While INEOS invests significant resources in being the most responsible producer of plastic it can be, the company is well aware that the global challenges around managing plastic waste need to be addressed by the whole planet. Complex national and regional waste management infrastructure issues need tackling through collective international action. Together, we must prevent plastic ending up where it shouldn’t.
INEOS is striving to improve the recyclability of its products in many ways- including through public education. It is actively seeking partners to work with in this area- and has in the past year been trialling a new primary school education programme in challenged townships in South Africa to teach children about responsible waste management.
Working with Caroline Hughes of INEOS SA and charity marketing consultancy [dot]GOOD, INEOS ran a pilot challenge for 10 primary schools in the Western Cape area around Cape Town to collect the most plastic, glass, cans and paper for a chance to win about €3,000. “The idea was to turn what is perceived as a chore into a fun habit,” said Caroline “And also to show the children that waste has value.”
The schools chosen to take part in this “Trash 4 Treats” pilot were first briefed by a local recycling company, Waste Want, which would help to weigh and dispose of the rubbish collected. Rubbish mascot Trashy issued starter kits to each child to show what could and couldn’t be recycled.
After the competition ended, the 13,094 children had collected 5328kg of waste in just seven weeks. The total included 1110 kg of plastic. That’s the same weight as 3.75 black rhinos!
The winning school was Mitchells Heights Primary, which amassed 1519kg of recyclable waste. “I have noticed a big difference in our learners since we started Trash 4 Treats,” said a teacher. “They now take pride in their school grounds and berate others who litter. It has been wonderful to witness children take an active interest in caring for their environment. We have started a clean revolution at Mitchells.”
All the schools plan to continue their involvement with the recycling local centre, which pays for the rubbish. Caroline said the recycled plastic was especially in demand locally. “Many of the teachers and children were amazed to discover what happens to plastic bottles that are recycled,” she said.
For Caroline and the team at INEOS, the biggest benefit has been a change in mindset. “Many of the children simply didn’t know why rubbish was a problem,” said Caroline. “But the hope is that now – having seen the financial and environmental benefits of managing their waste – these children will continue to keep their neighbourhoods tidy.”
Next year, INEOS plans to develop Trash 4 Treats and take its popular mascot Trashy to more schools in South Africa.