#GOGREEN, a campaign developed by WILDLANDS, a programme of the WILDTRUST, in partnership with Old Mutual supported by Polyco is aimed at providing a practical solution for collecting waste from athletes and spectators at endurance events, while discouraging littering and promoting upcycling and recycling.
Launched in 2017 at the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (OMTOM) in Cape Town, followed by the Comrades Marathon in KwaZulu Natal, the campaign looks to reduce the impact of waste from the endurance events but also to provide a social benefit back to the local communities supported by both of these prestigious events.
The equivalent of the waste collected from OMTOM and Comrades in 2018 has been transformed into Green Desks in collaboration with Polyplank, a multi-material flexible packaging recycler based in Cape Town. The desks have been made possible through a partnership between WILDLANDS and Polyco (Polyolefin Responsibility Organisation NPC). 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 2017 events saw a total of 667 desks (333 through OMTOM and 334 through the Comrades marathon) being committed by Polyco through these events. The 2018 events have enabled an increase to 800 Green Desks, benefitting 20 underprivileged schools, 10 in Cape Town and 10 in Kwa-Zulu Natal most receiving 40 desks.
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. ”
“The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon continues to make year-on-year progress in limiting litter, reducing waste, upcycling waste and entrenching our eco-sustainability values to protect our pristine environment,” says Sue Forge, Two Oceans Marathon Chief Operations Officer. “We continue to educate runners on the importance of running clean and to encourage green positive behaviour change amongst our Two Oceans Community including partners, suppliers and supporters as well”. Debra Barnes, Chief Marketing Officer, says “Our green focus is a critical part of our inherent proposition as a brand. We are committed to upholding planet-friendly values”.
Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) Chairperson Cheryl Winn remarked, “It has been said that the greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it, and at CMA we are mindful that the responsibility rests within each and every one of us. We are proud to be associated with the #GOGREEN Campaign and of our long-standing relationship with WILDLANDS as one of our Official Charities, with whom we share vision and values.” CMA General Manager, Keletso Totlhanyo said, “To know that the waste generated on Comrades race day will not be dumped in a landfill but rather be converted into school desks is the most inspiring thing about this project.”
“We have been so excited to be part of this campaign which aligns so beautifully to our vision of a Sustainable Future for All! Not only are we able to address the environmental challenge of finding a solution for this material, ensuring that we prevent it from ending up on our coastlines and in the sea, but we’ve also been able to find a small solution for the desk shortage in the country – ensuring that children’s learning conditions are improved. The faces of the children say it all! We’d like to thank OMTOM, Comrades, Old Mutual and Polyco for joining us on this inspirational journey”, said Louise Duys, WILDTRUST Executive for Partnerships, Marketing & Training.
The #GOGREEN campaign is set to make a big difference to underprivileged schools through the Green Desks. A momentous occasion for all involved took place on Friday last week, where Ukhanyo Primary School in Cape Town received 60 desks.
“We have learners that had to use their hands as support for their books while some of them lay on floors. This made me question the kind of freedom we have in South Africa if our children are laying on cold floors for education purposes. However, receiving the Green Desks will not only restore some dignity and hope, but our learners will also be able to learn in a conducive space that makes it easier for them to concentrate,” explained Phuthumile Tyhali, Principal of Ukhanyo Primary School.
“We will be using these desks in our open spaces to allow teachers and learners to engage with the concept of the outdoor classroom. As a Creative Arts institution set in an amazing environment of mountains, hills and historic buildings, these desks now allow the children to be more directly in contact with the visual stimulus that will inspire them to create beautiful art,” said Berenice Carelse-Plato, Principal of The Children’s Art Centre.
More of the Green Desks will be rolled out to a further 19 KwaZuly-Natal and Western Cape schools throughout the months of May, June and July.
In addition to the Green Desks provided to the schools, 5 000 indigenous trees and plants, grown by WILDLANDS’ Stellenbosch based Tree-preneurs, will be planted at the schools on behalf of funds raised through the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon.