RECYCLING REWARDS: Ermelo recycling entrepreneur Johanna Leshabane (left) received R500 000 worth of supporting infrastructure from PETCO and Safripol. Here PETCO’s Belinda Booker (centre) and KAP Chemicals (Safripol) chief executive officer Leigh Pollard hand over her new equipment

Boost for Ermelo recycling project

MOTIVATED by a strong desire to clean up the environment, while also fighting unemployment, hunger and the growing threat of drugs in her community, Johanna Leshabane launched the Bophelo Recycling project in 2007.

And while the project started out relatively small, the power of partnerships has seen it grow to the point where it now employs two full-time staff members and three freelancers who have increased collection volumes to over 40 tons per year.

At the end of May, the business received a further boost when PETCO member and polymer producer Safripol, handed over supporting infrastructure worth R500 000 to further Leshabane’s vision.

The joint contribution included, among other things, a shipping container, electricity supply, trailer, roofing structure, trolleys, signage, fencing and branding, as well as training and mentoring support.

“But that is just the tip of the iceberg,” entrepreneur Leshabane said. “I see a future in which, instead of transporting our collected waste to Gauteng, recycling plants will rise throughout Mpumalanga, offering employment to youngsters who have ideas and visions the older generation may not have thought of.”

Explaining what this partnership means, PETCO collections and training project manager Belinda Booker said partnerships between government, business and industry were key to unlocking meaningful strategies to address waste reduction in South Africa.

“We have begun partnering with government departments, conducting training and workshops for officials as well as SMMEs and co-operatives. We also sponsor projects like Bophelo with equipment to grow and sustain their businesses, thereby stimulating job creation, alleviating poverty, and promoting a cleaner environment and development in our country. By growing these SMMEs we increase the quality and quantity of their PET collections which assists PETCO in achieving our recycling targets.”

Safripol’s technology and innovation executive Gert Claasen said: “This is our first direct support towards an operation like this. Safripol is strongly committed to our environment and we believe that it is very important for us to use all avenues to address the prevention of plastic pollution in our beautiful country.

“We believe that this  initiative is the beginning of a journey for us and other key stakeholders. With the help of PETCO, we will develop the path forward as and when it requires expertise and collaboration.”