EDGE of AFRICA's Recycling Swop Shop


EDGE of AFRICA is a volunteer and Corporate Social Responsibility organisation driving positive change in Africa, founded in Knysna in 2006. Our main focus is on community empowerment and environmental restoration. The Swop shop has been our most effective project for tackle both these objectives and we believe that every community should have access to a recycling swop shop!

About the project

The Recycling Swop Shop was initiated in October 2010 and was modelled on the project that was initiated in Hermanus in 2003. 

The aim of this project is to provide an opportunity for local children to gain an understanding of the value of goods and the concept of exchanging “work” for goods through a recycling exchange incentive scheme. The project also encourages environmental awareness and provides an effective means of keeping the environment clean. We believe that every community should have access to a Recycling Swop Shop as the project is able to meet many needs of disadvantaged communities.

How it works

Local children collect plastic, paper, tins and glass which they bring once a week to the Swop Shop. Their recycling is weighed by EDGE of AFRICA volunteers and depending on the amount and type of recycling the child receives a certain amount of points which they can then spend in the ‘swop shop’. 

The shop is filled with clothes, toiletries, toys & stationery (and the list goes on!) all donated by Knysna locals and International volunteers. There is no money involved in this scheme and the Recycling Swop Shop is entirely reliant on donations and volunteer participation.

Weighing of recycling

  1. Children collect their recycling, clean the items collected, and bag separately (i.e. plastic in one bag, paper in one bag etc.)
  2. The recycling is weighed by EDGE of AFRICA Volunteers and children are given a weighing slip recording the amount of recycling collected
  3. The children take their slip and line up to have points allocated

Allocation of points

  1. Children are allocated points as follows based roughly on how different materials are valued at a buy back centre
  2. The amount of recycling brought by each child is recorded and later entered on to a database so that we can track the amount of recycling collected throughout the year (and also assign prizes to children who have collected the most recycling, attended the most often etc.)
  3. The points received by each child is recorded on their membership card which they then take and line up to go into the shop (the cards are returned when they leave the shop)

In the shop

  1. Each item in the shop has been assigned a point value
  2. Children choose what they want from the shop depending on how many points they have e.g. a pencil is 1 point, a t-shirt is 10 points. Children can choose to save up their points for an item with a higher value
  3. Once a child has made their selection, their membership card is updated to reflect points spent and points left over and the items sold are marked off on our inventory sheet.

Current needs

  1. We aim to expand the project into a new community in Concordia, Knysna we are fundraising for a new container for theproject . The shop is 6.1 m long, 2.44 m wide and 2.59 m high (it is a 20ft container). We have secured the land as part of an ongoing partnership with a local resident.
  2. Manpower: Provided by EDGE of AFRICA volunteers and local residents
  3. Donation needs: stationery, toys, kids clothes, non-perishable foods, kids shoes, dog food, sports equipment etc.

Achievements of the project

  1. Over the course of 2019 we collected a staggering 18,988.90 kg of recycling!!!! This is more than we collected in previous years and around 5000kg more than we collected in 2018.
  2. Since the inception of this project in late 2010 we have collected a total of 200,316.8kg of recycling
  3. Since 2010 over 1500 children have attended the Swop Shop!


We use as much as possible of the collected recycling for other EDGE of AFRICA projects (the remaining recycling is collected by a local recycling company).

The projects that the Swop Shop feed into are our Eco-friendly greenhouses (as part of our wider Food Security Project) and our Business Empowerment project.

Eco-friendly greenhouses

There has been a constant battle with developing vegetable gardens that are exposed to local animals in the informal areas of our Knysna Community. There is also an on-going problem that 2 L plastic bottles block drainpipes causing many houses and streets to flood. In order to tackle these issues we began constructing greenhouses using a wooden frame (making use of alien wood wherever possible) and rows of 2 litre plastic bottles (collected via our Recycling Swop Shop and through local competitions).

We have begun by creating greenhouses at local schools, both to assist the schools in providing food for their students and also to serve as prototypes for the wider community. Our long term goal is to assist individuals in creating their own greenhouses and to develop opportunities for food exchange and business empowerment opportunities.

Business Empowerment

Although still in the planning phases at this stage, recycling is already being collected for this project which will employ local people to create functional products using waste materials. The main objectives of the project are:

  • Create Jobs 
  • Create new trades and skills
  • Give more awareness to the importance of recycling
  • Help Knysna to become an independent economy 
  • Help to keep the environment clean 
  • Attract tourism through the products we produce 
  • Use local waste as a resource  

Contact us for more Information

Dayne Davey

[email protected]

Additional information

Refund policy No refunds


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