USE-IT's MD Chris Whyte (left) with Lindsay Strachan (right) from the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa. Picture: Supplied.

USE-IT’s MD Chris Whyte (left) with Jan Labuschagne (right) CEO of Averda. Picture: Supplied.

Jan Labuschagne, CEO of Averda

A South African waste management NGO, USE-IT, recently attained international recognition at The Circulars 2017, an event recognising contributions to the circular economy in the private and public sectors, and society.

The Durban-based NGO was selected as was one of six finalists in the ‘AB InBev Award for Circular Economy Governments, Cities and Regions’ category.

Although USE-IT did not win the award, its MD Chris Whyte said it was an honour to be selected as a finalist for this prestigious award alongside other finalists.

Whyte described the selection as “somewhat daunting for our small South African-based NGO”, and added that “we (USE-IT) can hold our heads high, knowing that our achievements and results with our very limited resources would be the envy of many other global agencies or initiatives”.

Other finalists included the Scottish Government, the UK’s Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the China Association of Circular Economy (CACE), Circle Economy from the Netherlands, and the Simon Fraser University of Canada.

The award was bestowed last night on the Scottish Government, followed by the China Association of Circular Economy as runners-up.

Judges praise USE-IT for ‘clear focus’

At the awards, judges said that USE-IT had “a clear focus on the circular economy, including wider sustainability opportunities and challenges in developing market conditions.

The judges added that the company had done well, achieving a significant impact given their size of operation.

Hoping to expand operations

Whyte said he hoped the exposure the company had gained with this nomination would “assist in growing, expanding and commercialising USE-IT’s many circular economy innovations across the continent of Africa and the world to contribute to a more sustainable future for our ailing planet”.

Past achievements

In the past, the NGO and its staff have received several local awards.

These include the Eco-Logic Recycling and Waste Management award for work done in 2015, as well as the Cape Craft and Design Institute’s Better Living Challenge in the Structural Home category and the company’s RamBrick system, developed by Whyte.

Whyte said that the RamBrick system was “the first, and currently the only, local conventional building material manufactured from 95% recycled materials”. This includes waste soil and recycled builder’s rubble.

Whyte explained that the bricks are composed of 25% mixed inert builder’s waste, 5% cement stabilising agent, and about 70% soil, depending on the soil type available.

“This kind of brick makes excellent sense, and is as good as, or better than any other for building houses,” he said. “In our resources-strapped global warming environment, this low-carbon alternative holds the key to sustainable construction.”

Whyte won the 2016 Individual Merit Certificate and Trophy in the KZN Waste Management Awards for his work done to establish RamBrick and other waste management innovations.