Coca-Cola’s bottling partner, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) has awarded the top six schools who participated in the company’s 2019 Schools Recycling Programme with a total of R200 000 in cash prizes. The annual Schools Recycling Awards ceremony was recently hosted at the University of Johannesburg’s Kingsway Campus in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.

The 2019 award’s event was staged in front of an energetic crowd to recognise those schools that have been the most successful in driving recycling in the communities. Among those in attendance was Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Magdeline Sotyu; Miss Earth South Africa Lungo Katete and Zenande Mfenyana from the popular South African telenovela “The Queen” as Master of Ceremonies.  

The overall winners in the primary and high school categories were Eqinisweni Primary School from Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal and Mbilwi High School from the town of Sibasa in Venda, Limpopo who were each awarded R50 000. The remaining R100 000 was split between the first runner ups (R30 000 each) and second runner ups (R20 000 each).

In order to incentivise and drive recycling, awards have been built into the Schools Recycling Programme – adding a fun competitive element to the initiative, while giving learners a reason to do more in the recycling space. To qualify for the awards, schools have to commit to collect 1 000kg of PET a month with those that collect a tonne or more becoming eligible for prizes in addition to the revenue they get from selling the waste.

The programme is part of CCBSA’s commitment to creating a waste-free South Africa and is in line with Coca-Cola’s global commitment of a World Without Waste (WWW) by 2030. In 2018, Coca-Cola announced its World Without Waste vision which committed to an ambitious goal: to collect and recycle the equivalent of a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030, reaching a 100% collect ion and recycling rate of all our packaging.

“Globally, a culture of recycling and the proper management of waste materials is best established from a young age and reaffirmed at schools, where children spend a substantial portion of their daily lives,” said CCBSA Enterprise and Community Development Head, Tsholofelo Mqhayi. “This Award is but one of the many incentives we launch to encourage communities to adopt the principles of zero harm and rehabilitation of the environment.”

The Minister emphasised that when it comes to children, everything starts at home. “We need to teach them about recycling whilst they are still young because it becomes difficult to teachthem when they are adults.”

By getting learners involved in recycling at an early age, the company is working towards cultivating environmental awareness, appreciation and responsibility. Through the programme, students learn to reduce, reuse and, ultimately, recycle their litter and rubbish in order to create a cleaner South Africa.

The Programme additionally drives long-term recycling behaviour, both as these learners grow up and become adults, and in their families at home and in their communities where they become recycling ambassadors.

“The intention and vision of the programme is to create a future generation of South Africans that is committed to ensuring that waste does not end up as litter or on a landfill site,” continues Mqhayi. “A key component is to ensure that we provide infrastructure for the creation of revenue streams and recycling market access, so that they can earn money while they rejuvenate the local eco-system.”

In 2018, 866 schools participated, benefiting more than 700 000 learners involving over 12 000 educators. Through the Programme, they recovered 2 324 tonnes of recyclable material, which is almost double the amount of 1 168 tonnes collected in the previous year and 76% above the set target.  Of this, 982 tonnes, or 40%, was PET and collectively a total of 12 223m³ of landfill space and 1 850 tonnes of carbon emissions.

A key part of this initiative is job creation and over the past eight years, this initiative has created over 80 jobs for young people appointed as recycling representatives, with 30 proceeding to find permanent positions in the sector. Also, as part of CCBSA’s Enterprise Development Programme, CCBSA manages the enterprise development programme for 36 black and emerging waste management businesses, with a focus on youth and women.