Mzamomhle wins first place in recycling contest

School deputy principal Lulamile Baneti, left, and teacher Zimkhitha Sophothela with pupils, from left, Afika Nongxenge, Inga Makhenke, Ayabonga Sakhawule, Thukela Latoya, Aphelele Mtshikila and Uyathandwa Matshikiza.

A Philippi school that collected more 3.5 tons of trash – heavier than a minibus taxi – to take first place in a recycling competition has won R30 000 for its efforts.

There was jubilation at Mzamomhle Primary School last Friday as it claimed its prize in the Trash 4 Treats competition run by INEOS, a manufacturing multinational, from April to September.

Mzamomhle Primary recycled 3 769kg during the competition. Symphony Primary in Belhar took second place with 2164.8kg and Dietrich Moravia Primary in Philippi came third with 1 453.6kg.

Principal Welile Ngonzo said they were “beyond excited”.

Thanks to the hard work of its children, who had been kept busy sorting plastic, tin cans, cardboard, newspaper, broken pallets and waste electric equipment, the school now had money for a sports field.

“I am lost for words for what our pupils did. I am just really proud of their efforts and those of, the teacher who coordinated the whole thing, the parents who guide and protect their children and our staff for the support. They really put a lot into this initiative.

“When they start receiving rewards, they are driven to recycle more and can share their learnings with family and friends. It has been wonderful to witness children take an active interest in caring for their environment.”

He had noticed a big change in the pupils since they had started the Trash 4 Treats project.

“There is cleanliness and the environment looks clean all around. But they have started teaching others about the disadvantages of littering and illegal dumping. The initiative has helped us a lot. It has helped parents too because they were part of the collection of all the stuff.

“We had a plan for the sports field for the 2022 budget, but now we will do it soon. The days of going to use fields in Nyanga and elsewhere are over.”

Zimkhitha Sophothela, the teacher who co-ordinated the project at the school, said the pupils were eager to take part next year.

“They have learned something good,” she said. “We need more such competitions that encourage cleanliness. The information they have I am sure has been transferred to other children who are not from our school and some parents. I am thankful to the organisers.”

INEOS project manager, Caroline Hughes, said Trash 4 Treats taught children, from a young age, the value of recycling and helped them build good habits for the rest of their lives.

The pupils are rewarded with treats from their local spaza shop for collecting the recyclable waste and participating schools can win a share of R100 000 in prize money.

“Through this competition, we want to demonstrate to young pupils from low-income households that recyclable waste has value. In addition, we strive to encourage behaviour change through a combination of education, recognition and reward,” Ms Hughes said.

Primary school pupils from 20 schools in the province collected 25 393.38kg of recyclables during this year’s project – that’s the weight of eight Toyota Quantums.

Teacher Zimkhitha Sophothela shows off the R30 000 cheque that was presented to Mzamomhle Primary School after it took first place in the INEOS Trash 4 Treats recycling competition.