Once upon a time and not so long ago, the Overstrand had a deserved reputation as one of the municipalities with the highest rates of recycling in South Africa. When both the recycling and waste transfer plants were destroyed last year, our recycling reputation went from hero to zero.

Walker Bay Recycling (WBR), a private company, bravely stepped in to open up a new recycling centre in the Hermanus Industrial Area. The Municipality, in the meantime, went ahead with plans for a new Material Recovery Facility (MRF) and drop-off facilities to be constructed in Schulphoek Road, next to the Hermanus Sewerage Treatment Works.

Until the MRF has been built, most probably by the end of next year, and a tender opened for the operation of the facility, Walker Bay Recycling is unable to benefit from any sort of support, the municipality says, due to legislative constraints.

What a wasted (pun very definitely intended) opportunity!

It is a sad day when a business is forced to close as it has a big impact on all the employees and their families. But in the instance of WBR the impact is felt by the whole community. If ever there was an opportunity to cut some bureaucratic red tape and look to create a “win-win” situation, this would be it. After all, in the end, it is the taxes that are paying for the MRF and drop-off facilities. It is residents’ monthly taxes that pay for garbage collection. In other words, the source of money is the same. Us!

We have a wealth of knowledge about recycling and public-private partnerships in the Overstrand that can assist in creating a unique new business model to the benefit of the whole community.

It is unfortunate that the rate per ton paid for recyclables has dropped considerably and this has had a major impact on the financial viability of WBR. This is the nature of markets. Prices move all the time. But this doesn’t mean that our recycling efforts should be affected. Oil prices go down. Does this mean that we should not promote solar?

In the end, the focus needs to be on regaining the Overstrand’s reputation. By being creative and seeking solutions, even temporary ones, a positive outcome can be found.

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