Aurecon’s Tshwane recycling centre reduces waste to landfill
Charlotte Mpenyana, Aurecon Regional Manager for Quality, Environment and Sustainability – Africa
05 June 2019 – As we celebrate World Environment Day, Aurecon’s Tshwane recycling centre is helping to lower the amount of waste going to landfill but also providing employment and other benefits to the community.
In 2018, Tshwane mayoral spokesperson Samkelo Mgobozi said that if no alternative waste disposal sites are developed, the city will run out of landfill space in five years’ time. The metro hasn’t developed any new landfill sites since 2000 to cope with the growing population of the city. In March 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Good Green Deeds campaign and during the launch, he said the waste sector has the potential to create 69 000 new jobs and empower more SSMEs and cooperatives.
Meeting the City of Tshwane’s call for corporates and the community to separate waste at source, global engineering and infrastructure advisory company, Aurecon launched a recycling centre at its 4 star rated Green Building head office in Tshwane, in 2017. A proactive focus on sustainability is a core feature of Aurecon’s culture and approach to problem solving.
Aurecon Regional Manager for Quality, Environment and Sustainability – Africa, Charlotte Mpenyana, comments: “In line with our ongoing development of waste control initiatives, the Aurecon Tshwane offices established a recycling centre to lower our impact on the environment and assist government in reducing waste in Tshwane. Since the recycling sorting facility was launched in August 2017, we have not only reduced our waste to landfill sites but transformed the centre into an income-generating mechanism,” says Mpenyana.
Setting up a sustainable recycling centre at no cost
In 2014, Aurecon partnered with IT lifecycle management company Xperien to assist with the safe disposal of the company’s IT equipment. The residual value of that equipment was used to set up the recycling centre, which now funds itself and provides full-time employment for one person.
“By forming additional partnerships with various other recycling specialists, our recycling centre has already saved about 42 tonnes of waste from landfill sites. Collect-a-Can has collected about 213 kg of steel and aluminium cans,” says Mpenyana.
The recycling centre is only one of the many sustainability initiatives at Aurecon’s Tshwane Office. From doing away with disposable coffee cups and placing recycling bins all over the office, Mpenyana and her team are continually looking for ways that we can produce less waste or use our waste for something productive.
“We stopped using plastic stirrers in our kitchens. Employees use our recycling bins to make sure that the waste that goes to the recycling centre can easily be sorted. We also donate bottle caps to the Sweethearts Foundation, which donates wheelchairs to those in need. For every 450 kg of bottle caps, one wheelchair is donated.,” says Mpenyana.
Transforming the mindset about waste
She explains that the recycling centre is as much about reusing and reducing waste as it is about educating people about the basics of sustainability.
“We are determined to make sure that our recycling centre continues to be a sustainability legacy which educates people on the importance of waste management, while at the same time providing employment and other environmental benefits. Thanks to the prominence given to the recycling centre, Aurecon’s employees are reducing, reusing and recycling waste every day,” concludes Mpenyana.
Aurecon helped fund the conversion of an aircraft into a laboratory for Sakhikamva to support young South Africans’ interest in Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Aerospace and Mathematics (STREAM) subjects.