PET bottles used in barter scheme

The Rainbow Nation Recycling Club in Kini Bay outside Port Elizabeth is where the local children can exchange used PET bottles for credits. These can then be used to buy essentials and discounted day-to-day consumables from the swop shop.This little buy-back centre and a swop shop brings hope to the Clarendon Marine community.

Early in June PETCO donated a 9m container to this club.

The swop shop concept dates back to 2003 and can be replicated and adapted to meet the day-to-day needs of any community, explains Cheri Scholtz, CEO of PETCO, the PET Recycling Company.

“Swop shops have been successfully set up and run from schools, in community halls and are even operated from shipping containers like this one,” she adds: “We hope the container will provide much-needed storage space for this innovative club’s PET bottles. This will increase their handling capacity and revenue from sale of the bottles to the Waste Trade Company, a local waste management and collection company. The additional revenue should also enable them to purchase more stationery, food, toiletries, educational toys, books and clothing for the shop.”

This creative community development project is staffed by volunteers and supported by NGOs like PETCO and the Eastern Cape Branch of the Institute of Waste Management. It offers numerous benefits to the community and children in particular, in addition to the basic environmental and financial education value.

“Among other things, the project shows children the value of working towards something to earn benefits, encourages them to use their initiative, and also teaches them about responsibility,” says Penny Anderson, who champions the project and dedicates much of her time to run the club, mentor learners and assist the children with homework during the week.

The Rainbow Nation Recycling Club has been a part of the Waste Trade’s schools recycling programme since 2013, says Kay Hardy, GM of the Waste Trade Company.

This project encapsulates what the programme stands for: “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may not remember, involve me and I’ll understand.” We are delighted to be able to support them with collections as well as a rebate for their recyclables,’ she adds.

“Rainbows often symbolise a new era, hope, or social change, and for the small seaside community this rings true,’ adds Scholtz. “A sense of pride is instilled though projects such as this – and community members have the opportunity to see how valuable even the smallest contribution can be,” she concludes.

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