A first of its kind self-sufficient laundromat service was opened in the heart of the City Bowl on Friday 29 January.
LaundReCycle is a pilot project and is the country’s first energy and water self-sufficient laundromat.
It is based at the Streetscapes Urban Farm in Roeland Street and forms part of a three-year research project managed by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland and Water Rescue in Paarl.
Streetscapes is a Cape Town division of Khulisa Streetscapes, a non-profit organisation (NGO) that tackles chronic homelessness in Cape Town by offering a long-term community-based rehabilitation programme that uniquely combines housing, work and necessary psychosocial supports
The laundromat will be used to test the technology with real users and customers in order to further develop a marketable solution that can provide laundry services in rural or urban locations that do not have access to direct power, fresh or wastewater connection.
Johann du Bois, social enterprise and operations manager at Khulisa Streetscapes, says: “The technology of the LaundReCycle is based on a natural and resource efficient water treatment process, using biological treatment methods.”
He says the innovation lies in the fact that the treated water is constantly reused for washing in a closed cycle.
“Water losses are filled up by rainwater and the whole system is powered by off-grid solar power.”
Devi Bühler, LaundReCycle project manager from Zurich University of Applied Sciences, says Streetscapes Urban Farm is the ideal place to test this innovation with real users, allowing them to work closely with the community to understand their needs and requirements.
Du Bois says the laundry service is open to anyone from Monday to Friday from 8:00 until 15:30.
He says currently there is no service fee but adds that donations are welcome.
He says they are hoping to provide a service to local restaurants and businesses who are currently struggling due to the lockdown.
Jesse Laitinen, project manager and founder of Streetscapes, says: “We continue promoting green sustainable jobs for the most marginalised individual, ensuring nobody in Cape Town is left behind. In the post-Covid world, this will be more important than ever.”
Du Bois says they also have Streetscapes farms in Vredehoek, and at Trafalgar High School.
He adds that in future they hope to become an urban space where people can come and socialise.
Ian McMahon, ward councillor for ward 115, says: “To offer this service to homeless persons is a wonderful act, as we know, there is limited places for homeless people to access these services, so it’s a great initiative.”