Tackling plastic pollution in South Africa

An initiative called Project Butterfly is helping to tackle the problem of plastic waste in the townships of South Africa.

Introduced in 2017 in Tembisa, Johannesburg and now also active in Durban, Project Butterfly works with non-profit organizations and local communities to tackle poor waste management through education, clean-ups and innovation-focused initiatives.

In 2018, Project Butterfly teamed up with the Wildtrust, a leading South African environmental NGO that helps local people become ‘wastepreneurs’, to generate income through the collection and exchange of recyclable waste.

To date, more than 715 ‘wastepreneurs’ have participated in the initiative, playing a vital role in the plastics value chain by ensuring that waste reaches the Wildlands Recycling Depot.

Chemicals company Dow, who is behind Project Butterfly, is also funding the expansion of Wildtrust’s recycling villages, which includes collection points in schools, shopping centres and other public areas that allow consumers to more easily recycle waste.

These villages facilitate the collection of an estimated 1.2 million kilograms of waste each year from more than 10,000 South African homes.

Project Butterfly is also helping Wildlands convert unrecyclable plastics into recyclable materials that can be used for green buildings and fuel.

‘Plastic pollution is one of the most significant environmental challenges facing South Africa today,’ said Dr. Andrew Venter, CEO of the Wildtrust.

‘By educating and engaging with local communities about proper waste management, organizing clean-ups and creating green economy employment opportunities, Project Butterfly is helping to create a more sustainable future for our country and the planet,’ he added.

Dow has launched Project Butterfly in other African countries, including Nigeria and Kenya and is set to expand further in 2019.

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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