The Valuing Plastic Project

Why study plastic in Cape Town?

The leakage of plastic into oceans due to the mismanagement of waste on land is a global challenge. This is a problem for South Africa, ranked 11thin the world by mass of mismanaged plastic waste, where only 10% of waste is recycled and 90% of waste cooperatives fail. Sustainability is limited because economic benefits are given utmost importance, hinge on job creation, and assume participation by ‘township’ residents is conditional on remuneration. This project investigates what can be achieved if social, environmental and economic benefits are valued equally. The objectives are to compare the relative merits of plastic waste as a way to generate a sustainable income, raise awareness of the impact of consumption patterns on pollution, and challenge the social stigma of ‘township’ residents as too preoccupied by poverty to participate in environmental conservation. 

The original plan was to establish and evaluate a small-scale pilot recycling scheme in partnership with Eluvukweni Church in Crossroads, Cape Town. We established the scheme in January 2020 but put work on hold in March, which is yet to resume since the State of Disaster was declared on 15th March. This blog is a way of sharing the work done so far and the issues it raised, in the absence of being able to interact in person.

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