The global Zero Waste movement aims to divert 90% of our waste from landfill. Of the more than 300 million tons of plastic produced annually, half goes into single-use items such as shopping bags, cups and straws; and more than 8 million tons of this ends up in our oceans, where it traps and drowns marine wildlife, or is mistaken for food and ingested.

The One Blue Heart gala dinner on February 16, curated by The Good Machine, has proved it’s possible to hold a black tie event that meets the challenge of the Zero Waste movement.

SOLVE@Waterfront is proud to have partnered with the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation (TOAF) and the One&Only Cape Town to conceptualise One Blue Heart, a fusion of sustainable food, slow fashion and ‘artivism’. In addition to raising awareness about the waste stream crisis, it is a fund-raiser, with proceeds going to the TOAF’s Turtle Conservation Centre.

The V&A Waterfront runs an ongoing campaign to reduce single-use plastics, and ultimately to become a plastics-free precinct. The impact of the actions of over 24 million visitors and over 800 tenants, acting in unison, to create an inspiring Waterfront neighbourhood is our purpose. In our development activities, we’ve world-leaders in the innovative use of upcycled plastics, in the form of ecobricks, in major commercial buildings.

The Waterfront’s sustainability strategy – how it manages water, power and waste – is built on a circular design. Already, our recycling center allows us to divert 35% of collected waste from landfill. Further to this, the Waterfront is establishing a pyrolysis plant which converts waste to energy. It’s estimated that between them, the pyrolysis plant and the Waterfront’s extensive solar installations will generate most of the power needed to run a desalination plant. This desalination process, supplemented by blackwater recycling, will largely meet the water needs of the precinct.


• Through our partnerships with NPOs such as SA Harvest and Ladles of Love, the V&A has already eliminated or dramatically reduced any edible food going to waste. We’re already committed, through our food incubator Maker’s Landing, to support locally and ethically sourced ingredients. • SOLVE@Waterfront is running a Plastics Innovation and Circularity Challenge to find solutions to single-use plastics. One of these solutions is the launch of the Zero Waste chef training programme, which it expects will generate significant innovation.
• The One&Only itself is a fine example of the shifts taking place. In August 2022, it set out to improve its waste management statistics. Third-party reporting indicates the hotel has almost halved what it sends to landfill – from nearly 79% to landfill in July 2022, to just 40,3% in December of that year. This includes the diversion of nearly 37 000 kg of organic waste from landfill and into various forms of composting The work continues to reduce that even further.


• One Blue Heart guests have been asked to think about what they wear on the night, and why; and how their choice reflects the growing trend of Zero Waste in the fashion world, where it’s often called Slow Fashion, the polar opposite of fast, seasonal, disposable apparel. Some of the V&A Waterfront’s Zero Waste apparel advocates are playing a part in the evening. • It is a testament to how Adidas, for instance, views the V&A Waterfront’s circularity and sustainability credentials that it chose to open what it described as “its most sustainable retail space in Africa” on the precinct. Globally, Adidas has made a commitment that by 2025, nine out of 10 items sold will feature a sustainable technology, material, design or manufacturing method. • Sealand, which has provided a gift for all One Blue Heart guests. Sealand is a lifestyle brand focused on handmade gear and apparel made from waste and responsibly and ethically sourced materials. • Some One Blue Heart guests have been dressed by Zero Waste designers, some of which are located at the Waterfront, such as Copenhagen Cartel and Helen Melon. Other Slow Fashion champions at the Waterfront include Patagonia, Lara Klawikowski, Freedom of Movement, and, in the Watershed, Research Unit and Mille Collines.


• The Waterfront has a longstanding commitment to bringing upcycling and art together. The Joy from Africa to the World initiative for sustainable festive decorations (beginning festive season 2019) is a charismatic example of upcycling sensibility in action. The initiative has to date supported 150 small businesses and crafters, and 15 graphic designers. In addition, 400 tonnes of decorations have been reused, recycled and repurposed instead of being thrown away. For instance, 2 800 recycled bottles (mainly shampoo and detergent bottles), were upcycled to create colourful chandeliers at The Watershed. In addition to being home to a large number of innovators, entrepreneurs and creative businesses, the Watershed is also a significant attraction for arts-and-crafts-focused visitors to the Waterfront. Joy From Africa is an inspiration to a varied and influential group of people.
• The art showcased – and auctioned – at One Blue Heart demonstrates this mindful sensibility, while commenting on our relationship with nature in general and our oceans in particular. Proceeds from sales go directly to the Turtle Conservation Centre at the Two Oceans Aquarium. The contributing artists include Dylan McGarry, Ardmore, sculptor Robert Rorich, environmental activist and artist Janet Ormond, Marelize Louw, Wilson Ngoni, Michelle Beattie and Elke Knabel.