Singita’s definition of sustainability takes into account the importance of environmental sensitivity as well as the good health and wellbeing of our guests and staff. Caring for the planet and caring for people go hand-in-hand; creating safe, equitable working conditions, nurturing local identity and heritage, and supporting local economies while contributing to the sustainability of our natural environment.
The business operates within the One Planet Living framework, which is based on ten guiding principles of sustainability that encourage people to enjoy happy, healthy lives within their fair share of the Earth’s resources while leaving space for wildlife and wilderness. Running all of our lodges and urban offices this way plays a major role in achieving our overall purpose to preserve and protect large areas of African wilderness for future generations. One of the most basic practices of this philosophy is recycling as much as we possibly can. At Singita Kruger National Park and Singita Sabi Sand, this is done in partnership with a local community initiative known as the Acornhoek Recycling Facility, which is owned and managed by Happiness Lubisi. Previously an environmental educator, Happiness was familiar with the importance of recycling when the opportunity to get more hands-on with the issue arose in the form of the managerial position at Acornhoek. The facility had originally been set up by the local municipality but in 2017, she purchased it and set about improving and expanding the operation.
A local service provider collects Singita’s recycling twice a week and delivers it to Acornhoek, which is just over 100km from Singita’s private concession in the Kruger National Park. Here, Happiness and her team of 34 employees from neighbouring communities – most of whom are women – sort waste and operate the baling machines. As well as a small number of safari lodges, Acornhoek also processes recycling from schools, shopping malls and local businesses, providing a much-needed service to the community. During a recent visit by Singita’s Sustainability Co-ordinator, Dr. Andrea Ferry, the team was busy baling tin cans to sell on to Collect-a-Can; a can recovery and recycling organisation. Glass, plastic and paper are also sold on to other South African manufacturers such as Consol and Sappi, who re-use them in the creation of new products.
When asked what message we should take back to Singita, Happiness said: “Please send more recycling!”
The facility comprises a large, well-organised receiving area where huge bags of sorted recycling await processing, as well as a warehouse containing five baling machines of various sizes, some undercover storage areas, and an administrative office. Happiness’ vision for Acornhoek includes the establishment of a pig farm on some spare land bordering the property. Appropriate organic waste matter, (some of which currently goes to another pig farmer in the region and to municipal landfill), would provide free feed for the pigs while the farm itself creates further employment opportunities for the local community.
Acornhoek’s function of significantly reducing waste that goes to landfill while helping to generate income for rural families is in perfect alignment with Singita’s approach to conservation; a philosophy underpinned by the three inter-dependent pillars of biodiversity, community and sustainability. In terms of the latter, Singita aims to reduce waste in two ways: firstly, by carefully considering what we procure and, secondly, by appropriate recycling. Singita’s Southern African lodges produced more than 136 tonnes of recycling including glass, tin, plastic, paper and organic matter last year; 136 tonnes of waste which did not go into landfill. Other projects, like replacing single-use plastic water bottles with filtered water and reusable aluminium and glass bottles at the lodges, have reduced the associated plastic waste by 97%. Zero waste is a goal that Singita is striving for at every level of the business and our success so far demonstrates a shared desire by all staff to make a difference through our daily activities.
The One Planet Annual Review of Singita’s sustainability progress in Southern Africa provides some fascinating insight into the achievements and challenges of the past year. According to Ben Gill, International Technical Manager for One Planet Communities, “Singita’s commitment to One Planet Living is providing a benchmark for sustainable tourism – demonstrating how conservation, local economic development and high-quality tourism can reinforce each other.” You can read the full review here Singita One Planet Annual Review 2017/18 »