An ambitious project by a local hospitality group is going to make Zimbabwe’s prime resort area, Victoria Falls a green and sustainable city.

Victoria Falls Recycling, an initiative of Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) in partnership with Greenline Africa, Victoria Falls Municipality and PetrecoZim, is working with various stakeholders among them local hotels, lodges, residents and retailers to ensure a clean, healthy and safe environment for future generations.

AAT group operations manager Andy Conn said Victoria Falls Recycling was the result of growing concerns by the hospitality group’s directors that Victoria Falls town, the home of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was losing the battle against plastic.

“Following some heart-wrenching incidents in which a number of elephants died with traces of plastic in their digestive systems, certain companies and individuals funded the electrified fencing of the municipal dumpsite. The next step was to create a recycling centre,” Conn said.

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“Africa Albida Tourism engaged Charlene Hewat to spearhead the Victoria Falls Recycling project, which has played a massive role in eliminating plastic, glass, paper/cardboard and cans from the dumpsite. These materials are baled and removed from Victoria Falls. The goal, however, is to create a local, sustainable industry to manufacture useable items such as bricks and crafts from the recyclable waste that we collect.”

According to AAT, Victoria Falls was growing and it was crucial that as much waste as possible is recycled, thus reducing the amount of litter on the streets and waste landing on the dumpsite.

Victoria Falls Recycling has collected and baled more than 24 tonnes of waste for recycling in its first nine months of operation.

The waste includes 9,4 tonnes of paper and cardboard, 8,8 tonnes of plastics, nearly 3 tonnes of glass, 1,2 tonnes of kaylite, 926kg of cans and 730kg of Tetra Pak packaging.

Moreblessing Ndlovu, a supervisor at Victoria Fall Recycling, said the project had empowered several youth and women apart from improving cleanliness in the resort area.

Ndlovu said hotels separate their waste at source before bringing it for recycling at the centre.

She said every month they produce 10 bales of paper weighing up to 250kg each, as well as up to a tonne of PET plastic which comes from the dumpsite.

Hewat, a prominent conservationist said under the project Victoria Falls should become one of the cleanest towns in the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area.

“I remember when we were kids, we were called litterbugs if we polluted,” Hewat said.

“But now we see kids and people in fancy cars throwing papers, including our Parliamentarians who were here in Victoria Falls recently littering everywhere. I am sorry, but if they (MPs) can’t get it right how about ordinary Zimbabweans?”

Hewat said despite such setbacks, Victoria Falls Recycling was working well with the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Council of Tourism and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce among other stakeholders who have adopted areas to clean up.

“There is a buy-in from everyone to make Victoria Falls the cleanest and greenest tourism destination in Africa,” she said.

Hewat said the project has grown rapidly and will relocate to a bigger site to be provided by the municipality soon.

She said waste collected was being send to bigger recycling plants in Harare and South Africa where it is turned into plastic bags, clothing and fuel.

Hewat said they have a holding bay in Bulawayo where processed waste is stored before being exported to South Africa.

“But we will be starting paper recycling here once we get the bigger space from the local authority and we will also look into how to make furniture using waste paper,” she said.
Hewat said Victoria Falls Recycling was also into tree planting to make the resort town greener.

She said the project was looking into making roof tiles using aluminum cans while empty bottles were now being turned into water glasses, chandeliers and candle holders among other things which are being sold to hotels and tourists.

Victoria Falls Recycling was also looking into making artefacts from waste.