Mr Prince Ndlovu (left) and the Plastic Artwork at the waste to wealth initiative launch.

Saving the Planet by Turning Waste to Wealth

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Waste to Wealth is an exciting initiative between UKZN’s Engineering Hub for the African City of the Future (Afrihub) and recycling company, Planetcare (Pty) Ltd.

Launched at a cocktail party at Howard College’s Centenary Building by renowned artist, Ms Coral Bijoux, the venture aims to sensitise students to the perils of plastic and waste as well as the need for recycling. The launch included a plastic art exhibition by Bijoux.

‘The partnership with Planetcare arose from a proposal by colleague Dr Herbert Bernhardt in Chemical Engineering to involve students in a recycling initiative,’ said Afrihub Manager, Dr Rudi Kimmie. ‘This aligned with AfriHub’s focus on sustainable cities through not only promoting waste management and recycling, but also finding financial value through these activities. The intention in the short to medium term is to promote waste management and recycling as commercially viable ventures that are good for the planet and good for profit. However, the ultimate aim is to develop an environmentally conscious citizenry, green-tech entrepreneurs and promote start-up ventures,’ said Kimmie.

The initiative received enthusiastic support from Planetcare Director, Mr Prince Ndlovu, who said, ‘Planetcare is very happy to be part of this adventure with UKZN. We have a lot of potential and hope for a fruitful journey to move ahead together and see where it takes us. There is a massive opportunity for young students at UKZN to get into the business where entry barriers are very few in terms of age, skills and qualification. All you need is to know that you have the drive and passion to run it,’ said Ndlovu.

Bernhardt shared his gratitude for the collaboration, also mentioning some of the future plans for the initiative. ‘The Waste to Wealth initiative is premised on three steps,’ said Bernhardt. ‘The first is to excite and sensitise students through a competition with prize money sponsored by Planet Care. The second is to establish a student company through which students can learn about the logistics and value streams of waste, whilst the third is to work through the UKZN structures and explore ways to generate revenue from the University’s waste,’ he said.

Kimmie described the turnout at the event as excellent. The audience represented the creative arts, business sector, philanthropic and academic communities.

Words : Manqoba Hadebe

Photograph: Andile Ndlovu