MODERN lifestyles and its benefits exist because of industry. But with the good, comes the bad.
Industrial production results in hundreds of millions of tonnes of waste, such as plastics and other rubbish that are hazardous to human health and the environment. As Namibia’s population grows, so does our rubbish, making the issue of waste-management and recycling ever more important. Recycling is the processing of waste materials into new useful products to reduce pollution.
According to Recycle Forum Namibia (RFN), the world uses 1 million plastic bags per minute and each plastic bag takes up to 1000 years to decompose and never completely dissappears. The RFN says that up to 60% of the rubbish that ends up in the dustbin could be recycled and the unreleased energy contained in the average dustbin each year could power a television for up to 5000 hours.
“Encourage your local or national government officials to introduce legislation requiring manufacturers to take back the packaging waste from their products,” said RFN in a recent media advert.
In an effort to instill the culture of recycling in young people, the RFN runs an annual Schools Recycling Competition (SRC) and the 2012 competition was launched last month. The chairperson of RFN and Corporate Social Responsibility Manager of the Namibia Breweries, Patricia Hoeksema, said that since its launch in 2009 the competition has grown steadily from 10 schools to 39 schools this year.
“Not only does the SRC encourage young people to recycle, thereby enhancing sustainable waste management in Namibia, but it also teaches youngsters about the value of raw materials and why recycling is important,” said Hoeksema.
She said learners become familiar with what can be recycled and what not and are encouraged to make recycling a way of life at home. Mandume Primary School in Windhoek, Ongha Secondary School in Ohangwena region, Swakopmund Primary School, Otjikoto Senior Secondary School in Tsumeb and De Duine Secondary School at Walvis Bay are amongst the 39 schools taking part in the competition.
The Coordinator of the RFN, Wolgang Schenck said using recycled materials instead of virgin materials during manufacturing, reduces the environmental impact caused by mining for virgin metals, drilling for petroleum and harvesting trees. “Recycling also creates jobs and for every one job at a landfill, there are ten jobs in recycling processing and 25 jobs in recycling-based manufacturing. Recycling saves money as selling recyclable materials off-sets the extra costs of collecting and processing recyclables,” said Shenck.
The competition will run from 1 March 2012 - 28 February 2013. Schools that are participating have been given recycling stands. RFN promotes and facilitates recycling within the Namibian public on a non-profit basis. It is a joint venture between Namibia Breweries, the City of Windhoek, Rent-A-Drum, Collect-A-Can, 4H-Namibia, Plastick Packaging and Nuevas Ideas Consulting.