The commendation received by the Inner-City Cardboard Recycling Project at the AfriSam-South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) in October this year was lauded as a great achievement for eThekwini Municipality by journalist Themba Khumalo. This was captured in his article titled “Recycling for the Future” featured in local newspapers, Metro Ezasegagasini in the 9-22 November 2012 issue and the Mercury Network on 14 November 2011. The demonstration project was a commission by the City’s Imagine Durban Project, and designed and implemented by Asiye eTafuleni (AeT).
“The awards were set up to recognise outstanding achievement in sustainable architecture in South Africa and to create public awareness and debate on architectural issues…
AeT’s was the only project that was not a building which was among four other projects that received awards this year. Imagine Durban’s Bongomusa Zondo said: ‘Winning such an award has really inspired us and all involved in the Project to see the possibilities despite the challenges that we as a Municipality may be facing around waste minimisation. This further provides energy for small-scale demonstration projects which are meant to develop innovative ways of dealing with service delivery.’”
What is pertinent about the comment by Bongumusa Zondo cited above is that this Project has been highlighting the possibilities within the informal recycling sector as a waste minimisation and green economy intervention. This has been best demonstrated through the testing of the pilot project. In AeT’s view, being able to implement and integrate short-term pilot projects with local government programmes enables the flexibility to test new ideas that are appropriate to informal workers’ needs. Concurrently, this assists in better informing the long-term institutional structures and policies of the municipality so that they are responsive.
The benefits of an integrated partnership with local government and other relevant stakeholders has the following benefits:
- It provides the opportunity to test ideas that do not exist in local government. Therefore by securing additional resources in the form of supplementary skills within the less familiar development area of the informal economy, it exposes all parties to innovation and ideas;
- It enables cost-effective urban management where less resources are needed for security and cleaning;
- It can counter non-productive programmes and mitigate perceptions of informal recyclers undermining private and local government programmes;
- It optimizes the full benefits of sustainability, at the economic, environmental and social levels.
The Project has increasingly been recognised locally and nationally as an emerging best practice, with strong signals towards up scaling and extending similar research and implementation programmes to other areas within the municipality.
At the national level for instance, eThekwini Municipality was recently titled the “Greenest Municipality” in South Africa in a competition run by the Department of Environmental Affairs at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg in November 2012. Formerly known as the Cleanest Town Competition, this has been modified to encompass a broader set of factors such as recycling, climate change planning, energy conservation and biodiversity conservation.
Therefore Projects of this nature are advancing eThekwini Municipality’s efforts and aspirations towards being greener and enabling sustainable urban development.