Following the launch of the Nedbank supported Youth Employment Services (YES) programme in March, which saw over 1700 youth employed at the WILDTRUST under various disciplines, the Nedbank Group Chief Executive, Mike Brown recently visited the WILDTRUST to get first-hand experience of the work being done to tackle environmental issues.
“We realise for too long business has been too quiet, we know we need to go beyond business as usual and create meaningful job opportunities for our youth,” Brown said. “Sustainable development is impossible without sustaining our people, as unemployment continues to plague our nation, we have committed to making a difference by contributing to YES.”
According to a SARS recycling report, a record 2.15 billion plastic bottles, weighing 93 235 tonnes were recycled by the South African recycling industry in 2018 – saving 578 000m3 going to landfill. This is boosted by the recycling efforts of WILDTRUST’s Recycling initiatives which collect waste from a network of Waste-preneurs, businesses, schools and charitable organisations and beneficiates it, through world first innovations, into Green Bricks and Plastic Fuel.
WILDTRUST CEO, Dr Andrew Venter said the organization is encouraged by the difference the YES youth are beginning to have both environmentally and from a socio-economic development perspective. “We believe it can change the lives of so many young people and in so doing shift the course of history. In working together with Nedbank and the YES programme, we have the enhanced ability to not only unblock the challenges to employment that our youth encounter, but also to address and make an impact on our environment.” Venter said.
In the past three months alone, the YES youth that have been placed across WILDTRUST projects and partners have enabled the following: 1 802 570 kilograms of waste has been collected from land, coastlines, riverbanks, schools and recycling villages; they have established 180 vegetable gardens in communities, schools and ECD centres; they’ve planted over 3 000 indigenous trees and cleared 25 hectares of land of alien plants; they’ve engaged with almost 250 schools and ECD centres reaching 20 000 children; and they’ve provided guided tours to over 3 000 people.
These recycling efforts are further amplified by the WILDOCEANS programme which focuses on marine conservation, research and advocacy and awareness. The programme includes the “Blue Port” project, a team of 50 local YES youth, who hope to address the environmental and social challenges linked to waste accumulating along our coastline. These ambassadors clean up the Kwa-Zulu Natal coast daily and inspire others to do the same.
“There is not a person in our WILDTRUST team, or the communities where we serve, that hasn’t been touched in some way by the YES youth and the impact that they’re making,” Venter added.