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Keeping our environment clean is a collective responsibility

Keeping our environment clean is a collective responsibility

As the global population increases rapidly, societies around the world need to come up with more efficient solutions to controlling waste. Excess litter and refuse pose a serious threat to the environment. Illegal dumping and littering are two of the major contributors to pollution in our rivers, oceans, public spaces and countryside. Keeping our environment clean is a collective responsibility that we all share.

Every citizen has a role to play in protecting the environment from pollution. We need to eradicate litter and avoid irresponsible waste disposal practices immediately. There is no excuse for plastic waste in the environment – it should always be recycled and thrown away in a responsible manner. Make a point of finding out more about what can and can’t be recycled, and start separating at home. Plastic is a valuable resource that is too important to simply dump and never use again.

We need to reduce, reuse and recycle our waste wherever possible. This will keep litter out of the environment. The South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries is concerned about the amount of pollution in our rivers, dams and oceans. Every South African needs to take responsibility for their waste and disposal habits.

Pollution threatens our food security

The rivers, oceans and groundwater in South Africa are not the only environmental features that are threatened by excess waste and pollution. Our farmland and soils are also at risk. Researchers believe that 61% of South Africa’s arable land has been degraded due to pollution. Food security is already a concern for South Africa as the agricultural sector works hard to keep up with the ever-increasing food demands of our growing population.

Clean farmlands and healthy soils are vital for a thriving society. The beauty of nature is that it can self-heal if it is kept free from pollution and contaminants. Our soils will slowly regenerate nutrients if we avoid illegal dumping of chemical waste and littering of household refuse. South Africa’s wetlands are an example of a natural filter that can provide a sustainable source of clean groundwater, yet these are often used as illegal dumping grounds for a variety of waste materials.

What does environmental rehabilitation cost?

Keeping our environment clean and healthy is inexpensive, but rehabilitating pollution affected areas will cost the taxpayer millions. The Water Research Commission (WRC) has been investigating the cost of environmental rehabilitation. Their research shows that cleaning and restoring a 125-hectare (1.25 square kilometre) wetland costs around R1.7-million.

A wetland of this area can purify enough water to save the country R130-million in purification costs. This can benefit society and businesses, such as mines, that require pure water for their survival. The savings far outweigh the costs of rehabilitation, but we should not let our natural spaces be contaminated in the first place.

Waste eradication is a collective responsibility that needs to be prioritised. Government, businesses and citizens can work together to keep our environment free from litter and pollution. These are some of the leading threats to the South African environment at the moment. A healthy environment will benefit society in infinite ways, so we all need to play our part in responsible waste disposal. Find out more about how you can make a difference by visiting Cleanupandrecycle.co.za 

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Plastics SA helps to tackle plastics pollution with ocean clean-ups

Ocean clean-ups at Table View in Cape Town

During the month of September 2019, Plastics SA is on a drive to clean up the environment and promote recycling in South Africa. From Monday, 16 September to Saturday, 21 September 2019, we will celebrate Clean-up and Recycle SA Week with numerous litter collection campaigns and ocean clean-ups

“Research has shown that 85% of the litter found in oceans is from land based sources. Our activities are aimed at informing the public of the positive impact that responsible waste management can have on the world’s oceans and reminding them that plastics should be properly discarded and recycled after use, not end up in the oceans or the environment,” says Plastics SA sustainability director Douw Steyn.

Plastics SA tackles marine pollution through ocean clean-ups

Plastics SA has already participated in a few ocean clean-ups this year. In June 2019, Plastics SA collaborated with Clean Surf Project, the Shoprite Group, Toti Beach Management and Sapphire Coast Tourism to eradicate litter from the Toti Lagoon on the kwaZulu-Natal coast. We donated plastic refuse bags and gloves to the volunteers for this clean-up initiative.

At this event, Plastics SA also launched the KZN Marine Waste Network – South Coast. This initiative focuses on the waste management and recycling of plastics in the Amanzimtoti and Umbogintwini River Catchment Area. It also aims to educate the surrounding community on the importance of responsible waste disposal practices. This network aims to install a number of litter booms and host regular litter clean-up campaigns in the vicinity of these rivers and lagoons.

