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Why participating in community clean-ups is important

September was Clean-up and Recycle Month in South Africa. A number of beach clean-ups and community recycling events took place over the past few weeks. Citizens should still get involved in these events whenever they occur because the benefits to the environment can be substantial. 

By collecting and recycling litter from our beaches, parks, rivers and cities, South Africans can help to boost the economy and protect the environment at the same time. Waste pollution is one of the biggest threats facing our oceans, rivers and public spaces. The South African government has legislated a number of environmental protection laws and waste management regulations in order to minimise the amount of litter that ends up in these natural spaces.

South Africans have started to become acutely aware of the impact of waste and pollution on the environment. Community clean-ups are becoming more popular and well-attended, which is great news. Tackling litter and recycling waste are two simple solutions that every citizen can use in the fight against pollution. Every person can take the decision to reduce their waste output, recycle in the home and refrain from littering.

Manpower is important when it comes to clean-ups

While reducing waste and recycling more are two solutions to prevent pollution, there is still a need to take part in community clean-ups to remove litter from the environment. The more people that participate in these events, the better the results. More eyes and hands to find and remove litter means that far more waste is collected from rivers, parks and beaches.

There are technological aids that can help to trap and remove waste, such as litter booms in rivers and floating waste-skimming devices in the ocean. However, manpower remains one of the most vital tools when it comes to effective litter collection and pollution eradication. Technology can help, but it cannot be the final solution. Every citizen can play a role in environmental protection as well.

Simple acts such as recycling plastic, paper and glass waste can have a big impact on the environment. Picking up litter on the daily commute to and from work can really make a difference to public spaces. Small decisions can have big results and they all start with the individual.

Local acts for national benefit

Community clean-ups take place in every major city and many small towns in South Africa. Beach clean-ups are popular events in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. Cities such as Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein have their own community clean-ups too. These events bring communities together for a single cause – environmental protection. The consequences of which can be far-reaching.

These localised events can have big payoffs in terms of national environmental benefits. They not only encourage community interaction and participation, but they also enable business networking and a sense of charity. Community engagement can lift the spirits of individuals who take part. 

Community clean-ups can show South Africans that we can work together towards a common goal. They may also inspire further changes from key decision-makers. Shop owners may start recycling initiatives of their own, retailers may invest in recycling vending machines and restaurateurs may implement food collection drives. 

These gatherings can also effect changes within local governments and municipalities. Community clean-ups can inspire mayors to install more recycling bins and draft harsher laws for illegal dumping. These local acts can inspire national change. It is ultimately the responsibility of every South African to do their best and dispose of their waste in a responsible manner.

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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

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. 

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.