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Article by Arcelor Mittal SA 25 February 2013

Collect-a-Can marks two decades of recycling

Collect-a-Can is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, having evolved from a small clean-up company into one of the most successful metal can recycling companies in Southern Africa.
Collect-a-Can, whose shareholders are ArcelorMittal South Africa and beverage can manufacturers Nampak, was set up in 1993 when just one in five used beverage cans in Southern Africa was recycled.

Today, the recovery rate is more than 70% and the company also recovers aerosol, aluminium, food, oil and paint cans.   Collect-a-Can's aim is to prevent used packaging, predominantly cans, from ending up in landfill sites, by recycling or reusing them.  But what makes Collect-a-Can truly exceptional is the company's collectors. Between 100,000 and 160,000 people are able to put bread on the table from the living they make by collecting used cans. More than ZAR20m (US$ 2.25m, [Status]) a year is paid to the company's collectors, many of whom have no other source of income.

More than recycling cans
The company is involved in many social initiatives across the country, finding different ways of educating young people about the importance of not littering. Millions of school children from between 300 to 500 schools join the yearly competitions and workshops that Collect-a-can hosts.

The company was also an integral force in establishing Canvironment Week, an international awareness campaign launched in South Africa by Nampak Bevcan that revolves around educating people about the value of cans and how recyclable they are.

Collect-a-Can also recently hosted National Library Week in collaboration with a local radio station, promoting the value of education, libraries and books in a country with a high rate of illiteracy.

As Collect-a-Can celebrates 20 years of operations, it is running a nationwide can-art competition with high schools, in which students must apply their creativity to used cans and a competition to design their new ad campaign with tertiary education institutes in underprivileged areas.

Happy 20th anniversary to an initiative that is innovatively addressing poverty, educating youth and helping to change the face of South Africa.

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