Waste 2 Wow
Waste 2 Wow is instantly refreshing, like stepping into a colour explosion. They say they’re saving the planet, one billboard at a time. Outdoor advertising billboards are part of our everyday life, yet few people consider what happens to these virtually indestructible vinyls once they’re taken down. By creating a range of practical and trendy recycled billboard products, Waste 2 Wow have captured a niche market and contributed towards job creation.
Waste 2 Wow was originally started in 1999 as part of a non-profit project, Tswelopele Recycling. But after coming on board as an Old Mutual Legends Programme beneficiary in 2007, Waste 2 Wow was registered as a business. “If you want a project to be a successful business, then it needs to be run as a business,” explains the current manager, Maryka Kellerman.
Since then Waste 2 Wow has expanded to employ seven full-time employees, handling about 60 billboards a month and producing more than 500 products. “It’s wonderful to see people who didn’t have jobs now working in a position of responsibility, making product and design decisions,” says Maryka. “And it’s exciting to see how a used billboard lying flat on the ground can be recreated into something that’s usefully unique and artistic.”
Since inception in 2007 the Old Mutual Legends Programme has trebled in size, from 10 beneficiaries supporting 369 jobs to 34 beneficiaries in 2010 supporting 805 jobs. All the beneficiaries are black and more than 75% are women based in rural and poverty node areas. In 2011 the expanded programme has 67 beneficiaries, in nine provinces around South Africa.