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Realising the shared value opportunity of recycling polystyrene, Old Mutual’s Mutualpark has teamed up with the Polystyrene Association of SA to increase corporate recycling.

Old Mutual’s Mutualpark in Cape Town is one of the largest corporate head offices in South Africa. With more than 9 000 employees working at this 166 000m² office space, it is to be expected that a lot of waste would be generated daily at this premises. However, operating as a responsible business is at the heart of Old Mutual’s ethos and strategy.

Done Rankin-Rowley, contracts manager at Old Mutual's Mutualpark seen here with Adri Spangenberg of the Polystyrene Association, standing in front of large bales of polystyrene ready to be collected and recycled.

Done Rankin-Rowley, contracts manager at Old Mutual’s Mutualpark seen here with Adri Spangenberg of the Polystyrene Association, standing in front of large bales of polystyrene ready to be collected and recycled. Credit: Polystyrene Association SA

Environmental sustainability is one of the five pillars of Old Mutual’s Responsible Business strategy and thanks to the concerted efforts of the Mutualpark Waste Management programme, the company has managed to divert waste from landfill to more optimal and useful source streams. Moreover, it strives to educate visitors and employees alike about the importance of recycling.

“We conducted a waste audit at Mutualpark in 2015, after which Old Mutual developed an integrated waste management policy which formed part of our application to the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) to be recognised as a green building. Upon completion of this submission, Old Mutual was proudly awarded a 5-star rating under the existing building rating category – making the company the largest existing building to achieve the level of environmental excellence in the Southern Hemisphere,” says Old Mutual customer services executive general manager Heloise van der Mescht.

“Our strategic approach to find better, more environmentally friendly and sustainable ways of working, has assisted us to have more control over our resources. It has allowed us to run better, more cost-efficient operations and enabled us to reduce areas of risk, while simultaneously being committed to being environmentally responsible,” adds van der Mescht.

One of the environmentally responsible areas that Old Mutual is currently pioneering in the field of recycling is their recent partnership with the Polystyrene Association of South Africa. According to Polystyrene Association CEO Adri Spangenberg, “Old Mutual employees, as in many companies, utilise polystyrene packaging such as hamburger clamshells and coffee cups for their take-away lunches and refreshments throughout the day.  This was an obvious area for responsible intervention and consideration.”

Van der Mescht says Old Mutual was delighted to discover that there is a market for post-consumer polystyrene and that it is recycled into a wide variety of different products. “It was on that basis that we were ready to go back to the polystyrene and our partnership with the Polystyrene Association began,” she notes.

The polystyrene waste that is generated from the Mutualpark premises gets cleaned by a dedicated team of workers on site, who then ensure that the packaging is collected and baled. Approximately 50 bales of polystyrene are collected every six weeks by Greenlite Concrete for use in lightweight concrete and screeding applications. The left-over food waste is also attended to and sent to a nearby fly farm in the Western Cape.

In addition, the Polystyrene Association has committed to assist Mutualpark with ongoing educational campaigns aimed at reaching employees and visiting customers as well as the surrounding communities in Cape Town about the importance of recycling polystyrene. “We are also hoping to identify an Old Mutual beneficiary in need of a new building that can be built with their polystyrene donations,” concludes Spangenberg.