THE national industry body for PET plastic recycling, PETCO and the African Marine Waste Network recently highlighted solutions to the issues of marine and land-based pollution in South Africa. Extrupet, Africa’s leading PET and HDPE bottle recycling company, joined forces with PETCO, the industry body responsible for PET recycling in South Africa, and the Kenton-based African Marine Waste Network, to donate nine desks and 36 chairs to Lake Farm Centre. The furniture was manufactured by Extruwood, using the caps and labels of plastic bottles recycled at Extrupet.Janine Basson, stakeholder relations manager for PETCO, highlighted the important role that partnership initiatives like this play in sustainable waste management. “At PETCO, we believe that plastic bottles are not trash. When they are recycled, they are made into new bottles for water or beverages or recycled into new and useful products, such as polyester fibre for duvets and pillows, or jeans and T-shirts,” Basson said. “Similarly, the manufacture of these desks from recycled bottle tops and labels demonstrates that, when there is an end use for recycled plastic, we can ensure it is kept out of our environment and within the circular economy,” Basson added. African Marine Waste Network director, Dr Tony Ribbink, said that he was heartened by the proactive approach being taken by key players in the plastics industry.“PETCO and Extrupet are taking a leadership role in conservation and community support. They are helping to keep plastic out of the ocean, and putting it to good use on land instead,” Ribbink said.According to volunteer Marjorie Moore, the donation to Lake Farm went a long way to benefit the centre’s literacy programme. “The literacy classes instil a sense of pride and self-worth and promote independence and life skills while developing healthy attitudes. Having proper desks and chairs creates more of a classroom environment and enables more people with disabilities to join our classes,” Moore said. She added that a further benefit was that the donated furniture was comfortable, yet also virtually indestructible, meaning it typically would not need to be replaced.Joint managing director of Extrupet, Chandru Wadhwani, said the company is thrilled to be able to support the initiative. “Given the severe shortage of desks in South Africa and many other parts of the world, and with prevailing issues of deforestation, there was a pressing need for alternative resources to be tapped.“These desks and chairs provide a real win-win solution, as they benefit both people and the environment. They divert waste that would otherwise have ended up in our landfills or oceans,” Wadhwani said.