The Packa-Ching recycling project, launched in Cape Town in 2017, is transforming the South African environment – and transforming the lives of community members partaking in this innovative recycling initiative. Not only is waste being recycled and disposed of efficiently – community members are earning financial rewards for their recycling efforts.
Going from strength to strength, the Packa-Ching recycling project has just expanded by launching its fourth recycling unit in Thabazimbi, Limpopo. With three other units already operating in Langa, Cape Town; Ivory Park, Johannesburg and Buffalo City, East London, the Packa-Ching project’s objective is to educate communities about keeping their environment clean.
It also aims to share information about the benefits of recycling their packaging waste – and enabling them to earn some monetary rewards for recycling. Through its efforts, the Packa-Ching project is spearheading a fundamental shift in how South Africans recycle waste. They are achieving results by encouraging a change in behaviour on both social and environmental levels.
Mandy Naudé, CEO of The Polyolefin Responsibility Organisation (Polyco), which founded the Packa-Ching project, says that after conducting initial research, they realised that there is very little recycling infrastructure. There is also very little awareness regarding the environmental and economic benefits of recycling packaging waste among local communities.
“Our aim is to create a mind shift, and change consumer behaviour as it relates to packaging waste. We want to do this in order to make people realise that waste recycling can be an income-generating opportunity. We want to show people that by recycling waste, they can earn an income – and end the devastating impact of plastic waste pollution in the environment at the same time,” says Naudé.
Educating and uplifting while reducing waste
“South Africa has unique social, economic and environmental conditions; and the Packa-Ching project was created to benefit all three aspects,” says Naudé. “Packa-Ching offers community members an extra source of income, assists in changing their behaviour towards used packaging materials and also helps to keep communities clean,” she adds.
The Packa-Ching project endeavours to increase recycling efforts in both informal settlements, as well as lower-income areas all over South Africa. The aim is to tap into a new market of recyclable packaging material, in order to minimise the amount of packaging waste ending up in South Africa’s landfills. By offering a monetary incentive to encourage a change in behaviour, as well as shifting people’s perception of recyclable waste, Packa-Ching is cleaning up the environment while empowering and uplifting communities where the project is active.
A mobile collection unit that visits once a week
A standard Packa-Ching recycling unit consists of a recycling collection truck and trailer that visits different collection points within communities for a few hours every week. Community members bring their sorted recyclable waste items to this collection point, where they are weighed. In return, they receive Kilorands – a monetary value that is paid directly into their e-wallet. This e-wallet is available on any basic-feature phone and does not require a smartphone.
Community members can then spend their Kilorands at participating merchants. Through the Packa-Ching project, recycling becomes far more convenient for residents, as the entire operation is mobile. It makes possible the removal of waste from their communities, without occupying permanent land space.
“The launch of the fourth unit in Thabazimbi is the next phase of the Packa-Ching project. We aim to roll out countrywide by calling on corporate support to help the project expand. We’d like to continue to empower entrepreneurs to help address South Africa’s recycling infrastructural challenges,” says Naudé.
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