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Become a part of the circular economy: reuse, recycle, recover!

A circular economy is a new way of looking at product life cycles and how we consume raw materials. The linear model of consumption that we have used for centuries (take, make, use, dispose) is not sustainable. It requires us to use valuable raw materials and natural resources, which has negative effects on the planet and the climate.

A circular economy stems around the idea that we can feed waste back into the supply chain – essentially reusing and recycling our refuse to create valuable products that can be resold. This reduce, reuse, recycle model of consumption is far more sustainable and better suited to products like plastic and recyclable materials.

As society becomes more aware of its impact on the planet, people are finding more innovative ways to reuse their waste and retain its value, rather than letting it sit in a landfill. Plastics are a prime example of valuable recyclable materials that often get dumped in waste management facilities.

We need to embrace a circular economy

A circular economy will only work if there is input from all sectors of society. The government needs to work alongside businesses, communities and individuals. Every South African will need to embrace recycling and actively participate in sustainable waste disposal practices in order for a circular economy to thrive.

Public education and raising awareness of the importance of recycling is just one step to improving recycling rates. The plastics industry is also playing its part by working to improve the recyclability of its products.

The future of plastics is more sustainable

The industry is researching alternative ways to make plastics, such as creating products from plant-based polymers. This will allow the plastics to break down and decompose if left in the environment. The future of the plastics industry revolves around sustainability and the circularity of the products’ life cycles.

A factor that influences the recyclability of plastic is its colour. Black plastic can be difficult to recycle because the infrared scanning sensors at recycling facilities cannot detect the black pigment. Luckily, many of South Africa’s recycling centres use manual labour to sort plastic waste so the black plastic is not a major problem.

Recycling facilities can be upgraded

Although plastics are perfectly suited to a circular economy, the recycling infrastructure in South Africa will need to be upgraded if this system is to become a reality. Our waste management facilities will play a vital role in turning plastic waste into high-quality, reusable products that can be fed back into the supply chain.

The national government can support these facilities and invest in the upgrades in order to establish a circular economy in South Africa. This will not only help recyclers to increase their handling capacities but will also allow them to improve the quality of their output products. Private companies can also help to provide funding for the support of our recycling network.

A circular economy is not a farfetched idea, nor is it unattainable. By embracing recycling, improving the recyclability of plastic products and investing in waste management facilities, South Africa could benefit from a sustainable economy. By reusing plastic waste and turning it into saleable products, the country could benefit from a cleaner environment and retain the value of plastic at the same time.

 

Are bioplastics the next big thing for packaging?

Bioplastics, not to be confused with biodegradable plastics, are a relatively new field within the South African plastics industry. There are many types of bioplastic that can fulfill different applications and uses. It is important to remember that the term “bioplastics” does not necessarily mean biodegradable or compostable. 

 

Bio-based plastics are not always biodegradable and biodegradable plastics are not always bio-based – although in many cases, they are. Bioplastics simply mean that the main source of raw material is natural and plant-based. They are not made from fossil fuels and oil, which means that bioplastics have the potential to be carbon-neutral materials.

 

Can bioplastics solve the problem of litter?

 

While the use of bioplastics won’t actually solve the problem of littering, they are better for the environment should they be discarded irresponsibly. Every single human has a responsibility to avoid littering and illegally dumping their waste. Instead, waste should always be placed in a refuse bin or in a recycling bin.

 

Many bioplastic products are biodegradable. If these items are dumped in the environment and if oxygen is present, they can be decomposed with microorganisms without producing harmful byproducts during the decomposition process. If no oxygen is present, then the microorganisms will produce methane gas.

 

The process of biodegradation often requires certain environmental conditions to be present; the right temperature, presence of oxygen and microorganisms, enough humidity, etc. Bioplastics and biodegradability should never be an excuse to litter.

 

It is important that people remain conscious of the impact of their waste on the environment. No matter what type of waste material – whether it is paper, glass, metal or plastic – responsible waste disposal is the first step in removing litter and pollution from the environment.

 

Can bioplastics be recycled?

 

Recycling in South Africa and around the world requires different plastic polymers to be separated from one another. Bioplastics will also have to be separated from the waste stream and recycled with their conventional counterparts. For example, bio-based PET bottles can be recycled with oil-based PET plastic.

 

The only snag comes with biodegradable and compostable plastics. There is currently no separate recycling stream for post-consumer biodegradable or compostable plastics in South Africa. Only the bio-based conventional materials such as bio-PET and bio-PE-HD can be processed currently. There is still much research and development that needs to be done before bioplastics become a popular packaging material.

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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.

Call for nominations for 2019 Caroline Reid Award

Plastics SA is in search of nominations for the 2019 Caroline Reid Award. This award is given to the ‘Clean-up Champion of the Year’ – the South African who has shown outstanding commitment to community clean-ups and recycling initiatives. The individual may have worked to clean litter and pollution in the marine, coastal or inland environments. 

The nominees serve as role models for caring people who are concerned about pollution in the natural environment. The 2019 Caroline Reid Award will be presented to the clean-up champion on 23 January 2020 at the National Conference of Marine and Coastal Educators Network in Cape Town. The winner will also receive a R10 000 cash prize, a floating trophy and exposure in local and international media as environmental role models.

Who was Caroline Reid?

“Caroline Reid was an ocean conservation warrior who sadly passed away in 2018 after a tragic accident. The entire South African conservation community lost a dynamic champion who coordinated hundreds of beach and diving clean-ups and who was central in the work done with the loss of the plastic pellets in the Durban harbour in 2017,” explains Plastics SA sustainability director Douw Steyn. 

“She helped to increase the awareness of plastic pollution on the KwaZulu-Natal coastline,” adds Steyn. Reid was a national champion when it came to combating pollution in the marine environment. This annual award has been established to honour Reid and her continuous efforts to protect the oceans and beaches. It will also honour those individuals who give up their time to make the environment a cleaner, healthier and safer space.

Rules for the 2019 Caroline Reid Award

The entry and nomination form can be downloaded via Cleanupandrecycle.co.za. All nominations must be submitted by Friday, 1 November 2019. No late submissions will be considered. To meet all the requirements, the checklist and motivation on the submission form must be completed and returned.

Nominees and the winner may be asked to participate in public awareness initiatives linked to the 2019 Caroline Reid Award. All nominees and applicants for the award will be asked to submit a short profile on themselves. Shortlisted nominees will then be required to submit three high-resolution photographs of themselves, to be used in publicity campaigns.

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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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.