Recycling Heroes have it in the bag at the 2021 PETCO Awards

Meet the 13 recycling heroes and organisations who were awarded at this year’s PETCO Awards for their empowering impact on sustainability and for creating jobs.


Environmental Education and Awareness Initiative: Siya Ntsumpa, Giving Them Wings.  

The Giving Them Wings Foundation has established eco-clubs in 11 schools and one clinic in Nelson Mandela Bay. Thanks to the foundation, many kids have started food gardens and recycling in their own homes and neighbourhoods.

Ntsumpa is considered a big brother to many and now employs 6 permanent and 5 temporary staff.  

WATCH: Click here for a clip from the founder, Siya Ntsumpa.    

Top Woman in Collection and Recycling: Loretta Waterboer, LW Recycling and Trade.

Loretta Waterboer started LW Recycling and Trade in 2014, operating out of her backyard. Three years later, Garden Cities approached her to do recycling from their site yard.  

“My business is unique. In the whole Durbanville area, I’m the only woman recycler,” said Waterboer. “I’m proud of it and I’m proud of myself. I know I’m going to go very far.” 

WATCH: Click here to listen to the wise words of Loretta. 

Recycling Partnership Gamechanger: Joint Winner – Bordeaux South Homeowners Association and the African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO).  

Knowing and understanding that the reclaimers are here to help and that they contribute to a cleaner environment, Bordeaux resident, Angela Schaerer reached out to the ARO to see how both parties could work together.   

This is the first resident-reclaimer recycling initiative of its kind in the country and this partnership is advancing the circular economy.  

WATCH: See the joint winners.

Recycling Partnership Gamechanger: Joint Winner – GreenUP Project.

GreenUP is a successful public-private-people partnership between Distell, the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs & Development Planning, and the City of Cape Town. Many collectors can support themselves because of this project.    

“If we can encourage reuse, collection, recycling, job creation and empowerment of people, it tells a story that the circular economy is the way to go,” said Eric Leong Son, head of sustainability at Distell. 

WATCH: Click here to hear what the joint winners have to say. 

PET-repreneur: Joint Winner – Mandlenkosi Nkosi, Man Recycling.  

To earn a living, Mandlenkosi Nkosi and his wife began collecting recyclable material to sell in 2017. These days, the Man Recycling Buy-Back Centre in Boksburg operates from a secure building, collects over 18 tonnes of PET a month and employs 30 community members.  

Nkosi developed a WhatsApp group for those wanting to start a recycling business from scratch.  

WATCH: Click here to meet Mandlenkosi.

PET-repreneur: Joint Winner – Matsobane Mawasha   

Matsobane Mawasha started as a one-person show at Circular Green, picking up waste on the streets of Limpopo every day. In 2019, Circular Green collected almost 61 tonnes of PET plastic bottles.  

“I love the work that I do. It’s amazing to sleep at night knowing that you’ve changed someone’s life,” said Mawasha, who currently employs 11 community members. 

WATCH: Click here to see Matsobane’s journey unfold. 

Best Community Recycling Initiative: Joint Winner – The ReTrade Project. 

For founder and director Maria Grewar, the Re-Trade Project initiative is all about providing a hand up rather than a handout. 

Since 2014, community members of Nelson Mandela Bay are encouraged to bring in recyclables to the depot in exchange for essentials like food, toiletries and blankets. This initiative has greatly helped the local community to become aware of their waste, how to use it, clean it and sort it.

WATCH: Click here to view joint category winner of The Re-Trade Project.

Best Community Recycling Initiative: Joint Winner – The Bellville Pickers Project.   

The Bellville Recycling and Trolley Project facilitates access to recyclable waste, a more predictable income for community members and access to training.

“[Businesses] always used to look at us as [if we were] beggars, standing at the robot begging for money. With the trolley system, they respect us more.” said Albert Samuels, a reclaimer involved in the initiative. 

WATCH: Click here for the joint category winner from the Bellville Pickers Project.

Best New End-Use Products: Palletplast Pty (Ltd.)

Out-of-the-box thinkers at Palletplast are repurposing materials that are not traditionally recycled, converting them into pallets made from 97% rPET.  

The Palletplast team are diverting waste away from landfill by converting fully recyclable pallets that are stackable, easy to transport and truly cost-effective.

WATCH: Click here to hear what director of Palletplast, Christopher Smith, has to say about his innovative business model.  

Design for Circularity: Mpact Versapak.

Mpact Versapak’s thermoformed punnet is the first food-approved punnet in SA to be formulated completely from 100% post-consumer rPET.  

The company’s product is supporting a more circular economy in our country by ensuring that precious PET material is diverted from landfill to be reused and recycled into new and useful materials, maximising its value.   

WATCH: Click here for a short interview with the Mpact Versapak company. 

Media Spotlight: Pippa Hudson, Cape Talk Radio.

Tune into Cape Talk radio and you’ll hear why journalist Pippa Hudson is celebrated as one of our sustainability stars.

Her most notable work involves helping South African consumers to understand issues pertaining to waste reduction, reuse and recycling.

WATCH: Click here for a snippet with winner, Pippa.  

Local Authority Recycling Innovation: Joint Winner – City of Cape Town.

The City of Cape Town (CoCT) is speeding up recycling, championing SMMEs and driving economic development and growth. The outcome is cleaner communities and, importantly, job creation.  

The CoCT has also developed a recycling app to simplify access to waste exchange and promote private recycling services. 

WATCH: Click here for a short interview with joint winner, the City of Cape Town.

Local Authority Recycling Innovation: Joint Winner – The Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs (DARDLEA)    

“[Recycling] is helping people to put something on the table for their kids and family. Waste is not trash. Waste can give them food. Waste can give them jobs. You can be an entrepreneur yourself,” said DARDLEA environmental officer, Linah Ndala. 

WATCH: Click here for an interview with DARDLEA. 

If you would like to kick-start your recycling career, find out more on the PETCO Website, or visit PETCO’s Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp on 060 070 2077. 

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