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South Africa's Game Changer in Plastic Waste Management: Homes Built From Waste in Khayelitsha

Published September 25, 2023
9 months ago

A rise in plastic waste pollution in South Africa has been countered by an innovative initiative in Khayelitsha. Powered by Western Cape's Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in collaboration with various private sector agents, the iThemba Phakama 4Ps project repurposes plastic waste into a viable construction material, providing more sustainable housing in the Cape Town township.

South Africa generates approximately 2.4 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, with only approximately 14% recycled, says the World Wildlife Fund. This new initiative aims to chip away at this alarming statistic by incentivising no-fee schools to participate in waste collection schemes, which to date has resulted in over 16,000kg of plastic waste collected.

The Centre for Regenerative Design and Collaboration (CRDC), one of the project participants, operates a "Bag That Builds" programme that turns collected waste into a fine dust known as RESIN8 - employed in the manufacture of bricks, pipes, pavers and kerbstones. CRDC's plant can process an impressive 610 tonnes of plastic waste each month at full capacity, indirectly benefiting over 500 people in the locality as waste collectors and reclaimers.

The innovative and more sustainable concrete products are used by construction company Bitprop to build homes in Ilitha Park, Khayelitsha, creating a vibrant circular economy in the heart of the township. By doing so, not only is the plastic waste problem addressed, but the venture also creates local employment opportunities, serving as a remarkable case of boosting socio-economic conditions through environmental initiatives.

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