Working with partner organisations to find sustainable solutions

“The plastics industry, globally and locally, is committed to finding solutions to end plastic pollution found in our oceans, rivers and other water sources. We have made impressive strides towards reaching this goal with the forming of the South African Initiative to End Plastic Pollution in the Environment earlier this year,” says Steyn. 

By partnering with other organisations, such as the Shoprite Group and local community projects, Plastics SA is able to implement sustainable solutions to river and ocean pollution. The protection of the environment is a vital step in building a healthy and safe country for all. However, these solutions require buy-in and participation from every citizen and business. 

As we commemorate a month of clean-ups and recycling initiatives, help the plastics industry improve the environment by taking part in a community clean-up in your area. Together we can turn the tide on plastics in the oceans!

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Clean-up and Recycle SA Week takes place mid-September

Clean-up and Recycle SA Week takes place mid-September

Plastics SA and the entire industry is committed to cleaning the environment and removing litter from our rivers, beaches, oceans and public spaces. The annual Clean-up and Recycle SA Week takes place from 16 to 21 September 2019, and Plastics SA will be getting involved for the 23rd year running.

“Clean-up and Recycle SA Week began as a project of the plastics industry and Ezemvelo/KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, in 1996,” says Plastics SA sustainability director Douw Steyn. “Since then, it has grown to include the participation of all the packaging streams (i.e. paper, glass, metal and tetra packaging) as well as the support of major plastic raw material suppliers, converters, brand owners and retailers, PROs (Product Responsibility Organisations), recycling bodies, and conservationists and government,” he explains.

“During this week, we all unite our actions around the common goal of removing as much litter as we possibly can from our environment. We also aim to teach South Africans how to dispose of their waste in a responsible way, by highlighting the importance of recycling materials that can be used to create new products, generate employment and reduce our impact on the environment,” says Steyn.

Calls to host your own clean-up event

Anyone can host their own clean-up initiative during the week-long campaign. Plastics SA encourages businesses, schools, communities and government departments to organise litter clean-ups in their towns, suburbs and surrounding areas. Where possible, Plastics SA will provide support for these initiatives by donating garbage disposal bags and offering advice on proper recycling practices.

Any clean-up initiative that is organised will be hosted on the Clean-up and Recycle SA website. This will allow residents to find an initiative in their area and get involved. “This week will culminate in National Recycling Day (Friday, 20 September 2019) and South Africa’s participation in the International Coastal Clean-Up and the ‘Let’s Do It!’ World Clean-Up (Saturday, 21 September),” Steyn reveals.

In 2018, the global Clean-up and Recycle Week attracted support from 17 million volunteers living in 158 countries, including South Africa. Tens of thousands of clean-up events took place around the world during the week, despite six tropical cyclones, wars and civil unrest. This was the largest organised clean-up to ever take place in a time span of 36 hours.

South Africans can get involved to make a lasting impact on the environment

Plastics SA is proud of South Africa’s involvement in last year’s event. “Being concerned about plastics that end up in the environment and trying to do something about it, is nothing new to the plastics industry. In fact, we have been working consistently to bring about change for more than 20 years by educating society and working with the designers, producers, consumers and recyclers of plastic goods and packaging,” says Steyn. 

“We have also been lobbying provincial, national and local government about the need for improved waste management. Whilst it is great to see the growing public support and awareness of the dangers of plastic pollution, we realise that the challenge is far from over,” he explains.

“To truly reach our objectives of sending zero-waste-to-landfill, dramatically reducing our environmental footprint and creating a circular economy, we need everybody’s participation. The issue of waste in the environment is a global problem, and the solution will, therefore, require a consistent, global effort,” Steyn concludes.

