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From trash to cash with the Mobile Buyback Centre in Katlehong

| Social Responsibility

Packa-Ching in partnership with Shoprite launched its fourth mobile buyback centre in Katlehong, Johannesburg earlier today. This mobile recycling unit will travel between low-income communities and surrounding schools in Katlehong, Tokoza and Vosloorus to buy recyclable packaging materials from residents.

With a unique, entrepreneur-focused approach, Packa-Ching’s network of owner-operated mobile buy-back centres consist of a truck and trailer that purchases recyclable packaging material from select communities. Residents bring recyclable packaging material (plastic, paper, cans and glass), on the collection day, the material is weighed and the value for their materials is then paid to them via a cashless eWallet system in real time.


The latest entrepreneur to be empowered through this initiative is Tshepo Mazibuko, who owns K1 Recycling.

“I am a former trash reclaimer (waste picker) myself. Now I own and operate a buyback centre in addition to my plastic processing plant in the community of Katlehong, which I’ve been running for the past nine years. I’ve always been troubled by the amount of rubbish that is lying around our township in spite of the waste pickers digging in rubbish bins daily trying to reduce the waste by separating the recyclables. When I heard about the Packa-Ching initiative, it dawned on me that recycling is just a small part of the solution. Our biggest challenge and solution to the waste lying everywhere in our townships, is educating consumers about the importance of separating waste at source and the best way to interest them is to reward them.

- Tshepo Mazibuko, owner of K1 Recycling

The monetary value of the recyclables is loaded into a user’s eWallet account. This money can be spent at any participating merchants such as Shoprite and uSave to purchase groceries, purchase airtime, withdraw cash or transfer funds to any other cellphone number in South Africa  The eWallet removes the logistical challenge of accounting for cash and stock, while also avoiding the security issues that cash attracts.


“Through its long-term partnership with Packa-Ching, Shoprite continues to reduce the amount of recyclable waste going to landfills, whilst creating income-generating opportunities for communities across South Africa. Our business has a zero waste-to-landfill approach and is committed to reducing waste in its operations, including changing consumer behaviour. Given that many South Africans do not recycle and due to the country’s high unemployment rate, we are playing our part in addressing these challenges by supporting the national roll out of Packa-Ching, which incentivises individuals to recycle.

- Sanjeev Raghubir, Shoprite’s Group Sustainability Manager


This week, the South African Plastics Pact was launched to address plastic waste at its source. Shoprite is one of 20 businesses that has committed to ensuring 100% its plastic packaging is reusable and/or recyclable by 2025.  

Packa-Ching also operates in the Western Cape (covering Langa, Joe Slovo, Lavender Hill and Philippi), Limpopo (covering Thabazimbi and surrounding areas), and East London (covering Buffalo City). Since August 2017, these mobile units have diverted more than 885 tons of recyclable packaging material from landfill, while the communities have earned over R650,000 in exchange for their recyclables. 

The collaboration between Polyco (Packa-Ching), Shoprite and K1 Recycling is not only encouraging much-needed awareness about recycling, but it is also introducing a technology-based rewards programme into the informal sector.

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