What happens to our 100 million tonnes of rubbish?


Rubbish is wrecking our world. South Africa alone generates over 100 million tonnes of waste every year. All of that has to go somewhere, and with landfills overflowing we’re running out of space. In a country that only recycles 10% of its waste, something has to change. That’s where Recycle Swap Shop comes in.

The development program aims to encourage South Africans to start recycling by implementing an exchange system where people can collect tokens for recyclable goods. The tokens can be used to purchase food or clothing items from the swap shop. Founded in 2003 in the township of Zwelihle, the initiative promotes sustainable living through recycling. It enables people by encouraging them to be active in order to obtain their basic needs. The model has been replicated in Knysna, Bot River, Hout Bay and Jeffrey’s Bay.

Riaan Van der Westhuizen, the manager of the project, says that it “is not a handout. It’s a hand up.” The initiative is making a small change to a massive problem, using methods that are sustainable and scalable.