Re­cy­cling is in­dus­try of the fu­ture

Sort­ing, sep­a­rat­ing en­ables those with dis­abil­i­ties

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - BRON­WYN DAVIDS

RE­CY­CLING waste could emerge as one of the big labour-in­ten­sive in­dus­tries of the fu­ture and peo­ple who start re­cy­cling busi­nesses “de­serve every pos­si­ble en­cour­age­ment”.

Ja­nine My­burgh, pres­i­dent of the Cape Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try, said it was “es­sen­tial that we place greater fo­cus on re­cy­cling for a va­ri­ety of en­vi­ron­men­tal rea­sons” and make con­sumers more aware of the need to re­cy­cle.

“At the same time we have to build re­cy­cling op­tions into man­u­fac­tur­ing and en­sure, at the out­set, that prod­ucts can be eco­nom­i­cally re­cy­cled at the end of their use­ful life,” My­burgh said.

As the ne­ces­sity for re­cy­cling grows, the Oa­sis As­so­ci­a­tion’s Re­cy­cling fa­cil­i­ties at the corner of Lee and Imam Haron roads in Clare­mont, and at the corner of 16th Street and 8th Av­enue, Elsies River, pro­vide pro­tec­tive em­ploy­ment for 375 peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties.

At the Clare­mont fa­cil­ity, there are some 5 000 house­hold drop-offs of re­cy­clable goods, while many peo­ple do­nate books and other items that are sold at the three char­ity shops run by the as­so­ci­a­tion. The drop-offs have risen from 700 in 2006.

When peo­ple de­liver goods, they of­ten take time to browse around the char­ity shop and to en­joy bev­er­ages and freshly baked bread, quiches, bis­cuits and cakes from the on- site bak­ery which forms a vi­tal part of the pro­tec­tive work­shop ethos.

Over the past year, the Oa­sis trucks col­lected waste from over 50 busi­nesses in the city and sorted 450 tons of of­fice pa­per, 390 tons of books and news­pa­pers, 370 tons of glass, 320 tons of card­board, 210 tons of mixed pa­per, 15 tons of tin cans, 12 tons of plas­tic and 30 tons of elec­tri­cal and elec­tronic waste.

This amounts to 1 797 tons of re­cy­clables a year – equiv­a­lent to the weight of 250 ele­phants – and saved 4 000 cu­bic me­tres of land­fill.

The sorted goods are in turn col­lected by com­pa­nies like Neopak Re­cy­cling, WasteMart, Walk­ers Re­cy­cling and Truter Re­cy­cling who feed the big re­cy­cling/ man­u­fac­tur­ing plants.

Oa­sis’ fundraiser Bless­ing Tsiga said: “Yes, it is an in­dus­try of the fu­ture, not just in terms of money mak­ing but in terms of con­scious­ness and the need to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment. Yes, there is money to be made by the larger cor­po­rates, how­ever con­scious­ness is grow­ing among cit­i­zens to do some­thing, not just to throw away the plas­tic or pa­per.”

Tsiga said the ex­po­nen­tial growth of the num­ber of dropoffs was a clear in­di­ca­tion that “some­thing is hap­pen­ing in the minds of peo­ple and their un­der­stand­ing of how im­por­tant it is to re­cy­cle and to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment”.

She said the re­cy­cling project was pri­mar­ily a means of rais­ing money for the or­gan­i­sa­tion and cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment for in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­abled peo­ple, even though at in­cep­tion the re­cy­cling project,which be­gan in the 1990s, the mis­sion was more to save the en­vi­ron­ment.

The three char­ity shops at Clare­mont, Pinelands and Elsies River started in re­sponse to the amount of us­able goods peo­ple dis­carded. As a re­sult, the shops now gen­er­ate over 33% of Oa­sis’ in­come.

Tsiga said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was con­stantly ap­peal­ing for house­hold re­cy­clables and used re­saleable items for their char­ity shops.

For many Cape Town res­i­dents, the neigh­bour­hood- based Oa­sis fa­cil­i­ties re­main sym­bols of a “big shift in un­der­stand­ing” when it comes to re­cy­cling and mak­ing a vi­tal con­tri­bu­tion to pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and en­gag­ing with a vul­ner­a­ble sec­tor of so­ci­ety. SORT­ING and sep­a­rat­ing are the two main tasks per­formed by the 375 work­ers em­ployed in the Oa­sis As­so­ci­a­tion’s re­cy­cling project and pro­tec­tive work­shops. All have in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties.

A total of 151 work­ers are em­ployed at the Oa­sis Clare­mont fa­cil­ity and 223 at the Good­wood/Elsies River fa­cil­ity. Some work in the pro­tec­tive work­shops, oth­ers en­gage with the public at the drop-off area or work on the trucks col­lect­ing waste from city busi­nesses.

Be­sides tasks such as sep­a­rat­ing and sort­ing waste, work­ers also re­move sta­ples, stick­ers, glue and plas­tic from pa­per and shred­ded pa­per.

An im­por­tant part of the Oa­sis em­ploy­ment pro­gramme is skills de­vel­op­ment, such as learn­ing bak­ing at the on-site bak­ery and work­ing in the char­ity shops.

Com­pa­nies also com­mis­sion work projects for the pro­tec­tive work­shop staff and these in­clude at­tach­ing iden­tity tags to lan­yards, work­ing with pack­ag­ing or clean­ing pun­nets.

Through in­come from the re­cy­cling project, the char­ity shops and bak­ery and sup­port from donors, Oa­sis is able to trans­port work­ers to and from work, pay salaries, and pro­vide meals, sports ac­tiv­i­ties, art classes, ex­cur­sions and so­cial work ser­vices for the work­ers and their families.

Per­ma­nent ac­com­mo­da­tion for 44 adults is pro­vided at two Oa­sis group homes in Ken­wyn and in Ruyterwacht.

PIC­TURES: SUPPLIED

The neigh­bour­hood-based Oa­sis fa­cil­i­ties re­main sym­bols of a big shift in un­der­stand­ing when it comes to re­cy­cling and mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion to pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

Work­ers sort and sep­a­rate waste for re­cy­cling at an Oa­sis fa­cil­ity.

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