Every year the Ecologic Awards recognises the businesses, people and communities that are at the forefront of sustainability and driving change for a better future. Packa-Ching, an innovative community recycling collection initiative, started by Polyco and sponsored by Shoprite and Sasol, has won the ‘Recycling and Circular Economy’ category at this year’s Ecologic Awards.

“We are delighted to receive the news that Packa-Ching won the award for the Recycling and Circular Economy category,” says Megan Swart, Operations Manager at Packa-Ching. “This achievement is a result of the hard work and collaboration between our partners who drive our recycling collection units and the community members who commit to recycling their waste.”

The Ecologic Awards, hosted by Enviropedia every year, is a prestigious event on the green calendar that invites people and businesses to enter their product or service that is contributing towards a sustainable future. Each category is judged by experienced and highly respected judges that work within various sustainability related sectors. The ‘Recycling and Circular Economy’ category recognises a policy, programme, product, service or technology that significantly reduces waste volumes and facilitates a circular economy through re-use, recycling or upcycling.

Packa-Ching uses a model that makes recycling easy and rewarding for communities in South Africa. Each recycling unit is managed by an enterprise owner who is tasked with scaling up recycling collection in the community in which they operate. Community residents exchange their recyclables for Kilorands, paid directly on to their cellphones that they can then use at selected outlets. This teaches communities that their waste has value.

To date, Packa-Ching has collected over 3.8 million kilograms of recyclable waste and paid out over R3 million to community residents, servicing 79 communities and schools across South Africa.

Recognising the positive impact of Packa-Ching, Polyoak, a packaging company and member of Polyco, formally nominated the initiative for the Awards. “Given the environmental and social benefits of Packa-Ching, we felt that this initiative had a good chance of winning the award. It is an innovative model that makes recycling accessible to more people and has rolled out widespread awareness campaigns in communities and schools to teach people about the benefits of recycling,” says Michelle Penlington, National Executive: Marketing and Sustainability at Polyoak.

“We are hoping that this achievement at this year’s Ecologic Awards will draw more attention to the benefits of recycling so that collectively we can divert more waste from landfill,” says Swart. “With Packa-Ching our goal is for residents to see waste not as ‘litter’, but rather as an opportunity to make extra income while keeping their community clean as a result.”

Also as a result of the Packa-Ching mobile units’ success, Packa-Ching and Shoprite are this week launching a new ‘Pop-Up’ static unit at the Mall of Thembisa, with the vision of making recycling more accessible to more South Africans across the country.

To follow the development of the Packa-Ching project visit www.packaching.co.za. To find out more about Polyco, the driving force behind Packa-Ching, visit their website www.polyco.co.za