Port Elizabeth school a champion in recycling

It takes a community when it comes to recycling and green initiatives, says Kabega Primary School, winners of the Plastics|SA 2016 Clean Up & Recycle competition.

kabega primary green earth
Learners at Kabega Primary School in Port Elizabeth celebrate Earth Day. The school won the Plastics|SA 2016 Clean Up & Recycle competition. (Image supplied)

Melissa Javan
A grandmother who brought in newspapers that she had collected at her old her age home is one of the contributors to the recycling project at Kabega Primary School in Port Elizabeth. The school recently won the Plastics|SA 2016 Cleanup & Recycle Competition.

Educating people
Jacques Lightfoot, the sustainability manager at Plastics|SA, said that the initiative was founded in 2005 as The Fantastic Plastics SA school competition. In 2016, a total of 2,500 learners participated. The competition began in July and ran until October 2016, with final judging in November.

“The purpose of the competition was to encourage schools, businesses and community members to get involved with Clean-up Month in September,” explained Lightfoot. “Only the projects get evaluated and we do not conduct any monitoring of the schools, as we let their projects show their success.”

Participating schools had to write a short report about their initiatives and submit photographs. Brand South Africa’s Play Your Part initiative is a partner in Cleanup & Recycle, which last year had the theme “Play Your Part … Let’s Clean-Up South Africa!”

kabega primary green bottles
One of Kabega Primary School’s initiatives is cleaning up the river and the beach. Gideon Labuschagne and Bianca Deysel are part of the initiative to collect water for farmers in the Free State, during drought. (Image supplied)

The winners
The top three schools were Kabega Primary in Port Elizabeth, Vaalpark Primary in Vaalpark, and Kragbron Primary in Witbank, Mpumalanga.
Winning organisations were Clean-up & Recycle Klerksdorp in North West, Fichardt Park Neighbourhood Association in Free State, and Greater Tygerberg Partnership in Bellville, Western Cape.

Lightfoot said in a press release that entries were judged based on how many participants were involved in the respective projects. “[We judged] whether they managed to involve their community.”

kabega primary principal
Kabega Primary School principal Andrew Jonas (left) with Grade 1 learners Natalie de Jager, Cloe Jantjies, Gareth van Heerden and Tanya de Kock, as well as deputy principal Corrie van Eck; the school received a bench from Plastics|SA as winners of the Plastics|SA 2016 Cleanup & Recycle Competition. (Image supplied)

Lightfoot added: “Kabega Primary was a clear winner and stood out for us because of the amount of recycling and other environmental and sustainability work it does … It is an amazing school that is clearly dedicated to making a difference in its environment as it organised clean-ups in Baakens River Valley, Willows and Seaview.”

It’s not about the competition
Adele Botha, co-ordinator of the green projects at Kabega Primary School, said they had been undertaking green initiatives for the past four years. The school, for example, used a solar geyser.

It had an enviro-committee consisting of teachers who organised the projects and wrote regular reports on the initiatives. “The whole school takes part in our green initiatives,” said Botha.

Learners collected things such as bottles, lids and plastic bags, which they brought to school. “We have a group of Grade 6 learners who are in charge of making sure the recycling station stays clean,” she added.

Recycling should be a lifestyle, which was why the school got the parents and the community involved. “The older generation are being taught by the children to do the right thing. This is really life-changing. We are not doing this to be in a competition.”

Botha said the surrounding community got involved in their initiatives, even the police. They were trying to get better at cleaning up their environment every year. “We also do regular beach and river clean-ups.”

Achievements
They had been working with The Waste Trade Company in Port Elizabeth for four years, Botha said. “They have 230 schools that do recycling. For the four quarters of 2015 and 2016 we were the winning school. For the last quarter of 2016, we recycled material of 12,990kg.”

In November 2016, they won the Eastern Cape’s Top Green Award for small business. “For the past three years we have represented the Eastern Cape in the Sasol Enviro Quiz in Gariep.”

Kabega Primary has also undertaken a project with the Sweethearts Foundation. For this, the learners and community collect plastic bread clips. For every 50,000 of these bread clips, one wheelchair is donated to a child in need.

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