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

International Coastal Clean-up Day

International Coastal Clean-up Day

September is Clean-up and Recycle Month in South Africa. A number of community clean-ups and waste collection campaigns are being organised around the country in order to minimise pollution in the environment. One of the important days to note this month is International Coastal Clean-up Day, taking place on Saturday, 21 September 2019. Be part of this worldwide initiative.

Coastal communities around South Africa are encouraged to take part in beach clean-ups and environmental rehabilitations to remove litter and pollution from these areas. The coastline is a vital environment that is prone to litter. Floating refuse can get washed down rivers and be brought in from ocean currents.

Citizens can organise or take part in clean-up initiatives in their areas on Saturday the 21st. By working together to remove debris and litter, residents in seaside towns can help to improve the state of their environments. This will protect the multitude of animals that share the beaches and waters around these coastal communities.

Plastics SA supports all types of pollution eradication and encourages consumers to recycle their plastic waste. We will be taking part in some of these initiatives on International Coastal Clean-up Day. Get in touch with your local community leaders and environmental organisations to find out what clean-up campaigns have been planned in your area. Or, you could visit the Clean-up and Recycle South Africa events page for more information.

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

National Recycling Day South Africa

National Recycling Day South Africa

September marks national Clean-up and Recycle Month. Numerous community clean-ups and litter collection campaigns are being organised around the country in order to minimise pollution in the environment. One of the important days to note this month is National Recycling Day, taking place on Friday 20 September 2019. 

Anyone can host or take part in a recycling initiative in their area. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about the importance of recycling waste. Not only does it give products such as metals, plastics, glass and paper a second life, but recycling also helps to keep this waste out of the environment and landfills.

South Africa already has some of the highest recycling rates in the world, but there is always room for improvement. Citizens are urged to separate and recycle their household waste in order to boost sustainability and environmental cleanliness. Recycling is also a major contributor to the South African economy – nearly R3-billion was injected into the local economy in 2018 thanks to the recycling industry.

Plastics SA supports all types of pollution eradication and encourages consumers to recycle their plastic waste. We will be taking part in some of these initiatives on National Recycling Day. Get in touch with your local community leaders and environmental organisations to find out what recycling initiatives have been planned in your area. Alternatively, you can visit the Clean-up and Recycle South Africa events page or the National Recycling Forum website for more information.

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Plastics SA hosts four clean-up projects

Participants at one of Plastics SA four projects

September 2019 is Clean-up and Recycle SA month – a time to unite and tackle litter and pollution in the environment. Plastics SA encourages all forms of pollution eradication, and as such, has already hosted four clean-up projects this year. We have installed a river catchment project, hosted Operation Clean Sweep, run educational demonstrations and led a fishing line bin installation project. Find more about these projects below:

River catchment project

Plastics SA recently teamed up with environmentalists in Durban to tackle ocean pollution. The team installed a litter boom where the Umbilo and Umhlatuzana Rivers meet before they enter the Durban Harbour, to catch any floating waste before it enters the Indian Ocean.

These booms are designed to trap litter that is washed down the rivers from upstream. The booms also allow for the trapped litter to be collected from a single point. These devices doe not pose a risk to any species found in the rivers. This river catchment project has helped to eradicate a large amount of litter that would certainly have found its way into the ocean environment. 

Litter collected in a river boom

Operation Clean Sweep

Operation Clean Sweep has been an ongoing project of Plastics SA since 2017. This initiative aims for zero plastic pellet, flake or powder loss at plastics manufacturing facilities in South Africa. By preventing particles of plastic from being washed into drains or blown away in the wind at the source, we can minimise the presence of the particles in the environment.

The Operation Clean Sweep pledge has been signed by a number of plastics manufacturers, producer responsibility organisations, recyclers, retailers and representative associations. Every segment of the plastics industry has a role to play in minimising plastic pellet loss, by implementing good housekeeping and pellet, flake, and powder containment practices.

Educational initiatives

Plastics SA partnered with AquaAmazing to host a stand at the Sasol Techno X Exhibition. Over 19 000 visitors attended this event in Sasolburg, including 4000 learners from 78 schools. We used the platform to highlight the value of plastics and educate attendees on the importance of recycling plastic waste. 

