Sun International has become the first African company to receive a prestigious Green Building Council of South Africa’s Net Zero Waste rating for their ambitious recycling effort at its Wild Coast Sun property.
A first of its kind in the country, the award’s verification process required on full year’s data before it could be certified. The Green Building Council of South Africa completed the criteria process at the end of 2017, after which an external audit of the data was done last year by professional environment consultancy, GCX.
In order to be considered for the award, an operational waste and materials management plan needs to be introduced and implemented on site. The Wild Coast Sun had to submit regular audits and to remain effective long term, educational, workshops and seminars where used to create awareness amongst their employees.
The company first introduced plans to eliminate waste sent to the landfill in 2015 with the aim of achieving zero waste to landfill at all its South African properties. The group aims to be a leader in waste management in the local hospitality industry by encouraging suppliers, contractors and concessionaires to introduce similar waste saving initiatives at their operations.
The Wild Coast Sun has recycled 600 tons of waste annually since January 2017. This will help to protect the pristine Wild Coast environment and create jobs for the local community.
The project now sustains two permanent enterprise development projects. Gayo enterprises, headed by Aben Mbabala who employs seven people who are responsible for collecting and separating food waste, cartridges, paper, cardboard and batteries. Vuka Uzenzele Trading is managed by Alex Nzimakwe with five employees who produce compost from food waste and garden cuttings. They plant and manage the new organic vegetable gardens.
The compost covers approximately seventy meters and it has produced 187 tons of compost during 2018. This has translated into a saving of R430 000 for compost, which the resort had to buy previously to maintain its golf course and gardens. Organic vegetables grown in the garden (which is cultivated with the additional compost) now saves the hotel and restaurants approximately R10 000 per month in produce costs. Excess vegetables are donated to local schools for their soup kitchens with one school alone feeding as many as 900 children per day.
Most of the plastic waste is recycled whilst other used materials such as hotel furniture, computers, appliances and linen are donated to needy local communities and organisations such as hospitals. Non-recyclable waste is used to manufacture eco-bricks by the unit’s appointed recycling service provider based in Port Edward. This has created further jobs in the area to deal with the approximately forty tons of waste that the Wild Coast Sun used to send to landfill every month.
In 2018, the Wild Coast Sun also received the Eco-Logic Recycling and Waste Management Award.
Sonja Stroud, Safety, Health and Environmental Officer comments:
“Our approach to sustainability is holistic. It is based on the need to protect our natural environment and to save our natural resources, so eliminating the waste we send to landfill is a natural progression of this strategy. To achieve our zero waste goal we had to scrutinise every element of our operation at the Wild Coast. The first step was to get rid of skips and compactors and to sort the waste on site. Now, recycling and repurposing waste lessens our environmental footprint and also assists people living in the communities we do business in through donations of physical products, excess food from our gardens and the creation of new business and employment opportunities.”