Apart from raising awareness and supporting clean-up initiatives by donating refuse bags, gloves and other equipment needed, this will also be the 25th year that Plastics SA will be coordinating South Africa’s participation in the International Coastal Clean-Up Day – the world’s biggest volunteer effort for ocean health.
“Clean-Up & Recycle SA Week has become a highlight on our country’s environmental calendar. This annual public awareness week is supported by all the packaging streams in South Africa and encourages citizens, corporates and municipalities to help remove all visible litter from our country’s neighbourhoods and streets, rivers, streams, beaches and oceans,” explains Douw Steyn, Plastics SA’s Sustainability Director.
Plastics SA is hoping that this year will see a repeat of the huge success of last year’s Clean-Up & Recycle SA Week. Despite the fact that COVID-19 restrictions prohibited the large groups at public clean-ups and gatherings that have become synonymous with this public awareness and volunteer effort, the spirit of camaraderie, positivity and willingness to make a difference in our environment, definitely made this one of the most memorable years.
“Like last year, we are one again advocating that South Africans be eco-warriors in their own neighbourhoods by picking up any litter on our beaches or strewn in streets, rivers, streams or canals. Where community clean-ups are planned, we urge the organisers to adhere to safety protocols by limiting the numbers of volunteers participating, ensuring that participants wear their masks, checking that they maintain social distancing and that enough sanitizing stations are in place,” Steyn said.
Highlights of the 2020 Clean-Up & Recycle SA Week included the launch of the Inkwazi Isu (Fish Eagle Project) by the KZN Marine Waste Network South Coast and the participation of Minister Barbara Creecy, Minister of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), in a beach clean-up at Dakota beach, Umbogintwini in KZN, where 697 bags were collected with a weight of over 2.4 tons.
In the Cape Provinces, several hundreds of kilometres of the country’s coastline were cleaned in more than 72 audited clean-ups, while several more non-audited, informal clean-ups took place during the week. Fifteen 4×4 clubs hosted their clean-ups, as did several diving groups who hosted underwater clean-ups. In the Cape Provinces, twenty tons of litter were removed, separated and sent for recycling on International Coastal Clean-Up Day alone!
“South Africa and the rest of the world continues to go through a very difficult period in our history as we are still trying to beat the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, riots and public disturbances. However, each year the Clean-Up & Recycle SA week manages to restore hope as South Africans of all ages and walks of life unite their efforts and volunteer their time and energy to help make South Africa a brighter, cleaner place for all!” Steyn concludes.