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Durban businesses collaborate on a solution to hazardous illegal dumping in uMngeni River

Tons of waste are regularly dumped into Durban’s Umgeni River every year, impacting the water quality and posing health threats to wildlife, fisherfolk, paddlers and others who use the river daily. A major contributor to this excessive waste is illegal dumping, a problem that a group of concerned stakeholders are addressing as part of World Clean-up and International Coastal Clean-Up campaigns in September.

Reefer Cold Storage, a business operating alongside Umgeni River, noticed illegal dumping taking place alongside the river and were spurred to action. Reefer has subsequently spearheaded the clean-up campaign alongside non-profit organisation (NPO), Adopt a River.

This large-scale operation has also welcomed several stakeholders, including BMS Foods (Bluff Meat Supply), Multiquip, AlcoNCP and eThekwini Municipality. The team will work together to, not only address the existing waste, but restore the land and put in place measures to prevent further dumping.

“We have identified numerous cases of illegal dumping over the years, including the misuse of the park area adjacent to Umgeni River,” explained Stamatis ‘kapsi’ Kapsimalis, CEO and owner of Reefer Cold Storage. “It was evident the threat it posed to the environment, as well as the hazard it brought to the businesses in the area as well, but nothing was being done about it.”

Kapsimalis explained that’s when they got in touch with Janet Simpkins of Adopt a River to assist. This NPO focuses on rivers and environmental spaces in KZN, connecting with like-minded groups to address the many river health issues for each community. They partner with individuals, agencies and corporates with a shared environmental passion, working together to create sustainable differences in these threatened environments.

“Through much effort and negotiating, Janet and her team have organised week-long clean-up, with our focus being on the Willowfield Crescent Rejuvenation,” continued Kapsimalis. “We’re encouraging other corporates to get on board and consider contributing to this far-reaching cause.”

Commenting on their involvement, Janet Simpkins said: “We were called in to assist with the illegal dumping as the corporates operating in the area were concerned about the environment. Hand-in-hand we’ve followed due process and worked with the municipality to resolve this the best way we all can. This is a culmination of how effectively municipalities, corporates and NPOs can work together.”

The river clean-up campaign’s short-term goal is the week-long clean-up of the riverside area between Connaught Bridge and the footbridge along Willowfield Road of waste and alien invasives. However, the plan is to take this further by establishing a permanent team to conserve and maintain the area as an ecologically friendly environment, while creating awareness about the dangers of environmental pollution. Communities and businesses would be encouraged to monitor and report on any challenges, such as illegal dumping so that measures can be taken.

Businesses that are interested in sponsoring Adopt a River will enjoy significant benefits, including meeting corporate social investment requirements, qualifying for tax deductions, media exposure, team branding rights and showcasing a commitment to community upliftment and conservation.

Communities are encouraged to come out and join the clean-up efforts on 17 September. 

To find out more, visit: Reefer Cold Storage: www.reefercoldstorage.co.za; Adopt a River: www.adoptariversa.org; BMS Foods: www.bluffmeatsupply.co.za; Multiquip: www.multiquip.co.za; and AlcoNCP: www.alconcp.com.

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