The Breede Valley Association for Persons with Disabilities (BVAPD), located in Worcester, was severely impacted by Covid-19 and is set to close the doors of its recycling unit, leaving almost 15 disabled individuals without work.
BVAPD is a registered non-profit organisation that renders therapeutic, social and community development services to all people with disabilities in the Breede Valley municipal area, including the towns of Worcester, Rawsonville, De Doorns and Touws River.
It was established in 1951 under the name Worcester Cripple Care and Worcester Association for the Physically Disabled, and Drs Dommisse and Wilson realised the need for after-care for people with disabilities in the area.
The organisation developed and implemented a transformation plan as well as administrative systems and procedures to ensure good governance, cost-effective, equitable, accessible and accountable service delivery and management of the organisation.
A few years ago the association created a highly effective recycling unit, which facilitated job creation for people with disabilities searching for employment, which they were unable to secure in the open labour market due to their disability.
After consideration and research into the concept, starting a recycling unit seemed the most viable option in challenging economic times.
According to an Environmental Affairs and Tourism Media Statement issued in 2007, South Africa has set a national target of reducing the amount of waste going to landfills by 70% in 2022, and to minimise and treat the remaining 30%.
By implementing a recycling project, two very important global issues were addressed: job creation for people with disabilities and taking measures to save the environment.
By asking members of the community and local businesses to provide its plant with household or business recyclables, the latter did not only make a positive contribution to the environment, but they also enabled people with disabilities to access scarce employment opportunities.
Negotiations with local businesses ensured the collection of waste from their premises. After sorting all received waste, the items were delivered to specified service providers who weighed the waste and reimbursed the programme accordingly. Currently, 15 people with various disabilities benefit from a monthly profit share as part of their service delivery at the Recycling Project.
But now all of these gains hang in the balance.
“The difficult decision was made to terminate the project at the end of 2020, based on the economic challenges the global recycling market experienced pre- and during the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting financial pressure of keeping up with operational expenses,” Marketing Manager Deonie Basson explained.
“The decision was not easy, but one that had to be made.”
“I would say for the first three months of lockdown we had minimum sales that means we were only selling cartons at a low price,” Recycling Manager Tsidi Selikoe told Standard. “Due to the price drop it had a negative impact on our income. Other materials such as glass, plastic, paper were at a standstill.”
Basson said it is self-evident that there’s still a great need for waste management.
“Waste removal services can save a business a considerable amount of money and can also prevent the environment from being harmed,” he said. “The community can use and support our services with our existing resources, in the form of waste management, and save us unnecessary operational costs and keep our doors open.
“In the process we’ll still be in the fortunate position of addressing the global issues of saving our environment and job creation for people with disabilities.
“We need the support, without which we will need to close down. This will lead to more economic strain as job losses, especially for people with disabilities, will spiral downwards.
“The whole world is struggling due to this pandemic. It is up to us to see what change we can make, however small. We call on our community of the Care Capital of South Africa to support our cause. Recycling is our responsibility, support a person with a disability,” Basson added.
Many businesses in the area said that this is sad news and hope to make a difference and to create awareness to the importance of what they do.
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