July until the end of September 2017 saw Wildlands distribute 516 double Green Desks to 14 schools across KwaZulu-Natal – ultimately giving 1032 learners a solid learning space.
The delivery of the Green Desks forms part of a broader “Virtuous Circle” project that promotes sustainable recycling partnerships involving the consumer goods industry, government and civil society – and most importantly, school children.
The Virtuous Circle concept is founded on three pillars – feeding, recycling and education. The delivery of Futurelife Smart food pouches to schools, the collection of waste for recycling and the manufacture of the Green Desks is all made possible through the support of DuPont, Amcor, Futurelife®, Wastebuster, Woolworths, the KZN Department of Public Works, Perspex SA, Rural Waste Poverty Alleviation Solutions (RWPA) and Wildlands.
Each double Green Desk ensures that 60kgs of waste (previously unrecyclable multi-layered material) is diverted from landfill, or worse, left uncollected – a testament to the world’s endemic plastic pollution problem.
The desks containing recycled waste from the multilayer pouches were delivered to schools involved in the project. In this way, the school children, who have already enjoyed the nutritious food kept fresh by the pouches, are getting to see first-hand the benefits of a circular economy approach.
“Nutrition is key to learning, as it provides learners with the fuel to engage in school activities, and thrive. Our primary goal at Futurelife is to help learners prepare for healthy and productive lives, and good nutrition is central to that,” says David Sweidan, GM: Marketing and Sales. “Futurelife has a history of ensuring South African children are given their best chance in life. The brand was founded 10 years ago, primarily to feed disadvantaged and vulnerable people,” he adds.
“The Virtuous Circle project was inspired by several of the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) in action. It would simply not have been possible without the unrivalled expertise, active support, and incredible dedication of the various partners involved. This collaborative model was recognized as a best practice for addressing the issue of single-use waste holistically and the Virtuous Circle won the Circular Economy Award of Packaging Europe’s 2017 Sustainability Awards,” said DuPont Global Sustainability Value Chain and Project Leader, Sarah Perreard.
“Packaging plays an essential role in preserving and transporting food. The Virtuous Circle shows that it has an even greater value when it is recycled – in this case for school desks but also for building material to construct low cost housing. We’re proud to be part of a collaboration that is making a tangible difference to the lives of young people,” said Dr. Gerald Rebitzer, Amcor Sustainability Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“For more than a decade, Woolworths has created valuable educational resources and provided learning opportunities to thousands of schools in South Africa through the MySchool programme. This is an exciting new way to add shared value,” said Tom McLaughlin, Woolworths Good Business Journey specialist.
“It is humbling to see the joy and energy a school desk brings to children,” said Wildlands’ Senior Manager of Recycling, Hanno Langenhoven. “It is a real privilege to be able to deliver the Green Desks to learners with the help of our partners. When delivering the desks one can see the difference it makes, from a visibly cleaner school environment to the passion it cultivates in the learners which directly relates to improved scholastic performance and a brighter future.”
When Green Desks were delivered to Inchanga Primary School, the Vice Principal, Caroline Jali commented: “These desks make a huge a difference because many of the learners don’t have desks. The school continues to grow at a considerable rate with a huge number of new learners every year, however this means that more desks are needed or more learners will be without.”