation (Polyco), the founding organisation of Packa-Ching. “Each Packa-Ching unit consists of a truck and trailer that is operated by local entrepreneurs. These units purchase used recyclable packaging material from community members in exchange for a monetary value that is paid instantly via a cashless eWallet system.”
Packa-Ching has been able to expand its operations across South Africa through Shoprite’s support of the Packa-Ching entrepreneurs. “Through its long-term partnership with Packa-Ching, Shoprite continues to reduce the amount of recyclable waste going to landfills, whilst creating income-generating opportunities for communities across South Africa. Our business has a zero waste-to-landfill approach and is committed to reducing waste in its operations, including changing consumer behaviour. Given that many South Africans do not recycle and due to the country’s high unemployment rate, we are playing our part in addressing these challenges by supporting the national roll out of Packa-Ching, which incentivises individuals to recycle.” Says Sanjeev Raghubir, Shoprite’s Group Sustainability Manager.
“The aim of Packa-Ching is to access new sources of recyclable material from areas that do not currently recycle used packaging materials, and by doing so, decrease the amount of recyclable waste entering landfills,” says Megan Swart, Packa-Ching Co-ordinator, Polyco. “At the same time; the initiative contributes to poverty alleviation by offering an income-earning opportunity to individuals and schools in these communities – as used packaging materials have value.”
Former waste picker in Katlehong and current owner of K1 Recycling, Tshepo Mazibuko, welcomed Packa-Ching as a central part of his business in January 2020, “When I heard about the Packa-Ching initiative, it dawned on me that recycling is just a small part of the solution. Our biggest challenge and solution to the waste lying everywhere in our townships is educating consumers about the importance of separating waste at the source and the best way to interest them is to reward them.”
To educate learners about the environmental and economic value of recycling, Polyco recently piloted the Packa-Ching schools educational initiative in two schools in Langa, Cape Town. Pupils and teachers of Thembani and Siyabulela Primary Schools competed against each other to see who could collect the highest volume of recyclable material. In return, both schools received the monetary value of the recyclables collected as well as prizes sponsored by Polyco and Shoprite. The two schools collected over 3 200 kilograms of recyclable packaging in just one month and earned collectively over R3 600 from their recyclables.
“We are so proud of both schools and would like to thank Ms Joyce Ngezana (Principal of Thembani Primary School), Mr Masixole Guzana (Principal of Siyabulela Primary School) as well as all the teachers who were passionate about the programme and motivated the students,” says Naudé.
Off the success of the schools pilot, Polyco has developed an awareness campaign which can be rolled out with each new Packa-Ching launch. “Packa-Ching will be launching six new units in 2020 and we are calling on brand owners to support an awareness drive about recycling in these communities,” says Naudé. “We have initiated a brand sponsorship campaign where companies will have the opportunity to sponsor a launch event and a schools recycling campaign in the community where each new Packa-Ching unit launches.”
Packa-Ching offers a great corporate social investment (CSI) and enterprise development opportunity; to invest both in a cleaner environment, a developing entrepreneur and recycling awareness in informal communities.