10 years of Cleanups at Big Events

Plastics|SA and PETCO are most certainly ‘greening’ major events in 2016, creating awareness of the mountains of litter generated at big events such as the Cape Argus Cycle Race and the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, and encouraging effective clean-up campaigns during and after the events.  Their efforts were greatly bolstered by the City of Cape Town who ensured a thorough pre-event clean-up of the main route and the sides of the roads by making use of an incredible collection of various technology driven machinery.

This year’s Two Oceans Marathon attracted almost 30 000 athletes – that’s a lot of water sachets to keep track of!  This was the job of John Kieser, Sustainability Manager at Plastics|SA, PETCO and the team of 205 workers who, despite light rain and moderate winds,  faced the task with the usual vigor and dedication for the full 12 days.  Many of the team also assisted with the Argus Cycle Race which took place early in March.  The use of designated “chuck zones” and friendly rivalry between members of the clean-up teams to see who could collect the most litter, made light work of the day’s  efforts.

The discarded green sachets handed out at the Two Oceans Marathon proved to be the most problematic item during the event.  Each refreshment point receives 20 000 bags and our team maintained the route between these 23 stations.  Do the sums…  Refuse bags that had been used as raincoats and later discarded,  also littered the start of the ultra and half marathons and had to be removed.

In total, 9 truckloads of plastic waste were removed!

The positive spinoff was that clothing  was also discarded along the route which proved a windfall for the team. We collected 16 refuse bags filled with t-shirts, jackets and tracksuit tops which will all be distributed to needy members of the community.  It was obvious that there is still much room for education of the public in terms of littering and responsible participation in such events.

Our next challenge is the SA Navy Festival which takes place in Simonstown Harbour from 21 to 24 April 2016.  John will once again do presentations to the new intake of servicemen on the ‘clean sea/clean ship’  mentality, highlighting  the need for the material generated on the various vessels (big ships often have compactors) to be compacted and returned to the harbour for recycling.

In the past the SANDF used  old fishing vessels for target practices.  The walls of these vessels house large pieces of polystyrene and when shot at, these  plastic pieces used to float away and become a marine debris issue.  Thanks to John Kieser, they now remove the EPS and other plastics before using the vessels as targets, avoiding further marine contamination and litter.

This Event is also sure to showcase the plastics industry’s commitment to waste management and recycling.  Material generated at the event will either be recycled or composted.  Sorting will be done on site and transported to Waste Plan MRF in Kraaifontein for recycling.  Food waste will be composted in Noordhoek.

2016 MTB 009Bright red litter bins (sponsored by PETCO) were strategically placed at the hospitality tent and at various points for Saturday’s Mountain Bike Race. 2016 MTB 013Visible collection bins for litter at this year’s Pick n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Race.



12924559_1072098559478755_7545247072100873849_nThe team who cleaned up at the Two Oceans Marathon.

“We are excited about being involved in these big sporting events as we see it as an ideal opportunity to educate the public and the athletes about the importance of recycling their plastic, and being able to demonstrate practically our commitment to ensuring that plastic litter does not end up in our environment.  They keep on inviting us back, which means that the organisers see a benefit in the work that we do!” Kieser concludes.