“To change the way society handles waste, we have to effectively change the mindset of an entire generation,” says Gaopaleloe Mothoagae, sustainable development manager at ABI. A force for change at over 400 South African schools, Mothoagae is RẽSource’s Sustainability Hero this month.
Beverage giant ABI’s Schools Recycling Programme has been ongoing for many years in South Africa under the Coca-Cola Company banner. Then, in 2010, the company realised that the nature of the competition didn’t live up to its full potential to foster long-term commitment to recycling among school children.
“The kids were collecting cans and whoever collected the most would win prizes, but after the competition ended, those involved would return to their old behaviors,” explains Mothoagae.
At that time, ABI was changing its own outlook on waste management and recycling as a response to the Waste Management Act, which placed the onus on everyone involved in an end-product’s value-chain.
“For us, this meant we had to ensure that the maximum amount of waste being produced by the company was diverted from landfill. A once-off competition was no longer enough and we decided to use our brand’s status as a vehicle for improving education about recycling in a more lasting way,” says Mothoagae.