Cape Town’s Street Sleeper wins gold at 2017 Recycling Awards

Cape Town’s Street Sleeper wins gold at 2017 Recycling Awards

Recycling used billboards made from end-of-life PVC banners has not only helped keep thousands of homeless city dwellers warm and dry, but the initiative has now also received recognition from South Africa’s plastic recycling fraternity, South African Plastic Recyclers Organisation (SAPRO).

Street Sleeper walked away with a Gold Award in the category “Novel and Artistic Products” at the SAPRO Best Recycled Product of the Year awards ceremony, held in Johannesburg.

“Street Sleeper is a Cape Town-based initiative that uses innovation to tackle the social and environmental challenges facing the homeless community. We upcycle PVC advertising billboards destined for landfill into survival sleeping bags,” says the founder of Street Sleeper, Oliver Bain. 

Since 2014, Street Sleeper has made more than 8 000 sleeping bags (1 500 last year alone). Each bag uses four square metres of end-of-life PVC banners, thus upcycling more than 32 000 m2 (13 t) of PVC billboards. Bags are distributed through feeding centres, like-minded businesses and volunteers who wish to actively engage with their homeless neighbours.

SAPRO chairman Rudi Johannes highlighted that the empathetic nature of the product and the volumes of goodwill impressed the panel of judges. Delanie Bezuidenhout, CEO of the Southern African Vinyls Association (SAVA), accepted the Gold Award on behalf of Street Sleeper. Delanie noted that SAVA was honoured to be a proud supporter of this project, which transforms the negative impact of waste into immediate relief for those living on the street – at the same time promoting social upliftment through dialogue and storytelling. 

“We are thrilled to have won the Gold Award as our business is all about innovation,” says Bain.

“We are always looking for different ways of tackling challenges, and being recognised by the recycling industry and judges in this category is not only a huge honour, but also fits well with how we go about running our social business. While it is always a pleasure to be recognised for work done, the manufacturing of the bags is only a small part of our story. We would be remiss not to recognise and thank all the volunteers, donors, corporate supporters and employees who are involved with Street Sleeper and enable us to do what we love.”

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