Limpopo- On Tuesday, December 5th we were glad to receive visitors at our recycling centre in Senwabarwana. These visitors were from SEED, Flanders Government and the IDC. This visit was planned on the back of our Thinana Cooperative receiving a SEED Award (South Africa) in 2015, having been identified as an exceptional social and environmental start up enterprise. The visit aimed to track on the progress that the project has made since receiving the award two years ago. For us, it was a welcomed move as this enabled the donors to directly interact with the beneficiaries, and also witness firsthand how the enterprise operates on a day to day basis. The cooperative’s treasurer, Mrs Violet Selota had this personal message to say to our visitors: “Before the P.E.A.C.E. Foundation came to work with us, we used to operate from the local dumpsite without any protective clothing or a place to store our collected waste. We never knew how and what waste materials to sort, and we always got ripped off by buyers as we never knew what was a fair price to be paid for our collected waste. But thanks to the P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, we now have a business of our own through the recycling centre. We can see a marked change from where we were 5 years ago to where we are today. We now even have our own business truck, which gives us a competitive advantage over the other waste collectors around here.” To these remarks, we can only say, it makes all our efforts worthwhile.
About Thinana Cooperative and the recycling centre
The cooperative was founded in 2009 and registered in 2010 by the Blouberg Local Municipality. The cooperative is an all women led initiative, with 5 women, and employs the direct services of 5 additional personnel at the centre. Before the P.E.A.C.E. Foundation’s intervention, the cooperative operated from the Senwabarwana dumpsite, with no protective clothing or access to markets. Today, the cooperative is able to recycle between 5-10 tonnes of mixed waste materials monthly. Apart from creating 10 permanent jobs at the recycling centre, the cooperative also created 35 temporary jobs in the form of casual waste collectors stations at 6 different villages. Our unique selling point is the use of donkey carts to collect waste materials in villages where the municipality is not collecting waste. This works in tandem with how the cooperative also uses trolleys on foot and a vehicle that covers areas beyond an 8km radius. Apart from the SEED Award, the cooperative and recycling centre won the Bronze Award at the Eco-Logic Awards (2017) under the Recycling and Waste Management Sector. They also won the 2016 PETCO Award for the best Community Upliftment project.