Bergvliet Primary School was announced as the 2019 national winner of The Glass Recycling Company’s (TGRC) annual schools competition, earning the school a total of R50 000 in prize money. What makes this achievement even more impressive is the fact that this is the third year in a row that the school has been crowned the winner. The school first got involved in the competition in 2013. According to Eddie Kruger, the school’s estate manager, what began as a sideline initiative has led to active recycling becoming embedded within the school’s culture. “The school has taken environmental issues to heart. We believe teaching young people at an early age how to look after our environment is vital to our health and future,” he says.During the run of 2019, the school collected 75.8 tons of glass bottles and jars (over 227 000 glass bottles).Kruger says this would not have been possible without the support of the school’s dedicated teachers, learners and parents. “We have a team of recycling champions headed up by Ingrid Godfrey, who helps coordinate our recycling depot. Without these dedicated champions we would not be able to handle the sheer volume of recycling waste that lands up at our depot,” he says.The school’s inter-houses system (Eksteen, Jeffcoat, Hertzog houses) further encourages learners to participate. Learners who bring bags of recycling earn “points” for their houses and the house with the highest points earns a reward. Each year, teachers also appoint a recycling champion within each classroom who then helps to drive recycling efforts.To further leverage recycling within the broader community, the school approached various local businesses and clubs. At present, the school collects glass and recycling from Dawn Patrol Moth hall, Madeiras Restaurant, Cle De Cap Home, Meadowridge Tennis club, Meadowridge Athletics club, Bergvliet sports club, The Loft in Tokai, Adam’s Farm and Primrose Park, a block of flats in Plumstead.Bergvliet Primary has also introduced various recycling initiatives to teach learners about caring for their environment and community. For example, 2-litre bottles are installed around high-traffic areas across the school grounds. Learners use these bottles to dispose of their plastic wrappers and waste, creating eco-bricks. The TGRC competition saw schools compete across Gauteng, the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The three top-performing schools in each participating region received R30 000 (first prize), R20 000 (runner-up) and R10 000 (third prize). The school crowned the national winner received an additional R20 000 to its regional first prize money. Throughout the run of the competition, there were also monthly prizes awarded to the top-performing schools per region that managed to collect the most glass per month.Schools within each of these areas were invited to apply for the placement of glass banks. Apart from placing glass banks at the schools, TGRC also supplied curriculum-compliant material to empower educators to facilitate a holistic view of the glass recycling process. “Besides enabling the schools to play a pivotal role in reducing pollution within each participating province, this competition also assists in fostering entrepreneurship among the youth, imparting valuable skills that will help them during the next phase of their educational journey, as well as when they enter the job market,” said Shabeer Jhetam, CEO TGRC.The second and third place in the province went to Kenridge Primary School and Bay Primary School, respectively. Altogether the three winning schools in the Western Cape collected around 124 tons of glass – the equivalent of 372 000 glass bottles or 20 fully grown African elephants. By recycling these glass bottles and containers, these three schools have saved enough energy to light a compact fluorescent light-bulb for five years and 10 months or power a computer for over 33 months.