On the back of its recent announcement of a 6% year-on-year increase in the recycling of PET plastic bottles, national industry body the PET Recycling Company (PETCO) has unveiled its 2019 recycling champions – people and organisations making strides in sustainability at grassroots level across South Africa.
Representing the Northern Cape in the honours list is De Aar’s Eddie Kampher and his Angels Resource Centre.
Taking the award for the Best Community Breakthrough Initiative, Kampher has brought much-needed income, opportunity, innovation and hope to his community. Furthermore, his system is replicable in all small rural communities.
Eddie Kampher and his Angels Resource Centre in De Aar was recently announced as PET Recycling Company (Petco’s) 2019 recycling champion in the Northern Cape. https://t.co/mskgfH7L2x
— DFA Kimberley (@DFANEWSPAPER) July 3, 2019
Kampher said he was first touched by angels three years ago when he enrolled in one of the Angels’ programmes, which are designed to assist rural and survivalist entrepreneurs to create sustainable small businesses.
Kampher added that he was impressed by their enthusiasm for uplifting communities and vowed to take the concept further.
On completion of his training, he set up a recycling opportunity for under-resourced communities in the Northern Cape. His Waste to Art programme teaches people how to sort, clean, bale and even create functional furniture and art.
A total of 30 entrepreneurs, who started out with nothing, are now selling to local buy-back centres and earning a monthly income.
The system he set in place involves providing homeless and unemployed people with a bit of skills training and plugging them into the ecosystem of recycling and buy-back.
The programme provides them with new opportunities within the waste management and recycling industry, cleaning the environment whilst creating employment and better health and safety in their communities.
Kampher said: “We are truly making money for the homeless and unemployed and love what we do. The more we teach them about plastic, the more the tonnage changes as well. Of course plastic is light and the effort to collect the volumes is sometimes demotivating – but we persevere.
“The longer we support and motivate them, the bigger the impact of getting plastic recycled and out of our environment.“We focus on unemployed youth and women, but the need is so vast that we mix the groups.”
Through his collaboration and excellent client relationship management with international players such as Mpact, Stridalong Recycling and Collect-a-Can South Africa, who assist with equipment and transport, the Philipstown group, for example, manages up to eight tonnes of mixed, but sorted, recyclables in a month.
“It is easier than ever to start recycling. The decision to start actually seems to require much more effort because people still hold a stereotypical view on it.”
Of being the only company in the Northern Cape to receive a PETCO award, Kampher said: “I really feel honoured. It remains a privilege to have received the award, which I have gladly accepted on behalf of a whole network of individuals, including our staff and organisations who have been holding our hands, but most especially the entrepreneurs who overcome many obstacles daily.
“Our employees and I take it as an incredible affirmation that our labour has yielded results and it gives us the courage to continue.”
Kampher said the decision to get into recycling came as a natural consequence of business skills training provided by Angels across all industries.
“The system can start as simply as having places to store your recycled materials in the house, whether in a box, bin or bag. The recycling container can be kept next to the rubbish bin and will remind everyone in the house to recycle as much as possible. If in doubt, search on Google or call our Angels office.”