Langa Residents Turn Trash into Cash with Polyco’s PACKA-CHING Project

In just four days, Langa locals brought 5,2 tonnes of glass,1,9 tonnes of paper,1 tonne of plastic and 295 kilograms of cans to the PACKA-CHING mobile buy-back service in their area and, in exchange, received R 5,403.32.

Spearheaded by Polyco and funded by its members, the PACKA-CHING project is being piloted in Langa and was launched on Monday the 21st of August 2017. Its goal is to divert at least 750 tonnes of packaging waste from landfill by increasing recycling within selected informal settlements and lower-income areas around Cape Town and Johannesburg. At the same time, the initiative’s intention is to uplift the lives of local residents by enabling them to benefit financially.

Mandy Naudé, Chief Executive Officer at Polyco says, “There is a vast amount of visible waste lying around, especially in informal settlements. The large majority of the public is uneducated on the topic of recycling and totally unaware of the opportunities it presents. Much of the waste that we see lying around is packaging material from household products, most of which is recyclable. PACKA-CHING presents an income earning opportunity, whereby everyday South Africans are encouraged to take part in recycling in order to improve their own lives, the community as a whole and the environment in which they live.”

Brooke Kühne, PACKA-CHING Project Co-ordinator, explains: “The PACKA-CHING recycling trailer visits designated areas on specific days of the week to collect recyclable plastic, paper, metal cans and glass that has been collected and separated by community members. In exchange for these materials, they are rewarded with an amount of money determined by the current market price of each material type. The money is loaded onto their Kilorands CardTM (a special debit card) and can be spent at any shop that accepts MasterCard. By incentivising and encouraging community members to recycle and reduce waste pollution, we aim to positively change behaviour and shift the way in which people perceive recyclable packaging, in order to show them that waste has value.”

“Furthermore, we run a community fund in each area where the PACKA-CHING project operates. For every kilogram of recyclable material that is brought in, a fixed amount per kilogram of material type will be allocated to the fund. The accumulated value will be donated to a worthy project within each community, identified by the residents themselves. The intention of the fund is to provide additional incentive for households to recycle and to create a sense of unity and pride within the communities as they work towards a common goal. We would like the entire community to feel the benefits of this initiative and the positive change in behaviour,” adds Kühne.

The launch in Langa comes after weeks of distributing specially designed educational material in the area and visiting primary and high schools to educate learners about the value of and opportunities offered by recycling, as well as to encourage them to take the message home. During these presentations, the children were introduced to the project mascot, PACKA-MAN, who taught them which materials can be recycled and how to separate them correctly. They were also given specially designed age-specific educational booklets and board games to get them excited about recycling. Kühne shares: “By teaching children about recycling at a young age, they are more likely to grow up with this practice as second nature and will also be key influencers in their parents’ decisions to change their behaviour.”

Naudé shares: “We are thrilled that over 8.5 tonnes of waste – that would otherwise have littered Langa or ended up in landfills – was collected in under a week and we can’t wait to see what will be achieved by the end of the year-long pilot project. We are perhaps even more excited about the feedback from the community and seeing first-hand how the project is changing their perceptions of recycling and positively impacting their lives. It is so encouraging to see individuals passing by the PACKA-CHING trailer with huge smiles and items bought using their Kilorands Card™. This project has been made possible by the generosity of our Polyco member organisations – a group of responsible polyolefin packaging producers – and we are incredibly grateful to them for their support.”

Plans are in place to roll the PACKA-CHING project out in Kya Sands and the surrounding communities in Johannesburg early next year.

“When a community is able to realise the potential that recycling holds and just how easy it can be, they will be excited to participate, spread the message and encourage others to get involved too. The more this process continues, the more the project can grow. This, in turn, will result in more recyclable packaging being diverted from landfill and more communities benefitting from this positive change,” concludes Naudé.

For more information about the PACKA-CHING project or to find out how you can be involved, visit our newly launched website at You can also track the progress of the material collections and the community fund through this platform, as well download our educational booklets and board games. For more about Polyco and what we do, go to