Reduce, re-use, recycle – it’s the clarion call of our times. Team Recycling in Pennington on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast are certainly heeding it…
Vast amounts of rubbish strewn about South Africa suggest that there are far too many people ignoring the urgency of the situation, but then there are others who set an example by rolling up their sleeves to clean up their environment and keep it that way.
One inspiring group is Team Recycling in Pennington on the KZN South Coast.
“It began during the Christmas season of 2010 when residents, Averil and Ivan Bennewith decided that the contents of the rubbish bins at the main beach should be recycled,” says team member, Evelyn Heunis.
“We had no recycling facilities here and, every week, Averil and Ivan would fill up their bakkie with waste and take it to the recycling depot at Scottburgh.”
Others soon came on board to set up a proper recycling project in the town under the auspices of the very active Pennington Conservancy, whose other impressive initiatives include resuscitating nature at an ex-rubbish dump on the northern side of town.
Volunteers swung into action and it wasn’t long before enough waste to sink a battleship had been collected. But there was one snag: contractors weren’t prepared to drive to Pennington to collect the material.
“We were awash with rubbish,” Evelyn recalls. “It was a nightmare.” And then, in the nick of time, along came Reggie Govender, CEO of Coastal Waste in Port Shepstone, who undertook to send trucks twice weekly to pick up the waste. “Reggie’s arrival meant no more trash flood!” says Evelyn.
Today, in partnership with Reggie and the local municipality, which supplies plastic recycling bags in four colours (each for a different category of waste), Team Recycling efficiently operates three neatly-maintained depots where residents can deposit appropriate rubbish.
The project has proved to be an outstanding success. Says conservancy secretary Vic Schwikkard, “As of the end of June 2016, just over 352 tons of paper, plastic, cans and glass had been collected. All this would have ended up in the Umdoni Humberdale Landfill Site. Team Recyling’s efforts have resulted in a major saving to the landfill while also being a saving on the country’s natural resources as all these materials are being recycled by Coastal Waste. The project has also created employment for local people who maintain and keep the depots tidy.”
That’s not the end of it. Inspired by a trip to Rwanda, where plastic bags are banned and where everyone from the president to young children participates in a monthly community clean-up, Evelyn suggested that Team Recycling could arrange a similar event.
And so it is that if you go down to Pennington on the third Saturday of every month, you’ll see Penningtonions out and about, their sleeves rolled up, doing something good for their environment.
Words: Andrea Abbott
Pictures: Andrea Abbott and Lennart Eriksson