AquaAmazing performed nine shark dissections during the exhibition to reveal the threat of marine pollution to its creatures. As a result, Plastics SA and AquaAmazing received the award for the most talked-about exhibitor at the event.

Fishing line bin installations

Discarded and disused fishing line can pose a serious threat to marine life. It can cut into the skin of creatures and entangle any moving animal swimming past. This project aimed to raise public awareness of the negative impacts of discarded fishing line on sea creatures, as well as to encourage fishermen to dispose of their fishing line in a responsible manner.

Plastics SA teamed up with the Dyer IslandConservation Trust, the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Southern Africa (WESSA), MacNeil Plastics and the South African Plastics Pipe Makers Association (SAPPMA) to create a nationwide network of fishing line recycling bins. This fishing line bin project has already led to the installation of 386 bins at various beaches and ports around South Africa.

One of the main goals of the project is to install 500 bins across the country’s coastline and as far afield as Mozambique, where South African holidaymakers regularly go on deep-sea fishing excursions. To date, over 350 kilograms of discarded fishing line has been removed and recycled. Over 500 fishing hooks have also been retrieved from the bins.

These four projects are just a few that have been organised or supported by Plastics SA. During the month of September 2019, we will also be getting involved in a number of clean-up projects, including Clean-up and Recycle SA Week (16 to 21 September), National Recycling Day SA (20 September), International Coastal Clean-up Day (21 September) and ‘Let’s Do It’ World Clean-up (21 September). Come join us and help to clean our environment from litter and pollution.

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

September is Clean-up and Recycle SA month. Diarise these dates!

September calendar book

September is all about cleaning up our environment and recycling plastic waste in South Africa. In fact, September has been dedicated to clean-up and recycling campaigns by the plastics industry. There are a number of initiatives taking place this month that are centred around pollution eradication, litter clean-ups and recycling drives.

Here are some of the dates that you can mark down in your calendar. All South Africans are welcome to take part in these campaigns and do their bit to help rid our environment of litter and pollution.

  • 16 – 21 September 2019: Clean-up and Recycle SA Week
  • 20 September 2019: National Recycling Day SA
  • 21 September 2019: International Coastal Clean-up Day
  • 21 September 2019: ‘Let’s Do It’ World Clean-up

Note these dates in September 2019

Clean-up and Recycle SA Week is an annual event that is organised by Plastics SA. It is intended to encourage the public (adults and school children) to clean-up the environment by picking up litter on their daily commutes. By cleaning schools, workplaces and the streets of South African towns, we can help to protect the environment from pollution and boost recycling rates at the same time.

While the entire week has been dedicated to waste control, there are two important days at the end of the week. Friday is National Recycling Day SA – a day to raise awareness about the importance of recycling plastic waste instead of throwing it in the general waste bin. Then, Saturday marks International Coastal Clean-up Day – a time to get involved in community beach clean-ups and remove all waste items from marine environments.

For those South Africans that cannot participate in coastal clean-ups, they can make an impact on the Saturday by participating in the ‘Let’s Do It’ World Clean-up. This initiative encourages citizens living inland (not near the coast) to participate in community clean-ups and remove litter from parks, roads, city centres and public spaces.

This month is an opportunity for all South Africans to participate in these initiatives and remove litter from our environment. It also presents an opportunity to bolster our recycling sector and give our waste a second lifecycle. September is a month dedicated to a healthy environment that is free from all forms of waste and pollution, so join the cause and take part in community campaigns in your town.

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Key statistics from latest recycling report

Recycling statistics report

Plastics SA recently released the latest recycling report that details the state of the South African plastics recycling industry. South Africa is amongst the best countries in the world when it comes to plastics recycling. Even developed nations with sophisticated collection and sorting systems do not recycle as much plastic as South Africa.

