By Elena Ciccirillo
During this week’s lecture we had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan Welch, who is responsible for the KwaMashu Waste Benefication Centre of Green Corridors, a NGO operating in South Africa. The mission of Green Corridors is to reconnect the local communities with the natural environment surrounding them. By doing so, this NGO helps reducing plastic pollution, restoring a healthy living environment and creating economic opportunities for the very same communities the organization works with. In this blog post I will explore what projects and technical solutions Green Corridors developed to make all this happen.
Many communities in the Durban region of South Africa live in an environment polluted by plastic and other types of waste. The unhealthy living environment has a negative impact on the health and quality of life of the local population.
The origin of the plastic pollution in this area can be found in the inadequate waste management infrastructure and in the lack of recycling practices within the local communities. Moreover, the incredible natural habitat of this region is often not appreciated as much as it should be by the local population. The inability to see nature as something worth protecting leads to irresponsible behaviours.
The work of Green Corridors
Here is where Green Corridors steps in. The goal of this South African NGO, as it can be read on its website, is to help “communities thrive in balance with the habitats around them”. Some projects carried on by Green Corridors directly aim at fostering an interest in taking care of nature by educating children and by supporting tourism.
The KwaMashu Waste Benefication Centre
Along with these sensibilization projects, Green Corridors sells a range of products developed by its innovation centre, the KwaMashu Materials Beneficiation Centre. These Green Products are made out of waste materials such as glass and non-recyclable plastic as well as organic waste. In this way, Green Corridors helps to actively remove waste from the environment. During this week’s lecture we had the pleasure to hear about these Green Products directly from the person responsible for the KwaMashu Materials Beneficiation Centre, Jonathan Welch.
Green Concrete from waste
One way Green Corridors is ingeniously upcycling waste is by reducing it into small pieces and blending it together with cement to produce concrete. This product, called Green Concrete, consist of 87% waste material, which is collected from the landfill, directly from rivers or, in the case of building material such as bricks and gravel, from illegal dumps. The waste gets sorted, cleaned, crushed and then mixed with cement.
Green Concrete is currently used to create pavers. The particularly hard surface of these pavers, which increases their lifespan, is obtained by incorporating glass in the mixture. Moreover, these pavers present brightly coloured plastic fragments on the top surface. This feature makes them distinguishable from normal concrete pavers and perfect for the location for which they were designed for: schools.
Green Concrete pavers are sold for R115 (CHF 5,32, 5,46€). For every ten pavers sold, one gets donated to Shayamoya School. The revenues are used to compensate the workers with a fair wage and to expand the production. The innovation centre is already developing other types of pavers with different surfaces for different applications.
With the production of Green Concrete, Green Corridors is not only reducing pollution but also creating employment opportunities. A core part of the project is providing local workers with linguistic and technical skills, which can help them in their future career.
Succeeding in such an ambitious goal as supporting the local population in creating “vibrant, sustainable and economically integrated communities” is not easy. However, thanks to its technical innovations and forward thinking social projects, Green Corridors proves every day that it is indeed possible.