Pushing the environmental agenda forward

ABI- Recycling heroesInnovative partnerships are proving a key in tapping into the power of recycling. This is true of ABI’s Schools Recycling Programme (SRP). The programme is creating a cycle of environmental responsibility in needy communities thanks to the commitment of its young ARRs: ABI Recycling Representatives.

ABI’s Schools Recycling Programme raises awareness about the importance of waste management and recycling amongst learners in regions where the company has presence. Created as a competition, participating schools are challenged to keep their surrounding environment clean through waste collection and recycling. Education is a key part of enabling this process, with ARRs playing a crucial role in the programme – acting as intermediaries between the schools and ABI.

‘At the start of each year participating schools commit to collecting a minimum of 1 000kg of PET per month,’ explains Gaopaleloe Mothoagae, ABI’s sustainable development manager. ‘They then become eligible to win prizes and recognition for their efforts at our annual Schools Recycling Awards. Volumes are key however – which is where the ARRs come in. They are tasked with mobilising collection of recyclable material at the schools, encouraging performance, monitoring and evaluation, as well as creating healthy competition between schools in the regions.’

Community involvement is a critical part of the process, as former ARR and one of ABI’s youth recycling heroes Dimpho Nare explains. ‘As an ARR, it’s your responsibility to transform the teachers and learners at your school into recycling advocates. They need to get behind the message – and take it home and into the community. This means you have to show them the value of what they’re doing, and that every bottle they recycle counts.’

Since its inception, the ABI Schools Recycling Programme has seen remarkable developments in the waste disposal space. Many of these can be attributed to the commitment of the ARRs and the over 350 000 learners who have made this programme what it is today. With partnerships between corporate South Africa and young entrepreneurs having a critical role to play in shaping the country and developing the leaders of tomorrow, programmes like ABI’s SRP are demonstrating the value of starting at grassroots level.