PETCO and SAFRIPOL continue to support Bophelo Recycling in 2020

PETCO and SAFRIPOL continue to support Bophelo Recycling in 2020
18 May 2020

PETCO and SAFRIPOL continue to support Bophelo Recycling in 2020

Ermelo – Motivated by a strong desire to fight unemployment, hunger, and the growing threat of drugs in her community, Johanna Leshabane launched the Bophelo Recycling project back in 2007. Having started as a reclaimer under the Expanded Public Works Programme, Johanna is passionate about cleaning up the environment and officially registered her business in 2017.

Bophelo Recycling, located in Ermelo Mpumalanga, collects most recyclables, such as PET, cardboard, white and mixed-colour paper, aluminium cans, glass and other plastics, from informal settlements, households, and schools, as well as the community in and around Ermelo.

It was Johanna’s determined attitude that led her to initially contact PETCO, which kickstarted a strong partnership. PETCO sponsored Bophelo with a platform scale, some protective clothing and training for Johanna and her staff. PETCO believes that, by sponsoring projects like Bophelo with equipment to grow and sustain their businesses, job creation can be stimulated, which in turn alleviates poverty while promoting development in our country.

Around the same time, Johanna was also approached by a local businessman who saw the opportunity to support his community by allowing Bophelo to trade on one of his business properties rent-free. Johanna had just started operating her buy-back centre and she had collected about 70 bags of PET that she was planning to sell to a recycler whom she had contacted. This, along with the sponsorship from PETCO, was Johanna’s first real ‘wow’ moment and confirmed that she was getting somewhere.

Johanna continues to have a good working relationship with her local municipality, which supports Bophelo with various education and awareness activities, both in the local schools and within the broader community. This partnership is key as it helps reduce illegal dumping while increasing clientele for Bophelo.

Bophelo received a further boost in June 2019 when PETCO and PETCO member and polymer producer Safripol handed over supporting infrastructure worth R500 000 to further Leshabane’s vision – this sponsorship included a branded shipping container, a secure double-carport roof shelter, a branded 4-metre trailer, a branded baling machine, a 3-phase electricity meter, electricity cables, an extending fence, a signage board for her business, and 5 branded various trollies.

Before the initial PETCO sponsorship, Bophelo Recycling had 2 permanent employees and 3 part-time workers collecting and sorting recyclables. The sponsorship in 2019 allowed Johanna to create more jobs as it facilitated the growing of her business to include a depot for collections which services many areas around Mpumalanga. Bophelo Recycling now employs up to 11 permanent employees and 20 part-time collectors, who assist with sorting and buying material.

During the COVID-19 period, Bophelo Recycling has not slowed down at all. They have continued visiting homeless youth at a lockdown facility in Ermelo, giving them food, clothing, books and a few words of encouragement. In partnership with local social workers, Bophelo donated food and clothing to orphanages and they bought food for elderly people in the community who collects waste. They also partnered with a local bakery who gives them bread to distribute to the homeless in their community.

PETCO is immensely proud to be associated with Bophelo Recycling, who have continued working hard to make a difference in their community.