The Amalgamated Beverage Industries (ABI) Schools Recycling Programme has rewarded primary school pupils for collecting recyclable waste. Their efforts have helped to cut the effects of pollution countrywide.
Aimed at changing the mindsets of children, who are to inherit South Africa, the recycling programme awarded learners from Ekuthuleni Primary School in Ntuzuma in KwaZulu-Natal for their ongoing dedication to cleaning up their communities and collecting recyclable waste.
More than 640 tons of recyclable material – PET bottles, cans and paper – were collected this year by participating schools. This has saved about 4 340 cubic metres of landfill space and more than 1 250 tons of carbon from being emitted into the air.
Having collected a total of 27 604 kilograms of recyclable waste over the course of 2015, Ekuthuleni Primary School ranked first among participating schools around the country and walked away with the R50 000 cash prize.
This money will go towards improving the school’s infrastructure to further enrich the pupils’ learning experiences and increase their productivity.
After putting in a good shift throughout the year, Motjibosane Primary School from Temba in Hammanskraal came second. Pupils at this school collected 22 561 kilograms of waste. They were followed by the team from Siphosethu Primary School from Ntuzuma in KwaZulu-Natal, who amassed just under 15 000 kilograms of recyclables.
This year the programme introduced its Directors Award to recognise exceptional commitment and dedication to the Schools Recycling Programme. The first recipients of this award as well as the R50 000 cash prize were teacher Regina Rathethe and the Boikgantsho Primary School team.
ABI’s sustainable development manager, Gaopaleloe Mothoagae, said the company valued innovation and developing sustainable solutions.
SCHOOLS RECYCLING PROGRAMME
For the past five years the programme has looked to involve children as active participants in waste management and open their eyes to the importance of recycling by introducing the concept to them in a school environment.
By informing children at an early age about the impact that waste has on the environment, putting an emphasis on plastics in particular, the programme hopes to encourage awareness of proper waste management among youth.
“So we gave a lot of thought to how best we could recycle PET bottles in particular to obtain a lasting environmental impact. We realised that meant engaging with schoolchildren, thus getting tomorrow’s citizens on board now, and linking the entire recycling initiative to empowerment.”
At first the programme involved 40 schools from across the country; since then, more than 400 000 children have become involved from 404 schools around South Africa, most of which are located in townships and rural areas.
Each school taking part is asked to collect a minimum of 1 000 kilograms each month and those that go beyond this target then enter in the running to win monthly prizes and ultimately the grand awarded, which was won by Ekuthuleni Primary School this year.
The programme’s widespread influence is a result of its approach of combining education about waste management with a range of fun activities in the schools’ specially developed recycling curriculum to teach life and natural sciences.
“We are changing the mindset of an entire generation in order to change the way our society manages waste,” explained Mothoagae.
Various aspects of the programme were created in a way that would ensure it was self-sustaining and could provide jobs to some of the country’s many unemployed.
This year the programme appointed 24 recycling representatives from areas near schools to liaise with participating schools and ensure the smooth running of the recycling initiative.
Explaining the position that ABI has taken to making a positive impact on the areas in which their programme is involved, Mothoagae said the company was “determined to make a lasting impact by combining responsibility for the environment with a social good.
“That’s the only way we will save our planet.”