trashback rewards community recycling

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2011-09-08 10:41

TrashBack uphinda-phindo! launch in Imizamo YethuTrashBack uphinda-phindo! launch in Imizamo YethuAn amazing community recycling initiative was quietly launched in Hout Bay this past weekend. It was not done with much fanfare but this innovative social change solution has great potential to transform recycling in communities across SA.

The brainchild of three students connected with UCT's Green Campus Initiative, TrashBack provides an incentive for locals to clean up their communities. The six month pilot project called uphinda-phindo! was started in Imizamo Yethu, an informal settlement in Hout Bay in collaboration with Green Living and the Hout Bay Recycling Co-operative based at the City of Cape Town's Hout Bay Waste Drop-off facility.

On Saturday afternoon an excited group of kids lined up at the recycling drop off point. Some had plastic bags full of plastic junk, others had crates of old beer bottles, they were queuing to register their details and deliver the recyclables that they had collected in their community over the last couple of days. In reward for their recycling efforts they earned points according to the number of crates their trash filled and how much it weighed.

Whilst TrashBack is not the first scheme in South Africa to reward collectors of recycling (another notable initiative is the Swop Shop in Hermanus) it has number of interesting features.

The kids that collect the most recycling within a two week period win prizes that are redeemed against the points that they accrue. The winners point balances are reset to zero and then the cycle starts again, with prizes awarded every two weeks. Those kids who do not win in a given two weed period carry their points over to the next period, so that everyone will eventually be a winner if they continue recycling.

A major benefit to the community is that litter gets cleaned up resulting in area beautification and a greater sense of place. More waste will be recycled and thus diverted from going to landfill and the project can also provide local informal and formal employment, contributing to social upliftment.

Weigh-inWeigh-inFor the Imizamo Yethu pilot, the recyclables collected by the kids are sorted by the Hout Bay Recycling Co-op and sold to Wasteplan (a recycling contractor). The Co-op has six members who will all benefit from the increased revenue they are able to realise from the extra trash collected.

TrashBack relies on partnering with sponsors to provide the incentives for recycling. For the pilot this includes local fish 'n chip shop, Fish on the Rocks which sponsors meal vouchers and the Hout Bay SuperSpar which has sponsored R 25 gift vouchers for the collectors to redeem. The Clothing Bank has gifted clothes for prize winners, and there is also talk of the Food Bank coming on board. Siyavula, the open source school text book project, donated Grade 10 Physical Science text books.

Running the initiative is also made possible through the donations of sms'es (BulkSMS), printed signage (Office National), scales (Scales Incorporated) and plastic crates (Mondi) for weighing the recyclables. Raw Love pet food donated money towards the launch event and the Broccoli Project provides the infrastructure for tracking the participants collection of recycling, as well as helping to raise funds.

TrashBack recycling hero'sTrashBack recycling hero'sFor the launch about 30 kids were expected as the TrashBack team had only spoken to a 1 group of learners about a week before. As it turned out on Saturday over 60 recyclers showed up and 394 kg of recycling was handed in which is an amazing achievement! Twenty two prizes were awarded to the top recyclers.

For now TrashBack has sponsorship to run a six month pilot, but the aim of TrashBack is to develop a scalable, sustainable model that can be rolled out to other communities across Cape Town and perhaps even further afield. The pilot project will be used to capture learnings and assess and tweak the model. If successful it has the potential to be replicated at other City of Cape Town Waste Drop-off points.

If you would like to find out more or contribute you can visit the TrashBack website or contact:
Andrew (082 442 7400), Terence (082 775 8207) or Nic (076 507 4272)

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