Grassroots circular economy talent celebrated in Johannesburg


International NGO WasteAid brought together grassroots circular economy talent at a celebratory event for local residents working towards making Johannesburg a zero waste city.

The Making the Circular Economy a Reality in Johannesburg event at the Hospitality Trainers and Associates HTA School of Culinary Art in Randburg, hosted on 26 May 2022, brought together “entrepreneurs and industry leaders” from across the city.

WasteAid explains the event was the culmination of a two-year programme to support innovators and business start-ups that help keep “wasted” resources in the loop, creating a cleaner city and sustainable livelihood opportunities. WasteAid says the Circular Economy Network programme, which the organisation ran, aimed to fast-track local solutions to a circular economy in Johannesburg.

With many parts of Johannesburg still underserved with waste collections and recycling, these grassroots entrepreneurs are providing a much-needed value to society, WasteAid says.

Circular Economy Network Director at WasteAid, Michelle Wilson, shared what they felt were achievements of the initiative, including 36 companies being given business incubator support and $60,000 of seed funding to expand their businesses.

WasteAid says a wide variety of stakeholders attended the event including representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, Business Finland, Tourvest, packaging recovery organisation Plastics SA and programme sponsor Huhtamaki, a global supplier of packaging solutions.

The Zero Waste Cities Challenge is a circular economy competition delivered by the WasteAid Circular Economy Network, with funding support provided by Huhtamaki. The challenge is looking for “innovative ways to address the impact of waste and climate change by incorporating circular economy design”.

WasteAid says that winners of the Zero Waste Cities Challenge are benefitting from business incubation and seed funding to bring their circular economy ideas to life.

Boombadotmobi, who work in Diepsloot one of Johannesburg’s biggest townships to eradicate illegal dumping, one of 2 winners of the competition, said: “Before we relied on a business model where 75% of the income went to the transporter but now we have swapped it around through the purchase of a truck.”

In November 2021, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) entered into an 18-month funded partnership with WasteAid to support the development of waste management in the Greater Banjul Area (GBA) of The Gambia.

The project has seen WasteAid engage with a variety of partners to progress the delivery of sustainable waste management capacity, develop skills among the professional community, and support the transition to a circular economy through education, training, and investment.

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