Shandy Tema was born in the village of Ga-Mphahlele in Limpopo and now lives in Alexandra, Johannesburg, where she established and runs the Electronic Waste Cooperative of South Africa.
The cooperative started recycling waste products more than 20 years ago. It is now an integrated system of environmental management programmes and projects. The aim of the cooperative is to achieve the dream of a “self-realised grassroots empowered way of living”, says Tema, and this can be achieved through reducing pollution in Alexandra and ensuring the greening of a clean environment.
Tema has personally been involved in conservation efforts since the age of 12. “I’m an advocate for recycling, reduce, reuse — my daily work is developing plans to see the youth being active in the environment where they live,” she says.
The Electronic Waste Cooperative of South Africa works by recycling electronics, office equipment and home appliances, to name but a few. The cooperative also repairs, refurbishes and promotes reusable products.The success of the cooperative can be attributed to its “collaborative approach and partnering with existing stakeholders to ensure effective cooperation between communities and companies for sufficient action to save the country and the world at large — the aim is to build together”, says Tema.
Tema has been involved in the curriculum development of e-waste issues, as part of professionalising the industry to ensure proper coordination and management within the waste management sector, in areas such occupational health and its practices and licencing.
“We are aiming for a clean environment through e-waste recycling with the view of changing how communities view the environment and, ultimately, creating zero waste and saving the planet,” she says.
The aim of the co-operative is to achieve the dream of a “self-realised grassroots empowered way of living”.