WATCH: Recycling superstars recognised

Fourteen plastic recycling champions across 11 competition categories were announced at the 2019 PETCO Awards, which celebrate people and organisations making strides in sustainability at grassroots level in South Africa.

The national plastic industry body’s PET Recycling Company (PETCO) paid tribute to the efforts of the companies and individuals making a difference to the South African environment through their wide-ranging initiatives related to plastic recycling.

The winners for 2019 are:

PET-trepreneur of the Year
Makhabisi Recycling and Trading Co (Gauteng) &
Nzima Recycle Centre (Eastern Cape)

Excellence in Academia
Takunda Chitaka, University of Cape Town (Western Cape) &
Melanie Samson, University of the Witwatersrand (Gauteng)

Waste Reduction Youth Warrior
Rotondwa Musitha, Trash Converters (Limpopo) &
Rocco Antonio Da Silva, The Future Kids Club (Western Cape)

Recycling Partnership Game-changer
Fair Cape Dairies (Western Cape)

Recycled Product of the Year
Corruseal (Western Cape)

Best Community Breakthrough Initiative
Angels Resource Centre (Northern Cape)

Top Woman in Recycling
Jocelyn Van Der Ross, Green Spot Recycling (Western Cape)

Public Campaign of the Year
Thrive (Western Cape)

Local Authority Recycling Innovation
Drakenstein Municipality (Western Cape)

Media Spotlight
Wendy Knowler (Western Cape)

CEO Special Award
John Kieser, Environmental Manager, Plastics SA (Western Cape)

Meet the winners

Watch below to see how these fascinating people and organisations are impacting their spheres of influence through their dedication to work which benefits the environment:

“Big up to the hustle,” acknowledges Rotondwa Musitha, MD of Trash Converters in Louis Trichardt, Limpopo. She was inspired by the social responsibility and environmental management module of her post graduate degree in business administration, which sparked a passion for recycling.


Fair Cape Dairies embarked on a journey to package their milk in clear recyclable bottles, which are also made from 50% recycled plastic.


The Boksburg-based Makhabisi Recycling and Trading was founded by Anna Hartebeest in 2007, and the buyback centre now employs 60 people, who sort and grind 200 tonnes of plastic preforms and 60 tonnes of sorting bales such as PET, HDPP and PVC per month.


The Nzima Recycle Centre in Humansdorp in the Eastern Cape reminds us of the important role of commitment, mentorship and support when it comes to starting and growing a business.


Packaging manufacturer Corruseal now uses only locally sourced and recycled PET strapping sourced from Cape Town based supplier Propet, and emphasises that quality and cost savings are always at the core of business decisions so sustainable products should meet these requirements as well.


Through the Angels Resource Centre in De Aar in the Northern Cape Eddie Kampher set up a waste management and recycling platform for communities the area. He highlights the importance of constant learning and the power of collaboration.


Nine-year-old Rocco da Silva started the Future Kids Club that does beach clean-ups once a month, creating awareness and a sense of responsibility among the youth in Strand. The weighing of collected waste to be taken for recycling looks like a competitive endeavor!


“Persevere. Don’t go and crawl into a hole when things don’t work out,” says Jocelyn van der Ross of Green Spot Recycling in Franschhoek, whose business, which now employs 15 staff, has started from scratch three times after fires destroyed everything.


Thrive Hout Bay works with local schools to adopt more sustainable practices and rewards the greenest schools for their efforts. It connects them with buy-back businesses for the collection of recyclables separated by the students, which allows the school to generate additional income.


Takunda Chitaka is a PhD Candidate in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town. She believes that decisions we make should be underpinned by good science and good research, and her beach accumulating surveys since 2016 have shown how the composition of litter has changed. She hopes her research will inform the way forward for the plastics economy in South Africa.


Dr. Melanie Samson is a senior lecturer in human geography at Wits University. She is working with the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Science and Technology on developing guidelines for waste-picker integration. Informal reclaimers see themselves as the last line of defence before rubbish hits landfills, and according to the CSIR, they save municipalities up to R748-million a year in landfill space and play a huge role in South Africa’s improving recycling rates.


Drakenstein Municipality in the Western Cape has transformed the Wellington landfill site from a problem area into a safer recycling operation providing income for 30 entrepreneurs.


Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler uses her platforms to research and educate consumers as well as to expose and hold retailers and manufacturers to account when their recycling claims are not adding up.

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