Polyco’s Packa-Ching, one of South Africa’s most successful community recycling initiatives has reached an impressive milestone. In just six years, the initiative has helped community residents in low-income areas across South Africa earn over R10 million in return for collecting over 10 million kilograms of used recyclable packaging materials such as plastic, glass, cans and paper. These materials are weighed on-site at the Packa-Ching unit and community members are paid immediately. Funds can be utilised at a number of retails outlets or can be withdrawn or transferred to another bank account. Polyco’s Packa-Ching initiative was founded with the goal of ending plastic waste in the environment, diverting recyclables from landfill, and growing the recycling economy in South Africa.
“Recyclable waste has value when it is viewed as a ‘secondary resource’,” says Patricia Pillay, Chief Executive Officer at Polyco. “Through Packa-Ching there has been a massive shift in the perception towards waste. Community residents understand that they can earn an income by trading in their used recyclable packaging. Some residents have reported that they are able to pay electricity bills, school fees and put food on the table because of their recycling efforts with Packa-Ching.”
Not only does Packa-Ching provide residents with an additional income source, but the initiative also supports local recycling businesses. Packa-Ching mobile recycling units, that consist of a truck and trailer, are in operation across South Africa and they are run by local waste management businesses. “We provide these local businesses with equipment and support with some of the operational costs. This model allows Packa-Ching to become completely self-sustaining over time,” says Pillay.
To-date, there are 15 mobile Packa-Ching units throughout the country, servicing more than 80 communities, and employing over 50 people; the most recent being launched in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal in May 2023 with new launches planned for the remainder of 2023. A total of 10 003 987 kilograms of recyclable waste has been diverted using these recycling units. “The mobility of the Packa-Ching recycling units takes the recycling facility to the doorstep of its users. Being mobile also means that the recycling business can take the recycling unit around the community, extending its market and customer base.”
The idea behind Packa-Ching is to tap into a new market of recyclable material by offering an incentivised buy-back model for residents living in informal communities – this allows an income earning opportunity for both the Packa-Ching Enterprise Owner and the community member. By offering a monetary voucher in exchange for recyclables, Packa-Ching facilitates a change in behaviour and shift in perception towards plastic waste.
“Having the support of Shoprite and Sasol as the main sponsors has been instrumental in the roll out of Packa-Ching,” shares Pillay. “We are aiming to have a total of 25 units operating across South Africa within the next year and we look forward to uplifting more communities and helping to clean up the environment,” shares Pillay.
If you are a waste collection company in South Africa and are interested in understanding the criteria required for enterprise selection please visit https://www.packaching.co.za/entrepreneur/ and email firstname.lastname@example.org
To follow the development of the Packa-Ching project visit www.packaching.co.za or follow them on Facebook at @PackaChing or on Instagram at @PackaChingZA
To find out more about Polyco, the driving force behind Packa-Ching, visit their website www.polyco.co.za.