A unique recycling business, ‘Packa-Ching’, has seen community residents across South Africa making an income by selling their recyclable packaging, shifting a change in behaviour towards packaging waste and cleaning up the environment.
The success of the Packa-Ching recycling business model has resulted in a partnership which saw Sasol coming on board as a key sponsor. Sasol is currently executing a multi-faceted plastic sustainability approach to support the elimination of plastic waste leakage into the South African environment. Sasol reconized collection is a key component and hence committed in November 2019 to fund 25 additional Packa-Ching mobile units across South Africa. Sasol has now further expanded on its commitment by agreeing to a much-needed fuel sponsorship for all Packa-Ching business owners to assist them with their fuel costs.
Packa-Ching is a mobile separation-at-source recycling service. It consists of a recycling collection truck and trailer that parks at different collection points within a community for a few hours each week and collects used recyclable packaging material from community members. Each Packa-Ching unit is managed by a business owner, who operates this mobile recycling collection truck and trailer. With logistics costs being a major factor in waste collection and recycling operations in South Africa, support with fuel costs will be very important to help these business owners build a sustainable business over the next 5 years, while reaching more of the community, allowing more people to trade in their recyclables.
“We are grateful for the support for our business owners and key sponsors who make Packa-Ching the success that it is,” says Mandy Naudé, CEO at The Polyolefin Responsibility Organisation (Polyco), who is the founding organisation of Packa-Ching.
“Our goal for Packa-Ching is to teach people within under-resourced and informal communities that waste has value when recycled. Residents bring their sorted recyclables to the Packa-Ching unit, have them weighed, and in return are paid directly into their eWallet via their cellphone.* Packa-Ching shows people that used packaging has value and selling recyclables becomes recognised as an income generating activity. The result is a cleaner environment and a more economically active community,” says Naudé.
“If we can increase the participation rates in these communities, we can divert a significant amount of recyclable packaging material that would have gone to landfill as waste.” Recyclable packaging that is lost to landfill is a lost value that could have been economically repurposed.
“Plastic waste in the environment is unacceptable and through our multi-faceted plastic sustainability approach, Sasol will focus its efforts to reduce plastic waste in South Africa in close cooperation with government, relevant industry participants and associations” says Thabiet Booley, Vice President (EVP) of Sasol’s Base Chemicals business. “The elimination of plastics waste leakage into the environment combined with the successful implementation of a circular plastics economy in South Africa will create opportunities for economic growth for a wide range of stakeholders including individuals, communities as well as the downstream plastics and waste management industries” says Booley.
Since 2017 Packa-Ching has been responsible for more than 1400 tonnes of recyclable packaging being diverted from landfill and over R1 100 000 million that has been paid to community residents.
The Packa-Ching business currently has four units operating in the areas of Cape Town in the Western Cape; Thabazimbi in Limpopo; Buffalo City in the Eastern Cape; Katlehong in Gauteng; with the newest addition launching in Newcastle in Kwazulu Natal at the beginning of September 2020. Scaling up the success of this business model, Polyco aims to have a further 25 Packa-Ching units operating across South Africa by 2025. Sasol South Africa’s sponsorship of the administration costs required to implement and operate Packa-Ching, as well as fuel for all 25 recycling units over the next five years, will significantly help to achieve this goal and make this recycling business a success. The expected benefits of rolling out 25 recycling units over the 5 years will result in the collection of 70 000 Tons of recyclable waste to drive the downstream recycling industry, R50 million paid to communities as well as creating over 75 new jobs.
* This addresses the risks associated in dealing with cash. Users only need a basic feature phone and do not require a smart phone to make use of this service. The funds are immediately available to spend at participating merchants, including but not limited to, Shoprite, Checkers and uSave stores, to purchase airtime, to transfer to anyone in South Africa or to make a cash withdrawal.