Plastics|SA Clean-up Crews keep Cape Town Beautiful during major races

The Plastics|SA Clean-Up Crew was tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the routes and surrounding areas for three of Cape Town’s biggest spectator events were kept clean and litter-free.

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For the 10th consecutive year, Plastics|SA’s Sustainability Manager, John Kieser, coordinated three clean-up crews to quickly and effectively pick up all waste generated by athletes and spectators who attended the Cape Town Cycle Tour (CTCT) (which was unfortunately cancelled due to high winds), SA Navy Festival which took place from the 17th to the 19th of March and the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half and Ultra Marathons that took place on the 14th and 15th of April respectively.

A feather in the cap for the plastics industry

“These three events took place during March and April, and attracted thousands of visitors from around the country and the rest of the world who descended on the Mother City. It was no small task to ensure that all the water and energy drink sachets used by the athletes and the litter strewn by the spectators were picked up as quickly as possible and with as little disruption to the events or the traffic,” Kieser explained. This year, Plastics|SA was given the full responsibility of greening the events, and once again partnered with waste management company WastePlan to ensure that all recyclable material collected was sent away for recycling.

More than 39 000 kg of waste was collected by the three Plastics|SA Clean-Up Crews that cleaned up the routes used by the athletes during the recent Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, as well as left behind by visitors to the annual SA Navy Festival and the cancelled Cape Town Cycle Tour.

According to Douw Steyn, Director: Sustainability at Plastics|SA, the majority of the waste collected during these annual events is made up of plastic, which has a high recycling value.

“We work hard to ensure that this packaging is kept out of the environment and off the streets by employing a clean-up crew of 205 cleaners from Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Athlone.  Many of the members of these clean-up crews have been working with us for the past 10 years on race days, and are trained to quickly and effectively sweep the areas”.

Steyn remarked that it was clear from this year’s events that athletes and spectators had a heightened awareness of the importance of not littering and keeping their environmental footprint as small as possible.

“The organizers of this year’s Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon did an excellent job with their #GOGREEN anti-littering campaign that was launched prior to the race.  Runners were aware of their responsibility to help us keep the routes as clean as possible by making use of the Throw Zones for their water and energy drink sachets, which greatly assisted the efforts of our clean-up crews. Our waste management partner, Wasteplan, recorded the volumes of the mixed recycling that was collected after the races and that will be transformed into at least 500 school desks for needy schools in and around Cape Town,” Steyn says.

The Plastics|SA Clean-Up crews were also responsible for collecting the waste generated by spectators attending the SA Navy Festival and the Cape Town Cycle Tour in March.  “Although the cycle race was cancelled due to extremely windy conditions, our teams were hard at work prior to the race day and after break-up by the maintenance crews to ensure that the roads were left litter-free.  Large volumes of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), aluminium cooldrink cans and Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) were also collected by the clean-up crews at the SA Navy Festival.

“We look back at two very busy, but very rewarding months. Under the guidance of Plastics|SA’s Sustainability Manager, John Kieser, our crews did a phenomenal job of collecting the waste and raising awareness about the importance of recycling.  We applaud the organizers of all three events for their pro-active approach to waste management and event greening,” Steyn concludes.

“Over the years, the active and visible involvement of the Plastics|SA clean-up team and the PETCO branded bins and truck at these events has helped to create an awareness of the plastics industry’s dedication to ensuring that the waste footprint is kept as small as possible,” Kieser said.  Each year, several truckloads of plastic waste are collected and sent away to the Kraaifontein Material Recovering Facility (MRF) for recycling, whilst food waste is sent to Noordhoek for composting.

The unsung heroes of event greening

The majority of the waste collected during these events is plastic waste, which has a high recycling value.  The City of Cape Town played a major role in boosting the clean-up efforts by ensuring that the routes for these annual events were cleaned prior to the race days.

“Both the cycle race and the marathon have various refreshment stations where close to 20 000 bags each are handed out to the athletes. The SA Navy Festival saw up to 50 000 people visiting the harbour per day. On top of this, the weather at these events also played a big role, as the notorious Cape winds present their own set of challenges for the waste collectors,” Kieser said.

Advertising campaign to support the clean-up efforts

Whilst the clean-up crews were busy cleaning the roads, Plastics|SA was supporting their efforts with an extensive marketing campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of keeping our environment clean, spreading anti-littering and recycling messages.

A great deal still needs to be done to educate the public about littering and responsible participation in large events. Our “event greening” not only provides a much-needed service to the City of Cape Town and event organisers, but also offers us a highly visible platform to showcase the Sustainability Council’s commitment to waste management and recycling. To this end, we supported the clean-up efforts with a print ad campaign that appeared in selected in-flight and trade magazines, as well as on a large billboard at the Cape Town International Airport.

Our pay-off line for the campaign was: “When YOU recycle, we all win” and appealed to all the cyclists,athletes and other visitors to Cape Town during the past two months to help keep the Mother City beautiful.

Radio and TV adverts (view on YouTube) and on-air interviews were heard on local Cape Town radio stations, including KFM, Smile FM, Heart FM, Radio Tygerberg and CCFM during the months of February, March and April, whilst Plastics|SA also exhibited at the Green Point Stadium, the Navy Festival in Simonstown and at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

10 second Event Greening (English)

I can be so much more (English) 

Ek kan soveel meer wees (Afrikaans)

“We are very excited and proud to be part of these events and take the responsibility that has been given to us very seriously.  We aim to improve on previous years’ successes and recycling rates,” Kieser concludes.