Polystyrene recycling association the Polystyrene Packaging Council of South Africa (PSPC) is running a school recycling project to educate schoolchildren on the importance of recycling.
The PSPC started the schools campaign to ensure that schools, teachers and parents taking part in recycling projects receive the necessary support and encouragement. The programme is likely to continue because of its current success.
“Over the last three months, PSPC has been focusing on schools in Gauteng, and we have new schools signing up every day. Strategic partnerships are being put in place to give us maximum exposure, for example, by working with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa) through its Eco-Schools Programme,” says PSPC director Adri Spangenberg.
The Eco-Schools Programme is an international programme that is active in 51 countries. The programme aims to create awareness and encourage appropriate action on environmental sustainability in schools and their surrounding communities. Of equal importance is the fact that the PSCP is forming partnerships with normal schools and public schools as well and not just Eco Schools.
The project includes encouraging the recycling of items made from high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), such as polystyrene takeaway trays and containers; casings used to protect appliances and products, such as plastic cutlery and yoghurt tubs; and the outer casings of BIC ballpoint pens for the Breadtags for Wheelchairs and Tutudesk projects.
The Breadtags for Wheelchairs project is currently in its sixth year. It entails schoolchildren and volunteers around the country collecting bread tags made from Hight Impact Polystyrene (HIPS), which are used to ‘buy’ wheelchairs for people who need them but cannot afford them.
The school recycling project, which incorporates the Wheelchairs and Tutudesk projects, has identified people in communities who can benefit from wheelchairs.
The Tutudesk, meanwhile, is a simple, portable and robust school desk made from recycled HIPS that a child can place on his or her lap, regardless of whether the child is sitting on the floor or on a chair. The desk creates a dedicated ‘work zone’ and stable writing platform. The project falls under the patronage of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Several underprivileged schools will also benefit from receiving the desks that will be ‘bought’ through the recycling of yoghurt tubs and polystyrene collected by the children.
“Recycling has become part of schools’ curricula and the teachers welcome any opportunity that enables kids to become part of a recycling project in a practical manner. An added motivation for them is the knowledge that they are doing something that has an immediate and direct impact on the life of somebody who is less fortunate and in need,” says Spangenberg.
PSPC’s school recycling project also includes an aspect of corporate social investment and helping charities in need. The schools involved include Hatfield Christian School, Waterkloof Primary, Laerskool Generaal Hendrik Schoeman, Saint Paulus School, Meerhof Primary and Laerskool Anton van Wouw, all in Pretoria.
As part of the project, the PSPC provided branded wheelie bins for the schools, free of charge, to assist them in collecting the recyclables.
The association has also helped to connect the schools with waste collectors, such as WastePlan and Recycle Drive , in their areas, which ensures that the schools receive all the support and infrastructure they need.
An element of fun is also included in the project, as PSPC representatives ensure that the interest of the schoolchildren is maintained by explaining the project using fun and colourful graphics and encouraging them to be active participants in the activities.
Meanwhile, people needing homes will also benefit by receiving houses that will be built using a mixture of cement and recycled polystyrene trays and containers.
“The houses will be robust. . . and they will also be built using steel frames. The product has been approved by the South African Bureau of Standards for all buildings as an alternative to building structures using traditional materials. It also holds a significant insulation advantage, owing to the density of the mixture,” explains Spangenberg.
The house-building project is at an advanced stage, as licences for the factories responsible for building the houses have been sold across the country. The first factory has been built in Pretoria and, as a result, the first houses have been built in Pretoria.
The PSPC hopes that through this campaign, more schools will be encouraged to participate in the recycling endeavour and urges schools that are struggling with their projects not to become discouraged, but to access help and support from organisations such as the PSPC.