SOUTH AFRICA – SA-based independent plastics manufacturing company, Safripol has partnered with Green Corridors to tackle plastic pollution in South Africa.

The project involves the implementation of litter booms at various hot spots along river catchments in KwaZulu-Natal to reduce pollution in the rivers and reclaim the green spaces for communities to enjoy.

The two firms have installed 21 litter booms across five river systems in KwaZulu-Natal, which have allowed the collection of 3,500 kg of plastic and 2,000 kg of other materials for reuse this past year.

A litter-boom is a pipe serving as a physical barrier installed across the river surface and designed to divert solid waste away from waterways thereby preventing marine pollution while enabling recovery of valuable materials for reuse as secondary raw materials in the recycling industry.

The purpose of the project is to demonstrate a workable, low-cost, and fit-for-purpose river waste management system, which can then be duplicated along other river catchment hot-spot areas.

According to Avashnee Chetty, Sustainability manager at Safripol: “The litter boom intervention is an effective way to mobilize local communities at the grassroots level to recycle plastics and other useful materials while reducing environmental pollution.

“This project has created local jobs in the communities where the litter booms have been implemented, thereby creating ownership of the waste collection system, while at the same time contributing to a cleaner environment and plastic-free communities.”

Green Corridors Green Spaces Program manager Nick Swan added: “Our partnership with Safripol has brought multiple layered beneficial impacts, including scaling out of the litter booms installation and management into new river catchments.

“This increases the quantity of solid waste intercepted and the number of pro-poor jobs created to 13, improving the environment’s quality for nearby communities, and the development and capitalization of TriEco Enviro, which Siphiwe Rakgabale owns and runs as an independent SME operator, for litter booms, clean-ups, waste collections and recycling.”

The booms have also added the benefit of trapping invasive species, like the exotic water hyacinth before they take root in waterways.

Joining in the fight against pollution is the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries which has pledged to implement a waste sorting and recycling program in one community per river.

One possibility being considered is the idea of “swop-shops” where community members can trade the recyclable litter for essentials, said Yazeed Petersen, a Project Manager from the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.

“Integrating these shops into the project will further encourage communities to become involved in litter collection,” he said.

The project is designed to help South Africa achieve its targets under Sustainable Development Goal 14.1, under which the country committed to preventing and reducing marine pollution by 2025, as well as Sustainable Development Goal 6.3 to improve water quality by 2030 through reducing pollution.

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