The HOPE statue placed in the water where the Liesbeeck and Black Rivers converge, has become a much-loved and well-known sight for motorists travelling along the M5 highway near the N2 interchange.

The brainchild of Fred du Preez, an art director and self-proclaimed riverman, this symbol of pollution-free rivers and oceans has recently received a brand-new floating base made of recycled polystyrene which has been mixed with a special cement aggregate supplied by Envirolite Concrete.

“Polystyrene and other plastics are often the most visible form of plastic pollution in our rivers and waterways because they are lightweight and float. The fact that litter that possibly could have ended up in our oceans, have been put to good use to create a new floating base for HOPE, makes this whole initiative so much more impactful and poignant,” remarks Du Preez.

400 litres of recycled polystyrene beads (10kg) were collected from the Kraaifontein MRF and used to create the base that measures 2.4m x 2.4 m and is 200mm thick. Although it is lightweight, it is strong enough to withstand a load of 500kg. Inside the frame are several 2-litre PET bottles which are used to keep the frame afloat, as well as compacted polystyrene. This same special polystyrene and cement mixture that was used for the base is widely used throughout South Africa for building and construction projects ranging from low cost housing to designer homes and shopping malls.

According to Du Preez, they are currently working on plans to build a new, bigger HOPE statue, that will be double in size and incorporate even more recycled elements, to be placed further upstream in the river.

“The state of the river has improved periodically over the past 8 years, but there is still too much rubbish that ends up in the water and on the riverbanks. It is my sincere wish that the HOPE statues communicate the importance of keeping plastic pollution out of the environment. Every person has a responsibility to discard their waste carefully. Recycling your plastics requires little effort on your part, but it makes the world of difference to the environment and the future we are leaving for future generations. It is this hope that will shape and build our future. Where there is hope, there is life!”