Recycling is industry of the future
Sorting, separating enables those with disabilities
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.
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.