The Sunday Mail
AFRICA Albida Tourism (AAT) is intensifying efforts to bolster the allure of one of the world’s seven wonders by keeping Victoria Falls clean through waste management.
The Victoria Falls Recycling (VFR) project is aimed at recycling waste in the town, thereby reducing the amount of litter on the streets and the volume of waste going to the dumpsite.
The project is expected to spread to household level this month following the success of the initial stage which targeted collecting recyclable waste at commercial sites.
Sponsored by AAT and co-ordinated by a local environmental conservationist, Charlene Hewat, the VFR project has already had an impact in protecting the environment.
Furthermore, it has become a form of employment and money making venture for Victoria Falls residents. It employs locals who collect waste and are paid per kilogramme.
The success story of the VFR project has seen it scooping three awards only a year after its launch. These include the Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents’ Industry Environment Award (September 2018) and the Recycling Champion of the Year Award by the Corporate Social Responsibility Network Zimbabwe (November 2018).
Last month, the initiative got international recognition by winning the Engage Africa Award at “We Are Africa”, a leading travel show in Cape Town.
“We are Africa” awards celebrate the best in independent and brilliantly executed travel ideas.
Launched in March last year, VFR has so far collected more than 24 tonnes of paper, plastics, glass, beverage cans and packaging for recycling, among others.
Collected waste is further recycled in Harare and South Africa to make plastic bags and piping, among other things.
Hewat, who is the project co-ordinator, said the success of the initial plan has made them realise the importance of spreading the project.
“We initially began operations recycling paper and plastics. Collection at source is the focus of the project and we started off with hotels, lodges and restaurants. We will move to household collection mid-2019,” she said.
Since Victoria Falls does not have a proper landfill site, plans to expand the project are moving at a fast pace, although a few technicalities still need to be cleared.
“We have done a MoU with the council and it has gone through the first stage of clearance. Two stages now remain. We will be expanding once we secure the land. Right now, the place we are working on is too small for the bigger project,” she explained.
Through the project, recyclable goods will be collected from the Victoria Falls community. Materials that will be recycled include glass and beverage cans.
Other partners in the waste collection initiative include the Victoria Falls Municipality, Greenline Africa Trust and Petreco Zim.
Over the years, AAT has undertaken a number of projects aimed at improving, promoting and safeguarding local tourism, particularly in Victoria Falls and surrounding areas like Hwange.
The hospitality giant is also involved in anti-poaching campaigns.
AAT chief executive Ross Kennedy is glad that their ingenuities are continuing to receive recognition.
“We are immensely proud to be involved in the founding, funding and operation of VFR. The next stage is to build a new recycling centre, where a retail outlet will also be set up to sell products created from recycled waste,” revealed Kennedy.
“Tourism is a lucrative business that nonetheless requires players in the trade to be proactive so as to stay ahead of the game.”
Last year, AAT won the Achievement in Marketing Award.