WILDLANDS – a programme of the WILDTRUST embarked on an innovation journey three years ago where they pioneered the Green Desk. These desks were the first of their kind providing a solution to divert multi-layered plastic waste from landfill. To amplify this innovation, the #GOGREEN campaign, supported by Old Mutual and funded by Polyco (Polyolefin Responsibility Organisation NPC) was born. The campaign aimed at providing a practical solution for collecting waste from athletes and spectators at endurance events, while discouraging littering and promoting upcycling and recycling.
Polyco is a not-for-profit industry body responsible for growing the collection and recycling of polyolefin plastic packaging in South Africa and for promoting the responsible use and re-use of plastics. Their mission is to reduce the amount of plastics going to landfill and to end plastic waste in the environment. Polyco does this by collaborating with various stakeholders, with investment in innovation and recycling infrastructure in South Africa, and by educating both the industry and the consumer about recycling.
The equivalent of the waste collected from the Two Oceans and Comrades marathon was transformed into Green Desks in collaboration with Polyplank, a multi-material flexible packaging recycler based in Cape Town.
Through the 2018 events, a total of 800 desks (400 through Two Oceans Marathon and 400 through the Comrades marathon) have been donated to underprivileged schools in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Western Cape. The schools which benefitted included Ikhaya le Themba, Ukhanyo Primary, Masiphumelele and Kayamandi High School in the Western Cape. In KZN, the schools that benefitted include Intshisekelo Secondary School, Sukuma Comprehensive School, Ukusakwabasha, Mzimba and Lamula Primary School.
Polyco CEO, Mandy Naudé states, “Polyco is very pleased to be part of the #GOGREEN Green Desks campaign for the second year, along with Old Mutual and WILDLANDS. This project is a perfect fit within our organisation in terms of finding new market end-uses for recycled polyolefin pellets or for difficult to recycle multi-layer materials. These desks are being made from 100% recycled material – predominantly polyolefin material, which is extremely durable and perfect for school desks. Educating children that used plastic packaging has value and must not end up being litter in the environment is crucial. Showing them that used plastic packaging was used to make their new desk is a very powerful message. We are pleased to be associated with this project and to assist to meet two key needs in our country – to clean up our environment and to provide the necessary desks to our schools.”
CMA CSI Convenor, Mqondisi Ngcobo says, “At the CMA, we are mindful that the responsibility rests within each and every one of us to recycle, repair, reuse and do the best that we can by our planet. This initiative is highly significant in that it addresses the major need to recycle our waste and benefit local schools in a tangible way with durable and much-needed school desks.”
“It has been an incredible journey seeing these schools benefit from the waste generated at these events. As an environmental organisation, we feel this not only fulfils our mandate but further fuels our vision for a sustainable future for all. As the running season gets into full swing, we would like to call on all runners taking part in the Comrades Marathon 2020 to sign up as a WILDLANDS runner and ‘dare to dream’ of a better tomorrow for all South Africans,” concludes Buyi Makhoba-Dlamini, WILDLANDS Marketing Deputy Director.