Pupils in Gauteng are learning the value of recycling as they witness their used and cleaned yoghurt tubs be converted into much-needed resources such as desks and bricks to build classrooms.
Two initiatives, led by Danone Southern Africa, focus on reaching pupils aged 7-13 in township primary schools, and encourage them to collect, clean and bring their used yoghurt tubs to school.
In 2021, the One Desk One Child programme donated 500 desks made from recycled yoghurt tubs to 100 schools in the Gauteng region. Over 19 tons of plastic were diverted from landfill through the collection of over 86 000 yoghurt tubs.
Corporate affairs manager at Danone Southern Africa, Leanne Kiezer, says this year through the Tubs2Classrooms programme they aim to collect enough yoghurt tubs to produce the bricks to build two classrooms.
“Each classroom requires approximately 200 000 yoghurt tubs. So to achieve our goal to build two classrooms in 2022, we would need to collect almost half a million yoghurt tubs. This is five times the number of tubs we collected in 2021,” she said.
The programme is set to extend across three provinces: Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
Kiezer said together these two projects will reach over 135 000 pupils.
Yoghurt tubs are made from high impact polystyrene, and while this material is recyclable, it is extremely light in weight, resulting in a low incentive for collection.
“By giving this material a valuable second-life purpose, we are hoping to create a value chain which will stimulate its collection as part of household recycling,” she said.
Upcycling partners, including Envirolite, Infinite Industries and ExtruWood, repurpose the plastic yoghurt tubs and other waste polystyrene into bricks and desks.
“We implore corporate South Africa to get involved in these initiatives and join us on a journey towards real change,” said Kiezer.