SOUTH AFRICA – Producer responsibility organization (PRO) Petco has honoured brands that are making impressive strides in ensuring the sustainability of their products.

During its annual awards, Petco recognized 11 brands and industry change-makers in nine categories, including Recycling Partnership Gamechanger, Kerbside Collection and Sorting, and Top Woman in Recycling.

Among the winners was Woolworths, which introduced South Africa’s first polyolefin shrink-wrap sleeve on PET bottles for its iced tea range, ensuring these bottles can be recycled.

Tetra Pak was also awarded for its innovative school-based recycling campaign that educated nearly 20,000 learners about the importance of recycling liquid board cartons, resulting in the collection of 9.5 tonnes of cartons.

Petco CEO Cheri Scholtz emphasized that the accolades aimed to spotlight unsung sustainability heroes and initiatives throughout South Africa.

“The awards once again recognize South Africans who are making an extraordinary contribution towards building a circular economy for our country,” said Scholtz.

“These community members and organizations are helping to create income streams in the waste economy and divert post-consumer packaging from landfills and from ending up in the environment. These are critical yet often unrecognized strides in contributing to a sustainable future for our country.”

Since 2004, Petco has facilitated collecting and recycling PET bottles and jars and their associated labels and closures. In 2023, it began doing the same for liquid board (LBP) packaging.

Award categories summary

Design for circularity

Woolworths won for its recyclable shrink-wrap sleeve on iced tea bottles. This enabled effective bottle-to-bottle recycling and reduced packaging waste from PET to polyolefin shrink sleeves. Feroz Koor, head of sustainability for the Woolworths Group, highlighted the company’s collaboration with suppliers and recyclers to develop this innovative solution.

Environmental education and awareness initiative

Tetra Pak, Woodlands Dairy, and Petco won for their ‘Choose to Recycle’ schools competition, which educated 19,520 learners in 22 schools, recycled 270,000 packs, and provided recycling bins and reverse vending machines.

Tetra Pak sustainability manager Masale Manoko stressed the importance of teaching children to recycle and appreciate the environment to create more ecologically conscious adults.

Recycling partnership gamechanger

AECI and GreenWay Africa with Heineken were joint winners. AECI supported 13 buy-back centers, sustaining over 280 jobs and impacting over 33,000 beneficiaries.

They also supported Masekethele, which turns recycled polyester into products, aiding over 150,000 women.

GreenWay Africa and Heineken’s Project Vuselela in KwaZulu-Natal supported waste pickers by collecting and delivering waste materials to buy-back centers, ensuring efficient recycling and positively impacting local communities.


Infinite Industries won for upcycling waste plastics into construction boards, diverting 655 tonnes of plastic waste from landfills and offering sustainable building materials.

CEO Maggie Infante noted the expanding market for high-quality, recycled materials and emphasized their role in the movement toward a circular economy.

Local authority recycling innovation

Belinda Langenhoven won for her significant contributions to waste management in the Western Cape.

Her waste entrepreneur support program benefitted 35 enterprises and continues to support waste picker integration programs, promoting recycling awareness and cooperation.

Top woman in recycling

Refiloe Ramadikela, founder of Hendrina Recycling in Mpumalanga, was recognized for processing 706 tonnes of recyclables in 2023 and promoting environmental responsibility through community engagement and impactful initiatives.


Suzan Banda was awarded for founding Inhle Indaloyakhe buy-back center in Daveyton. The center employs 474 waste pickers, engages 20 schools, and has expanded operations to Johannesburg.

The center’s recent establishment of a second recycling facility demonstrates Banda’s entrepreneurial success and commitment to sustainability.

Kerbside collection and sorting

Recycle’M in Pietermaritzburg and Oasis retirement resort in Cape Town were joint winners.

Recycle’M promoted weekly kerbside collections benefiting 12 suburbs and 25 businesses, while the Oasis Green Team achieved a 92% waste diversion rate, collaborating with service providers and promoting recycling education.

Best community recycling initiative

The Fichardt Park Neighbourhood Association in Bloemfontein won for recycling over 1,400 tonnes from 2017 to 2023, involving 2,791 households, and enhancing recycling efforts across the community.

“The recycling project ensures a better quality of life for all residents, fostering a safe, clean, and caring environment,” said Duart Hugo, the association’s chairperson for environment and recycling.

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