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Cash from trash: A win-win, says Kouga dairy

Home Agriculture Cash from trash: A win-win, says Kouga dairy

THE local waste economy contributes about R24.3-billion to the country’s GDP, and supports around 36 000 formal jobs and a further 80 000 informal jobs, according to a report by nonprofits organisation GreenCape. But this contribution could significantly increase if the waste management hierarchy was more widely embraced by consumers and organisations.

The Waste Management Hierarchy has been adopted globally as an approach to managing waste, and South Africa has included it in its National Waste Management Strategy. Use of the waste management hierarchy came alongside the emergence of lifecycle thinking in waste management policy, which looks at the whole of a product or service’s environmental impact — from raw material extraction, processing and manufacturing to distribution, usage and disposal.

The waste management hierarchy helps us to rethink our relationship with waste, and gives priority to waste prevention first, followed by re-use, recycling, recovery and finally disposal. In other word, sending waste to landfill disposal is meant to be a last resort.
Recycling of plastic products and packaging is a particular challenge for the country for to a variety of reasons, and most plastic packaging is sent to landfill or open dumps. While plastic recycling rates have increased steadily since 2011, the numbers have now reached a plateau.

Sectors that have the most influence to shift the system are brand owners followed by the government and retailers, the World Wildlife Fund said in a recent report, From Recycling to Post-Consumer Recyclate.

As part of its commitment to recycling and reducing its impact on the environment, Woodlands Dairy will install reverse vending machines in St Francis. Consumers will be able to return empty containers such as milk cartons for recycling and receive a small reward which can be accrued in an in-app e-wallet.

Marisa Maccaferri Marketing Executive for Woodlands Dairy said, “Woodlands understands its responsibility as a producer and distributor of packaged goods. We do our best to source, produce, manufacture and recycle responsibly,” she said.

“Consumers want to recycle, but it’s often very difficult as facilities are not readily available. We’re providing a simple and easy to use solution, and at the same time helping to change consumer habits. By reducing the amount of waste that makes its way to landfills, we’re assisting in the protection of the environment and giving other businesses the opportunity to reprocess the recycled materials into new products, and give it a new lease of life. It helps create further value and reduce waste to a minimum,” Maccaferri said.
Maccaferri stressed that recycling is of enormous importance.

“We all consume and need to do so responsibly and mindfully. We must understand that we have a direct impact on our environment, and the future of the planet. Recycling reduces water pollution, protects ecosystems and wildlife, creates job opportunities, and reduces waste as well as carbon emissions. Recycling helps save energy and reduces the depletion of natural resources.”

Besides the satisfaction of having done your part to protect the environment and the future of the planet, a small monetary reward is given based on the type of material recycled and what it can be sold for in your particular region. “This value is accrued in an e-wallet on the Imagined Earth app, which can be used to redeem airtime for instance. The whole process is fun and engaging and helps create a culture of recycling,” Maccaferri explained.

Huge success

Maccaferri said Woodlands Diary is ‘all in’ when it comes to sustainability and taking the lead with innovative initiatives such as the introduction and use of RVMs. The diary’s RVMs in Boksburg and Jeffreys Bay have been hugely successful, with consumers getting used to the functionality and into the habit of recycling when they come to these stores. “In only three months at these two sites, we’ve received 12 000 units or 600kg of recycled material, which equated to around 1 500 transactions,” she said.

With the RVM in St Francis, Woodlands Dairy aims to monitor the machine more closely, learn more about consumers and their habits and strengthen their relationship with the local community. “Woodlands is in the heart of the Kouga region, one of the biggest dairy producing regions in SA. We have a huge commitment and responsibility to the area and all who reside in it,” said Maccaferri.

Maccaferri believes RVMs are a concept that will catch on. “Feedback has been amazing. We have repeat customers who understand and appreciate our commitment to sustainability, and purchase more of our products as well. All different types of packs from different brands are accepted, so anyone can bring their recycling and do their part for the environment. We want to rally individuals and communities to do their part in safeguarding our beautiful environment by recycling responsibly and supporting brands that are focused on sustainability and promote recycling. RVMs are a game changing solution as all parties involved, benefit,” said Maccaferri.

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