Protecting our marine environment, one river at a time

National Water Week takes place from 16 – 22 March 2021, an environmental celebration that Plastics SA supports and promotes as part of our annual Clean-up and Recycle SA campaign.

Plastics play a vital role in water – from water bottles, to pipes transporting water, to irrigation of crops but they become a problem when carelessly discarded in rivers and dams.  Despite many clean-up initiatives, countrywide, the most important message is that we need to change our behaviour, in order to change the plight of the waterways and ultimately our ocean life.

Water is life and it needs to be valued!

‘The quality of a stream or river is often a good indication of the way of life within a community through which is flows. It is an indicator of the socio-economic conditions and environmental awareness and attitude of its users.  Everything that happens in a catchment area is reflected in the quality of the water that flows through it, because the results of human activity and lifestyle ultimately end up in rivers, through runoff’.

The summer rains of 2020/2021 have once again highlighted the plight of most of South Africa’s rivers and estuaries.  Due to a lack of infrastructure and municipal resources, concerned environmentalists and citizens have taken it upon themselves to save many of the rivers which are in such bad shapes that many don’t sustain any life at all.  Plastics SA and its partners support these initiatives in various ways as well as supply the bags used to collect the waste removed from the rivers.  Plastics SA will be supporting various clean-up events in Gauteng, KZN and the Western Cape during March 2021 and would like to highlight some of the collaborative efforts that have been actively healing rivers over the past year.

Gauteng Rivers

Hennops Revival is a nonprofit organization with the focus on reviving, restoring and healing the Hennops River which flows through Johannesburg, Centurion and eventually feeds in the Hartebeespoort Dam.  They work in collaboration with the government, Plastics SA (provides the bags to collect the debris) other NGO’s, NPO’s and Forums, the private sector and the public.  Thanks to the endless commitment of volunteers and extensive media coverage, the City of Tshwane has assured members of the community and the business sector in Centurion that the process to rehabilitate the Hennops River will be intensified in 2021!

The situation worsens following each summer’s rains which result in floods and untreated chemical waste and sewer water entering the Hennops River. It has to be emphasized that the risk is ever present upstream, beyond the municipal boundary, with multiple cases of overflowing sewers and partially treated effluent being discharged into the river and its tributaries as a result of poor waste management and lack of infrastructure.
For more information visit the Hennops Revival Facebook Group.
Between the efforts of Live Life Always and Cetric Foundation, the Jukskei River, in the Northern part of Johannesburg, is regularly cleaned, and run off areas that lead to the river from major roads are kept free of litter.
The Cetric Foundation  includes local young people in their clean-ups in Limpopo, Centurion, Irene and Sunninghill, creating awareness in the hope of changing behaviour from a young age.  Besides the jobs that are being created, they are hoping to create awareness of the importance of protecting the environment.  These organisations are hoping to extend their cleanups to other areas, as soon as funds allow.

Western Cape Rivers

PlasticsSA and our industry partners support Friends of the Liesbeek  and the Help Up organisations with their clean-up activities in Cape Town.  A boat was donated a few years back to assist in the retrieval of the debris that was collected and we presently provide the bags used to collect all of the collected debris.

We recently delivered 10 fishing line bins to be used in the Velddrif area and along the Berg River.  This will create awareness and at the same time encourage fishermen to place their discarded fishing lines in the bins after fishing.


We are currently collaborating on a project in Westlake which will reduce waste entering False Bay via those canals.  Currently there are nets up at the entrance into Westlake and we look forward to sharing more news on this project very soon!

KZN Amanzimtoti River Catchment Project

Inkwazi Isu (Fisheagle Project) is the brainchild of a group of collaborators from Industry and Civil society who engaged with the eThekwini Municipality and put together a project to address education, infrastructure development and an Innovation Hub, to develop new ideas for entrepreneurs, to highlight plastic pollution on the KZN South Coast.

In Amanzimtoti, the stakeholders have all come together to design and implement a comprehensive difference in the way plastic waste is managed. After the last flash floods that covered the beaches with tonnes of plastic, local NGO Clean Surf Project decided that more had to be done than simply picking up after the problem. Two immediate interventions were required and the Inkwazi Isu was born. The KZN Marine Waste Network South Coast was formed and industry leaders including Coca Cola Beverages South Africa, SASOL, PETCO, Polyco, Polystyrene Association of SA, Plastics SA and local community leaders got together to address the situation. Coca Cola Beverages South Africa sponsored a Beach Rake with a Unimog, a multi purpose vehicle, which is being operated by Clean Surf Project and removes the smaller particles of plastic that cannot be picked up by hand, and therefore improves the quality of our beaches. SASOL funded a Baseline Study to quantify the problems and draw up a project to address the issues, education, collection at source, recycling, and river clean-ups.

Working closely with the Municipality, Industry and Civil Society, a support mechanism has been established to empower local informal recyclers, local businesses and NGO’s to overcome the current practices of treating used plastic as a worthless product and enabling the potential of its recycling value to be reached.

By identifying and facilitating strategic partnerships and facilitating shifts in the collection and processing of recyclable plastic, KZN Marine Waste Network South Coast through the Inkwazi Isu hopes to provide improved environmental education and training, the development of infrastructure to supply Buy Back Centres and infrastructure to assist collectors and recyclers and ultimately to develop a new locally based value chain for used plastic, which is essential for reduction, reusing and recycling.

#WaterIsLife #cleanrivers #cleanseas #weareallupstreamfromtheocean #jobcreation #mightywaters #fortheocean #litterboom