In 2021, Danone launched a pilot project converting plastic waste to create desks for pre-schools to allow children to socially distance and be safe during the Covid pandemic. Every child had their own desk, a consideration taken for granted in many western societies.
Sustaining such a project will require partnerships with like-minded industry partners, waste pickers and regulators to work together. This naturally led to Danone reaching out to B4IG to help them build a valued win-win model for all stakeholders. This initiative is aptly called Masi-bambi-sane, which in an African Xhosa language means ‘let’s work together’.
What was created as a programme reacting to a societal need, has the scope to achieve its ultimate goal to address many other shortcomings of plastic recycling. This includes increasing the recycling rate of polystyrene yoghurt cups and providing employment for waste pickers.
As part of the pilot, Danone installed collection bins in 13 schools where children can recycle their yoghurt tubs. Children are taught about the significance of recycling to create a healthy planet and have been shown how plastic can be given a second life, and in this case 500 desks were ergonomically designed for younger children.
The partnerships that Danone is seeking is one that works as a collective to give plastic value, by applying past lessons to help look into the future possibilities. The ultimate goal is to create a circular economy for waste – imagine if school desks were never made from wood again but from recycled plastics or schools were built from eco-bricks that were created from plastic.