Paper And Paper Packaging Sector Help Curb The Spread Of Covid-19 For Mandela Day

From 15-17 July 2020, 1500 recycling collectors received care packs as part of a Mandela Day initiative by the South African paper and paper packaging sector. The activations took place in Springs, Ekurhuleni, serving people in Daggafontein, Never Never and Everest informal settlements.

Fibre Circle, the producer responsibility organisation for the paper and paper packaging sector, the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) and its recycling arm RecyclePaperZA invested a combined R600,000 to deliver handwashing units, soap, cloth masks, food vouchers, children’s activity packs and blankets to 1500 waste collectors in Springs, east of Johannesburg. ‘This initiative fitted perfectly with the 2020 theme #ActionAgainstPoverty,’ said project coordinator Anele Sololo, speaking on behalf of the three organisations.

Informal recycling collectors recover a significant amount of recyclables from households and office curbsides, often travelling long distances with the laden trolleys to buy-back centres.

‘The effects of Covid-19, lockdown, the winter months and lack of access to water for handwashing has exacerbated the plight of so many people, in particular informal recycling collectors, who live hand to mouth,’ noted Sololo. ‘With handwashing being the first line of defence against the spread of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, we are also trying to improve access to simple handwashing facilities at people’s homes,’ she explained.

‘Collectors all received a handwashing unit – a South African innovation developed by Envirosan. It comprises a plastic bracket that holds an upside-down two-litre soft drink bottle, fitted with a valve. The bracket can be mounted onto a pole or wall and the bottle can be filled at the closest tap. ‘We also showed them how to use the unit properly,’ added Sololo.

The activity booklet contains colouring and puzzle pages for children to keep them busy while also educating caregivers and youngsters about COVID-19 and how to curb the spread of the virus.

Call to action for South Africans to stay safe and donate

The initiative also called upon citizens to donate an amount of their choice so they can stay safe while doing their bit this Mandela Day. As of Monday 21 July, the public fundraising and awareness campaign had raised just more than R25,000 from citizen and corporate donations, towards a R30 000 target. ‘We are immensely grateful to everyone who supported this initiative,’ said Sololo. ‘We are especially grateful to two of our members for their sizeable donations to this cause.’ The link will remain open until 31 July for people to contribute.

Sololo shares some of the highlights of the three days: ‘The community, especially the ‘Gogos’, were so grateful for our presence, and that the parcels included a food voucher. We are indebted to our team on the ground, which comprised unemployed young people, as well as Arles Baloyi, the Community Policing Forum, Springs SAPS and station commander Brigadier Thembeka Gwebushe. Their coordination and presence ensured that we worked with no disturbances.’

The three organisations made use of [dot]GOOD, a marketing agency that really makes difference. It is a level 2 B-BBEE service provider and a portion of proceeds go towards supporting the education of underprivileged female youth. ‘We are grateful for their warm professionalism, guidance and involvement,’ concluded Sololo.