The recycling report outlines a number of statistics and key findings about the industry. Recyclers, waste management companies and the government can use the report to improve current recycling rates and build better infrastructure. Here are some of the major statistics from the report:

  • South Africa collected 519 370 tonnes of plastics for recycling in 2018 – 6.7% more than the previous year.
  • Of this volume, we processed 352 000 tonnes of plastic waste and turned it into raw material and recycled products – breaking the 350 000 tonne barrier for the first time ever.
  • South Africa recycled 46.3% of all plastic products in 2018, whereas Europe only recycled 31.1%, making us a world-leader in mechanical recycling. 
  • South Africa currently recycles around 67% of all plastic PET bottles produced – this figure was 55% in 2016. 
  • Plastics recycling also saved 246 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions; the equivalent to the greenhouse gases produced by 51 200 vehicles.
  • The tonnages recycled into raw materials saved enough barrels of oil to fuel 200 000 cars for one year, doing 30 000 km per annum.
  • Total South African converter demand reached 1.544-million tonnes of virgin polymer – an increase of 3.5% from the previous year and accounting for 0.4% of the world’s plastics production.
  • 34.1% of South Africans do not have access to regular waste collection services.
  • Recycling tonnages have grown by 64% since 2009. 
  • Virgin polymer production has grown since 21% since 2009.
  • 70% of all recyclable materials originate from landfills and other post-consumer sources.
  • South Africa has 300 active recycling companies.
  • The top 30 recyclers in South Africa currently process 54% of the country’s plastic waste.
  • Gauteng has half of all recycling companies in South Africa. They handle 58% of the country’s recyclate.
  • The plastics recycling industry provides direct, formal employment for over 7890 people. The industry creates a further 58 470 income-generating jobs.
  • Through the procurement of recyclables, an estimated R2.3-billion was injected into the South African economy in 2018.
  • The buying prices of recycled plastics grew by 15% in the last year.

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

What do the numbers on plastic recyclables mean?

number symbols on plastic products

Have you ever seen the symbols on plastic products that look like a recycling logo with a number inside? These are called the material identification code. They tell plastic manufacturers and recyclers what polymers are present in the plastic product. These symbols do not have anything to do with the number of times the plastic can be recycled, as is commonly believed.

The identification codes were first developed by the American Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), now called the Plastics Industry Trade Association (PITA). The coding system is used around the world by recyclers to separate and sort plastics so that they can be processed according to the main polymer present.

The numbers on the identification symbol range from one to seven. These numbers are contained within three chasing arrows, forming a triangle around the number. The acronym of the polymer is also displayed underneath the triangle. Here is a breakdown of these symbols and what they mean.

1. PET – Polyethylene terephthalate

The symbol with a 1 is used for PET plastic. PET is one of the most common polymers used for food and beverage packaging. It is used to make carbonated drink bottles, water bottles, plastic jars, punnets, trays, strapping tape and more. PET is widely recycled in South Africa and around the world.

2. PE-HD (or HDPE) – High-density polyethylene

The identification code with a 2 is used for PE-HD plastic. This is a hard and strong form of polyethylene that is used to manufacture milk bottles, fruit juice bottles, plastic drums, buckets, crates, bins and shampoo bottles. PE-HD is recycled in South Africa. Its strength and durability make it ideal for products that need to withstand wear and tear.

3. PVC – Polyvinyl chloride

The symbol with a 3 represents PVC – a sturdy and hard plastic polymer. It is used to create irrigation pipes, tamper-proof medicine seals, shrink-wrapping, conduit, toys, plastic gutters and more. PVC is quite difficult to recycle and requires special machinery. Many small-scale recyclers in South Africa cannot process PVC, so plastics manufacturers have started to replace PVC products with PET. 

4. PE-LD (or LDPE) – Low-density polyethylene

The identification code with a 4 is used for PE-LD plastics and products such as grocery bags, packets, cling film, bubble wrap and sandwich bags. PE-LD is a flexible polymer that is widely recycled in South Africa. Previously, this type of plastic could jam the sorting machines at recycling facilities, but this is not often the case anymore.

