Saturday, 19 October 2019
17.85 ℃ few clouds

V&A Waterfront and Pick n Pay partner to banish plastics

On International Plastic Bag Free Day the V&A Waterfront’s commitment to eliminating single-use plastic is being supported by a public awareness campaign in the busy Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre and through collaborative partnerships with tenants.

Retailer Pick n Pay is offering customers cardboard carry-boxes on the day, and will have also become the first retailer in the country to offer 100% biodegradable bags, making the store completely plastic-free for the day.

At the Victoria Wharf centre court, recycled plastic was used to produce a large skeleton of a whale, highlighting the damage plastics cause to the oceans and marine life. Visitors are able to walk inside the skeleton to take photos and to make a pledge to reduce their plastic footprint. From Tuesday, 3 July through to Monday, 9 July, there will be two containers where shoppers can swop their plastic bags in return for a reusable V&A Waterfront bag made from recycled PET bottles.

Educational content will also be broadcast across electronic screens set up at the activation.

Half of all the plastic ever produced was manufactured after the year 2000 and the world now consumes as much as a trillion plastic bags every year. Although each plastic bag is only used for an estimated 15 minutes, it has a lifespan of 450 years and more. The V&A Waterfront’s education activation aims to shine a spotlight on this throw-away culture that leads to an average of nine million tons of plastic ending up in the oceans every year. Once in the sea, plastic releases toxins, is swallowed by fish, strangles marine life, or ends up floating about as islands of plastic rubbish.

Stopping this waste at source is critical. V&A Waterfront Executive for Operations Andre Theys said: “The V&A Waterfront is a unique retail environment in that the ocean is as important to our business as our retail offering is. Not only do ocean views attract visitors to our property, but we are South Africa’s oldest working harbour with active fishing fleets. We are therefore extremely conscious of the urgent need to protect this natural resource from a rising tide of destructive plastic waste.

“At the Volvo Ocean Race Summit and the inaugural Ocean Life Festival in November last year, we made a public commitment to do everything possible to eliminate single-use plastics across our property. There are approximately 16,000 people working at the V&A Waterfront every day, and as Africa’s most visited destination, we welcome 26-million visitors a year. By appealing to our tenants and staff and educating visitors to support our vision for a more sustainable plastic-free future, the V&A Waterfront can drive meaningful environmental change and become a bulwark between a sea of plastic waste and the ocean.”

After making the commitment to a plastic-free future, in December the V&A Waterfront became the first port in Africa to test the Waste shark, remote-controlled marine drones that float on the ocean surface gobbling plastic in their way. The V&A Waterfront has also actively engaged with tenants to find sustainable solutions.

In addition to introducing incentives for tenants to adopt proper waste disposable and recycling methods, the V&A Waterfront also actively ensures the property keeps pace with global best practice in recycling and in terms of plastic bans. Over the past year, the V&A Waterfront recycled 2,500 tons of waste and collected and diverted over 6,300 tons of waste from landfill sites. Of this, 81 tons came from the waterways and the Maritime industry. Approximately 24% of all the recyclable waste has been plastic.

The V&A bags have been produced by Township, a women-owned community-based sewing and craft cooperative that uses recycled material to create corporate bags, fashion accessories and shopping bags.