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Cape Town’s #KeepItClean campaign hits the streets

05 Jun 2017

‘Stompies’ and street refuse were placed on display in the Cape Town CBD by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District’s (CCID) autumn Urban Management campaign, in an attempt to drive home the message that mess costs a lot of money.

To bring this message home, Beesley says, one of the activations during the month-long campaign involved installations on Bree Street and in St Georges Mall showing what 2 100kg of street refuse (the amount the CCID collects every day to a cost of R26 000) looks like: 700 bulging refuse bags.

“It’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it, or Cape Town’s CBD would be a lot worse for wear,” says Richard Beesley, manager of the CCID’s Urban Management department.

“Between 1 November 2016 and 31 January 2017, the Cape Town CCID’s Urban Management precinct managers coordinated the cleaning of 8 074 drains as well as the removal of 807 incidents of graffiti and a whopping 370kg of cigarette butts tossed on pavements across the 1.62km2 CCID area. In fact, the CCID’s cleaning teams remove hundreds of kilos of 'stompies' from the CBD each year – to be exact, 1 722kg last year alone.”

Beesley says these are just some of the top-up services that the CCID’s annual #KeepItClean campaign highlights, executed by the teams it deploys via professional cleaners J&M and NGO Straatwerk, and one has to wonder what the CBD would look like if the CCID and its people weren’t there to offer these extra services.

“The #KeepItClean campaign is a great opportunity to create public awareness around just how rates and special levies are spent to deal with the clean-up of often illegal littering – including 'stompies' on the ground and dumping waste directly on the streets. Imagine how much better we could use the money spent on clearing up illegal littering if this was available to spend on other projects CBD stakeholders could enjoy in public spaces,” says Beesley.

To bring this message home, Beesley says, one of the activations during the month-long campaign involved installations on Bree Street and in St Georges Mall showing what 2 100kg of street refuse (the amount the CCID collects every day to a cost of R26 000) looks like: 700 bulging refuse bags.

Beesley says a display area contained a topical or fun question, changed on a regular basis, and asked smokers to vote with their butts. The idea was to encourage them to discard their stompies in a designated bin rather than on the sidewalk or in the gutter. And, judging by the crowds it drew and the number of butts it held at the end of each day, the activation was a huge success.

“However, keeping on top of the litter bugbear has its challenges, and the CCID’s autumn #KeepItClean campaign is also an ideal time during which to experiment. To this end, the CCID deployed a new-style ciggie bin which was tested outside a variety of call centres on St Georges Mall and in Adderley Street. Inspired by UK-based charity Hubbub’s ‘ballot bin’ rolled out in cities including Manchester, this one turned an outdoor smoke into the same experience the office water cooler offers – a chance to debate the issues of the day,” says Beesley.

He says the display area contained a topical or fun question, changed on a regular basis, and asked smokers to vote with their butts. The idea was to encourage them to discard their 'stompies' in a designated bin rather than on the sidewalk or in the gutter. And, judging by the crowds it drew and the number of butts it held at the end of each day, the activation was a huge success.

Beesley says questions included ‘Belieber or Non-Belieber?’ to coincide with the Justin Bieber concert (smokers were equally divided on this) and ‘Is it okay to have an office romance?’ (Clearly, smokers thought it was).

“We’ll be taking the lessons learnt from this experiment to see how we can move forward. Clearly, behavioural change can be effectively achieved if you engage directly with the public in a fun or highly interactive way,” says Beesley.

He says along with new trolleys acquired earlier this year by Urban Management to make the work of the CCID’s road maintenance and graffiti teams easier, other #KeepItClean elements activated in May included street-pole posters (with targeted humourous messages for Capeonians) and the distribution of over 30 000 CCID-branded pocket ashtrays. These pouches have a flame-retardant lining, allowing a smoker to stub out a 'stompie' responsibly and dispose of it later when there isn’t a bin nearby.

Beesley says the work of the CCID’s Urban Management teams is why the Cape Town Central City has a reputation for being the cleanest CBD in the country. Even after a Friday or Saturday night of the usual downtown revelry, during which incredible amounts of illegal littering occur, come morning and the streets are clean. No daytime office worker or visitor would be any the wiser.

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