In a determined effort to reduce the amount of waste that makes its way into our oceans, the City of Cape Town has partnered with several key players to remove garbage from local rivers.

A meeting took place to investigate how to reduce the waste in local water areas and included Plastics|SA, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, Woolworths, The Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, The Polyolefin Recycling Company (Polyco), Clean C, Gnu World Media and several other organisations. 

Working together 

Plastics|SA Sustainability Manager, John Kieser, explains the main reason the ocean clean up network exists, to share information, resources and ideas to decrease the amount of waste entering the sea. 

The first focus area is Black River in Observatory – Plastics|SA and the City of Cape Town’s Environment Management Department have created a system to remove floating litter on the river. On average 80 – 90% of the litter recovered on the river is plastic. 

A team collects plastic at specific areas once or twice a week and it is taken to Bokmakierie Primary School where it is recycled.

Currently, similar projects are being conducted in KwaZulu-Natal by the Department of Environmental Affairs and there is hope that the department will consider funding an Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP) in the Western Cape.

Initiatives are being implemented across the Cape, with Clean C and Gnu World installing litter-catching nets over stormwater drains in the 4km radius between Sunset Beach and Milnerton Lagoon.

Household and general refuse, mostly consisting of plastic washes into the lagoon from drains in Joe Slove, Sanddrift and Milnerton. The waste passes through the drains and makes its way to our beloved oceans and beaches.

The litter-catching project would require a trained team of five people to conduct regular cleanups and equipment such as wheelie bins, uniforms, and a truck to transport the collected garbage.

Clean C spokesperson, Gregory Player, says that EPWP is just the start and further funding is required to maintain the project.

“We’d like sponsorships to get the project off the ground – but once it’s implemented, we will move towards making it self-sustaining,” said Player. 

Currently, only 5% of South Africans recycle and CEO of Polyco, Mandy Naudé, says the reasons for this is a lack of education, infrastructure and motivation.

“We must make it convenient for South Africans to recycle,” she said.

Polyco has launched PACKA-CHING an program that aims to increase recycling in rural and lower income areas. The project has been running for a year in Langa and has since removed 240 000 kgs of plastic.