5. PP – Polypropylene

The symbol with a 5 depicts PP plastic. This is a temperature-resistant polymer that is used to manufacture ice cream containers, kettles, straws, microwave dishes, garden furniture, bottle caps and takeaway cutlery. PP is also commonly recycled in South Africa.

6. PS – Polystyrene

The code with a 6 is used for polystyrene. There are two types of PS – expanded PS and a hardened PS. Expanded PS is the foam-like material used to make packaging fillers and takeaway food containers. The hardened PS is used to manufacture coathangers, bread tags and yoghurt cups. PS is accepted by recycling facilities in South Africa.

7. Other

The symbol with a 7 is used to denote any other type of plastic polymer. The symbol will display a range of acronyms beneath the triangle, such as ABS, E/VAC, POM, PC, PETG, PA and a combination of these acronyms. Plastics with this code are often made from a mixture of polymers which makes them difficult to recycle, or not recyclable at all. 

Consumers widely believe that if a plastic product contains these symbols, then they must be recycled. In South Africa, materials are only recycled if there is a suitable end-market for the recyclate. These identification codes are used by recyclers to sort the plastics into similar batches for processing.

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Plastic recyclate end-markets in South Africa

Plastic wheel on bin is one of end-markets for recyclate

Plastics recycling is currently one of the best solutions to pollution. However, for recycling to remain a successful and viable industry, there needs to be end-markets with continuous demand. Plastic recyclate is a valuable material that many plastics manufacturers are using to create products.

Plastic recycling has become a focus for many retailers and consumers. This has helped to increase the supply of plastic waste for recyclers. In turn, more recyclate is produced every year – South Africa processed over 352 000 tonnes of plastic recyclate in 2018 alone, surpassing the 350 000 tonne mark for the first time ever.

Suitable end-markets are vital for the sustainability of the plastics recycling sector. They ensure that the plastic recyclate has a purpose and can be sold for the benefit of the South African economy. The country currently exports 5.6% of its plastic recyclate to neighbouring countries and Asia. The rest is used in local end-markets, in conjunction with virgin plastics, if it is of good quality and up to national standards.

Domestic end-markets for plastic recyclate

The majority of plastic recyclate in South Africa is used to manufacture flexible packaging. Just under 20% is used to make recyclable shopping bags, bin liners and packaging film. Grocery bags from major supermarkets are being manufactured with a high content of recycled material which has helped to increase the demand for plastic recyclate in South Africa.

The next biggest end-market for plastic recyclate is clothing and footwear; 14% of recycled plastic is sold into this sector. Recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) fibres make up the bulk of this recyclate for the clothing industry. The rest comes from flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that is used to manufacture gumboots and shoe soles.

The agricultural sector consumes 13% of South Africa’s plastic recyclate. This material is used to produce irrigation pipes, feeding troughs, grain covers, fencing poles and numerous other useful products. The building and construction industry buys 11% of plastic recyclate. These materials are used to manufacture plumbing pipes, plastic fittings, conduit and plasticised floor tiles. Recycled beverage bottles are used for geotextiles and roof insulation.

End-markets that consume less than 10% of recyclate

Rigid packaging consumes 9% of plastic recyclate in South Africa. These products include plastic crates, buckets, pallets, boxes and beverage bottles made from recyclate. A large volume of rPET is also used to manufacture sheeting for thermoformed punnets and trays. rPET is the only recycled material that can, with specialised recycling equipment, be used in food-contact applications.

Recycled polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS) plastics are used to create décor and furniture; accounting for just under 8% of recyclate in South Africa. Recycled PP is used to manufacture products such as chairs, furniture feet, end-caps and plastic furniture components. Recycled PS is used to make picture frames, skirting and bumper rails. A mixture of these recycled plastics can be used to produce wood composite planks for flooring and outdoor furniture and decking. 

The smaller end-market sectors for plastic recyclate include houseware (6%), mining and engineering (4%) and electronic cables and components (3%). South Africa also exports just under 6% of its recyclate to members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and select Asian countries such as China and India.

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

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