Clarens News managed to catch up with Evon Els and her helpers Mojalefa and Palo outside the Recycling Centre just after the beerfest.   Evon manages the Recycling centre, and together with Mojalefa and Palo,  goes to great lengths to collect recyclable materials from in and around Clarens.  It’s a big job – often smelly and dirty – and therefore, not for the feint hearted.

I asked Evon how she came to be so passionate about recycling, and she told me that it all started when she had an engineering business in Graaff Reinet.  She started to put aside all the scrap metal generated by her business, and next thing the community started bringing her tin cans and bottles, which she bought from them in an effort to alleviate the dire poverty in the area.  The effect verged on miraculous.  Not only was there money going into the community, but the whole town was cleaned up.  The effects of recycling are huge, and Evon is hoping that she can have the same effect on the Clarens community that she had in Graaff Reinet.

Materials are collected from the trailer parked outside the Bibliophile, restaurants, businesses, the transfer site,  schools, the Kgubetswana taverns and homes, and if you phone her, she’ll even come to your home to collect. Unfortunately, not all Clarens businesses seem to be aware of the recycling centre and still empty all their refuse material into one black bag for the municipality to collect. But Evon was quick to point out that The Highlander, Artichoke, Clarens Xtreme, Old Stone Bottle Store, 278 On Main, and The Village Grocer are extremely loyal supporters and make it really easy for her collect.  Many Clarens residents are also good enough to drop off materials at the centre itself – and this is a great help.  Evon has also been impressed with how many Kgubetswana residents bring their materials – sometimes in wheelbarrows – to the centre.  Evon now buys some of these materials from members of the Kgubetswana, and this has created several micro-businesses in the community.   The Environmental Education projects run by the CVC also seem to be having an effect, and many Kgubetswana residents are aware of the value of recycling and show their support whenever they can.

Once on site, all the materials are sorted – and in instances where the materials are very dirty, washed.  Once the materials have been sorted and crushed, they are baled in readiness for transport, so that they can be sold. A task which is not as easy as it sounds, as the prices offered are generally very low, but thanks to Evon’s negotiating skills, she manages to get the best prices going.  Transport to buyers is however a huge problem.   Transport costs are extremely high and where tolls need to be paid it becomes unviable.   Evon has however managed to find a buyer in Qua Qua and is hopeful that she has managed to overcome much of this problem.

It’s easy to forget how much “rubbish”  even a small town like Clarens can generate.   As an example last weekend the recycling team collected 800kg of cardboard, 3 tons of glass bottles, and 400 kg of plastic bottles (and if you consider how light plastic is, this is a huge volume).

What you can do to help:

– Drop off material at the Recycling Centre.  (See map below of where to find it.)

– Put recycling material in the trailer outside Bibliophile.

– Separate recyclable material from other refuse into a separate bag.  (Any bag will do – as long as material for the recycling centre is not mixed up with other refuse.  Evon tells me that she only needs to kick a bag to know whether or not it contains material she can recycle. Even if your bag ends up being collected by the Municipality, Evon will be able to identify it at the transfer site.)

– Phone Evon: 076 2932742 if you have material you would like her to pick up.