By Amanda Botes
Asiye eTafuleni’s (AeT) Inner-City Cardboard Recycling Project has been commended for a 2012 AfriSam-South African Institute of Architects Sustainable Architecture award in the work of social significance category. The South African awards were set up to recognise outstanding achievement in sustainable architecture in South Africa and to create public awareness and debate on architectural issues. The Social Significance category demonstrates that sustainable architecture does not only involve the creation of buildings.
The Inner-City Cardboard Recycling Project is an Imagine Durban demonstration project, situated in Durban, South Africa, and has partially been funded by Sustainable Cities International (SCI) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) since 2009. The aim of the project is to improve the livelihoods of informal cardboard recyclers in Durban and initially involved testing and distributing different trolley prototypes and equipment to two groups of informal cardboard collectors in Durban. In addition a “Friends of the Recyclers” programme was initiated by AeT which has enhanced the relationships between the informal recyclers and the generators of the waste and enabled the recyclers to access more cardboard. For the next phase of the project a much needed sorting facility will be developed and the informal recyclers preferences have been taken into account in this development.
On the award, Tasmi Quazi researcher at Asiye eTafuleni stated “The award has been significant in further foregrounding a marginalised activity within the built environment fraternity, particularly in highlighting the possibilities of the creative inclusion of this livelihood activity into urban plans.” Quazi further explained the benefit of the awards to the informal recyclers themselves “… the recyclers reported that it has increased their self-esteem and pride in their work, as more and more circles of potential influential stakeholders are recognising their contributions to the city’s waste management function, the green economy, the environment and society at large.”
Jane McRae, CEO of SCI, congratulated Asiye eTafulani on the award “Since 2009 we have watched excitedly as this project has grown. Asiye eTafuleni has not only assisted with equipment for informal recyclers but has enhanced the visibility and credibility of informal recyclers within the city. This award further contributes to raising awareness of including informal workers in urban planning decision-making projects in cities.”
Quazi commented on the valuable role that SCI has played by funding the Inner-City Cardboard Recycling Project as a pilot, “Specific funding such as this to test a pilot intervention is invaluable because the likes of these projects which provide flexibility and space to explore strategies to enhance challenging areas of marginalisation are not easily able to attract mainstream funding.” Quazi added that the project also benefited from the strategic support and direction provided by skilled SCI professionals and through SCI’s network were able to share project learnings locally and internationally.