Despite an open letter to clients two weeks ago stating that Walker Bay Recycling (WBR) would close its doors for an undefined time due to a lack of support from the municipality, owner Hannes Neyschens this week said he had decided to the contrary.

“We took the decision not to close, but to rather scale back on our operations in order to keep the recycling plant open. We will have fewer vehicles on the road collecting recyclables from businesses and we will no longer be picking up clear plastic bags from sidewalks in suburbs,” said Neyschens.

Although the company is running at a significant loss, Neyschens said that recycling was his passion and he would fight until the last cent before he gives up. “We are stuck between a rock and a hard place, with the prices of recycling material falling significantly and our running costs climbing. It will still be at least another year before there will be an open tender by the municipality to run the Material Recovery Facility, so we will have to accept that and wait until then,” he said.

According to Neyschens they will focus in the coming months on the recycling that does help pay the bills. “At the moment, plastic and glass are still profitable and we would appreciate it if residents could bring these materials to us.”

WBR will be operating throughout the season and will be open every day from 08:00 to 17:00 when residents are welcome to bring us their dry recyclables (see graphic right). The company says it spends a lot of money and effort on dumping bags that do not conform to recycling standards, such as mixing dry and wet materials.

Resident and recycling supporter, Miranda Middel said although a company like WBR needs support from local authorities, a lot of the problems currently being experienced can also be attributed to residents not following the correct procedures when it comes to recycling.

“Basically, some people figure that it’s okay to include all kinds of non-recyclable goods such as food scraps, teabags, cigarette butts and soiled nappies in their dry-recycling bags. Alas it seems some people still believe in fairies that will sort the bags afterwards,” she said.

According to her, the result is that WBR becomes responsible for getting these refuse bags to Karwyderskraal at their own cost. “At this stage only 20% of what comes through their gates is recyclable or in a recyclable state, and the remaining 80% becomes their baby, so to speak. This translates into a whole truckload that needs to make this trip daily to Karwyderskraal. This is a much bigger issue than their fight with the municipality. Please inform the public of the responsibility that is actually theirs,” she said.

A huge public outcry followed the announcement that WBR would close its doors for “a short undefined period of time”. An online petition to ask the municipality to assist garnered close on 3 000 votes.

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Pat Redford/ Hermanus Baboons Action Group

Perhaps a solution is for the WBR and OM to form a co-operative, mutually beneficial media campaign, through the OM website, Facebook page, together with other community Facebook forums and media. The campaign could be simple, good graphics, and run throughout the remaining period of the rental contract. No WBR = no rental for OM? So maybe just focus on GLASS ONLY and PLASTIC ONLY? Awareness is half the solution.