Johannesburg, 14 September 2020: South Africans have heard the “please recycle” message time and time again. However, with National Recycling Day around the corner, it is a crucial opportunity for citizens to truly reflect on their waste habits and become more conscious of the impact of waste that is so often thrown away on a whim. Leading up to National Recycling Day on 18 September 2020, leading South African recycler, Mpact Recycling is encouraging the country to look at recyclables in a different way.
Every time a recyclable item of waste gets put into your general dustbin rather than being sorted for recycling, municipal transport costs to and from the landfill are incurred. However, when waste is recycled, its potential is recognised and great positives emerge. South Africa’s paper recovery rate is well above the global average of 59.3% (ICFPA, 2019 Sustainability Progress Report) and according to PAMSA sitting at 68.5% for 2019. In fact, 1.2 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging was diverted from landfills in 2019. On the plastic front, the recycling rates for PET bottles, for example, your fizzy drinks and water bottles, has improved over the years. Latest stats show 62% of all PET plastic beverage bottles produced in SA in 2019 were collected for recycling – up from 55% in 2016. South Africa is therefore ahead of international standards and is currently a recycling world-leader.
South Africa’s recycling infrastructure has developed to make it as easy as possible to #SeparateAtSource as certain recyclable materials can be grouped together. This is called “multi-recycling” and simply means separating all your recyclables from your general waste. In fact, all your paper-based recyclables can go in one clear refuse bag, making recycling accessible and easy. The balance of your recyclables such as glass, plastic and cans can be placed in a separate bag, purely because they often carry liquid which can contaminate paper and cardboard.
So, before you throw away your cereal boxes, milk and juice cartons, toilet rolls, cardboard, white paper, plastic bottles, glass and cans – rather look at that waste as having some form of value.
“How recycling is collected differs from community to community. There might be a formal recycling collector, collectors who service particular residential areas, or local community collection points such as schools, retirement villages or shopping malls,” says John Hunt, Managing Director of Mpact Recycling.
Good recycling practices can also contribute to economic growth and job creation, and reduce social and environmental costs. This in turn positively impacts the circular economy which refers to waste items being re-used or recycled, to be made into something new. It ensures they continue to contribute valuably rather than reaching landfills where they become useless. According to a 2015 report by the CSIR, just 10% of waste in South Africa was being recycled. Impressively, this small percentage still contributed R8.2 billion worth of resources into the South African economy. Today, the CSIR estimates that the recycling industry provides income opportunities for around 60 000 – 90 000 waste pickers alone.
“Understanding the ways recycling works in your community, and the significant implications of not recycling, is a great way to start making your own positive impact on the volume of waste on South African landfills,” says Hunt.
Big change can start with small actions, right in your home. The lockdown this year has shown us just how much packaging that we as consumers go through on a daily basis. Think about every piece of waste you throw into your dustbin and look at it as throwing money into the very same dustbin. Then, once you know how easy it is to save your recyclables from the dustbin, you will see how easy it is to recycle in your community.
Follow @MpactRecycling on social media to keep up to date with the latest recycling news or visit www.mpactrecycling.co.za to get more details on their various programmes.