As part of SAB and AB InBev Africa’s value chain approach to sustainable development, working towards a circular economy is of particular importance. We currently distribute over 85% of our products in returnable glass bottles that we can reuse multiple times. Utilising returnable packaging has a number of benefits including diverting more waste away from landfills, utilising less virgin raw materials, and reducing the amount of energy required to produce packaging and the overall carbon footprint of our products.
We also place a lot of emphasis in both reducing the weight of our packaging and increasing recycled content. For example, our glass bottles contain over 40% recycled material while in our aluminium cans this is as high as 70%.
For our non-returnable packaging we are working both with existing industry organisations such as The Glass Recycling Company in South Africa as well as initiating our own programs in certain markets. These programs not only recover and recycle package waste but also bring skills development and higher income potential to the beneficiaries of these projects.
Tembisa Recycling Project, South Africa
In July 2018, we launched a program in Tembisa, the aim of which was to increase the rate of recovery and recycling of waste material within the community, including SAB’s post-consumer packaging waste. Working with local co-operatives, the project provided both equipment, such as Personal Protective Equipment, waste processing machines, vehicles as well as training. An important element of the program is also to run public awareness initiatives aimed at providing actionable information around the benefits of recycling and re-use within the community.
Between July 2018 and January 2019, they recovered 700 tonnes of waste, the majority of which was glass, with the participation of approximately 60 individuals from Tembisa and Johannesburg.
“The program was a well-designed and executed social enterprise that brought measurable positive social impact in the lives of Tembisa residents. Participants were able to utilize the infrastructure and training provided to improve their livelihoods and foster a recycling culture in the community” notes Sifiso Ngobese of Unconventional Waste who managed the implementation of the project.
Recycling beyond our borders
There is a natural ripple effect when it comes to pursuing initiatives that can truly help elevate the community and the surrounding area. The success of the Tembisa Recycling project was in part due to a model that SAB adopted from Zambian Breweries which has implemented a similar program called Manja Pamodzi – which is a Zambian community-based clean-up campaign that boosts waste recycling efforts, while encouraging entrepreneurship among residents.
The initiative has resulted in the collection of over 3000 tonnes of waste since inception and is now present in 10 districts in Zambia. It also has had a positive impact in supporting women with 73% of the 457 collectors of being female.
The success of these initiatives has resulted in The South African Breweries ring fencing funding for two additional programs in 2019 in South Africa. As we continue our journey to create a better world through the implementation of sustainable practices, we are also working towards expanding these initiatives across Africa.
“Our commitment is clear, we are determined to work towards contributing towards a circular economy in South Africa, and indeed the rest of Africa, where waste is viewed as a resource, an opportunity to create jobs and a cleaner environment,” says Bishen Morgan, Procurement Director: Sustainability & Capabilities, SAB and AB InBev Africa.