Orange bags: contractors threaten court action. Picture: AfricanNewsAgency(ANA) Archives
Durban - A group of contractors involved in the award-winning orange bag recycling project have threatened to take the municipality to court over its failure to provide residents with the orange recycling bags used to separate recyclables from ordinary household waste.

Monday the city admitted there were currently no orange bags, but said it was working hard to finalise a new contract for the supply of the bags.

“The city apologises for the delay in the supply and delivery of the orange bags With the new contract coming up, we do not foresee future problems. The city is concerned about the non-availability of orange bags,” said Mandla Nsele, the spokesperson for the municipality.

Last week the contractors sent a lawyer’s letter, in which they gave the municipality seven days to start supplying the usual quantity of the orange bags.

The six companies are among those contracted by the city for the orange bag programme.

Their work includes delivering the plastic bags to each household and picking up the orange bags after they have been filled with recyclable waste.

The companies then sort out the waste and sell the recyclable material to recyclers.

They argue that the municipality’s failure to supply them with bags is costing them money. The companies entered into a contract with the municipality for the collection and distribution of the orange plastic bags.

“Under the contracts the municipality is under obligation to deliver and/or make available recycle bags to our clients,” reads the letter.

They then claim that the municipality has failed to make available or deliver a reasonable number of the orange recycling bags for the past 12 months.

This in turn has prevented them from fulfilling their obligations and resulted in financial loss.

“Members of the public have lodged complaints about the lack of bags, which affects our clients’ good will and reputation because they are responsible for designated areas within the municipality,” reads the letter.

The orange bags project has been mired in controversy over the past few years.

Earlier this year The Mercury revealed how a company was awarded a R90million tender to produce millions of orange plastic bags, despite the company allegedly not having any capacity or expertise to do so.

The company failed to deliver on its first order in 2015 and ended up entering into an arrangement with a competitor, which produced bags on its behalf that, according to a forensic investigation, did not meet the specifications.

The contract was only terminated last year and, this year, the company was blacklisted by the city as per the recommendations of the city’s investigations and integrity unit.

In March the city announced that it had appointed another company, Verigreen, to supply residents with the orange bags.

Yesterday Nsele said the orange bag programme is a successful one, adding that the city has an obligation to supply the orange bags “as this is one of our key focus areas, to get the communities to recycle, thus necessary arrangements are in order to continue with the Kerbside Orange Recycling programme”.

The Mercury