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Four cool facts about plastics recycling

The main benefit of most plastics is that they are recyclable. We can keep existing materials in circulation and reuse most plastic products over and over again. Plastics are a valuable material – they are cheap to manufacture and are used in every aspect of daily life. They also require little energy to produce and recycle, making these durable products carbon-efficient.

The South African recycling industry is one of the best in the world. In 2018 alone, the sector processed 352 000 tonnes of plastic waste back into raw material. That’s 15% more than in Europe. The industry provides income opportunities for around 60 000 South Africans, contributing just under R2.3-billion to the economy. Here are four more facts about plastics recycling that you may not know:

1. Used packaging isn’t always recycled into new packaging

Recyclers clean, shred and extrude plastic waste into small pellets that are then sold back to plastics manufacturers as raw material. While certain polymers are separated from the waste stream and processed together, it does not necessarily mean that they will be turned into similar products – PET bottles don’t always get recycled back into PET bottles. Some of these plastics are turned into toys, garden furniture, clothing, duvet inners, floor mats and even car bumpers.

2. Bottles can be recycled into clothing

Building on from the previous point, plastic bottles are often turned into woven fabrics for the clothing and textile industry. The PET plastic waste is cleaned, shredded, melted and stretched into thin threads of plastic. These threads are then woven together, just like cotton, to produce rolls of material that can be turned into shopping bags, t-shirts and even fleece jackets.

3. Plastics recyclers want your lids

Many people discard their lids in the general waste bin. Bottle caps, butter tub lids and other removable lids are just as valuable as the actual containers themselves. In fact, recyclers want these plastic products because they are usually clean, label-free and easy to process. Consumers should always put the lids back on the containers and discard them in a recycling bin.

4. Plastic shopping bags can be recycled

There is a myth that plastic shopping bags cannot be recycled. While this may have been true a decade ago, new technologies and recycling processes have allowed recyclers to process thin grocery bags. The same goes for cling films, zip-lock bags, product wraps and other flexible packaging materials. In fact, shopping bags are 100% recyclable, meaning that there is no wasted material in the recycling process.

These four facts about recycling show why it is such an important industry in modern life and how it supports tens of thousands of South Africans. Every citizen has a responsibility to dispose of their plastic waste in a responsible manner by placing it in a recycling bin. Companies and plastics manufacturers are already doing everything they can to ensure that these products are used properly and are recycled effectively.

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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.

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

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

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.

Plastic recyclate end-markets in South Africa

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.

Plastic recycling: South Africa versus Europe

South Africa’s latest recycling statistics have been released and the country is doing well. We have some of the highest plastic recycling rates in the world. The industry provides income opportunities for just under 60 000 South Africans, many of which are informal collectors and recyclers.

How does the local recycling sector fare against other countries? South Africa’s mechanical plastic recycling statistics show that we are better off than Europe. In 2018, South Africa achieved a 46.3% input plastics recycling rate by converting 352 000 tonnes of plastic refuse into raw materials. In the same year, Europe managed a 31.1% plastics recycling rate. South Africa recycles 15.2% more of its post-consumer plastic waste than Europe.

This trend has been visible over the past decade. In 2017, the domestic plastic consumption in Europe was 51.2 million tonnes. Of this volume, 27.1 million tonnes were post-consumer plastic waste that was collected for recycling. This represented an 11% increase over the past 10 years. Over the same period of time, South Africa has grown its recycling tonnages by 64%.

Since 2015, South Africa started to report on input figures to align with international reporting methods. This has allowed Plastics SA to more accurately compare the statistics of South African recycling to those of the rest of the world. The statistics above are all for input recycling rates.

Different views on recycling

South Africa and Europe have differing views and philosophies when it comes to recycling. The South African recycling industry is based on economic principles, whereas in Europe, recycling is based on environmental principles. We recycle because it is a valuable industry that creates jobs and supports tens of thousands of families. Europeans recycle because it is good for the environment.

In South Africa, recycling needs to be a profitable venture for it to be viable; in Europe, it is the right thing to do for the planet. Only 64% of households in South Africa have access to formal waste management services. There are no landfill restrictions on recyclable waste. Europe regulates and restricts certain recyclables from entering landfills.

Despite these differences, South Africa still manages to recycle a larger proportion of its plastic waste than Europe does. Besides PET recyclers, South African facilities manually sort the waste by hand. European facilities use infrared spectrometers to sort their recyclables from non-recyclable waste. This means that South Africa can recycle certain products that Europe cannot, such as black plastics and thin packaging films.

South Africa’s plastics recycling rates have shown rapid and continuous improvement over the past decade. We have become a world-leader in mechanical plastics recycling. As the volumes of waste grow every year, so too will the volume of recyclable refuse. This means that the plastics recycling industry will go from strength to strength.

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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.

The future of plastic waste management in South Africa

South Africa has a strong and resilient plastics recycling industry. Issues of waste collection and plastic recycling rates are hot topics at the moment – evoking emotional responses from various sectors of society. The fact is that a normal life would not be possible without plastics but the responsible and ethical disposal of these products is an issue in most countries around the world.

The future of plastic waste management lies in environmental protection, citizen education and participation from all sectors of society. Plastics are far too valuable to simply throw away. They need to be reused, recycled and fed back into a circular economy. This will ensure that the value of plastics is retained and sustainable economic growth can be unlocked.

“Recyclables are a valuable resource and should be removed from the solid waste stream before reaching landfill,” says Plastics SA executive director Anton Hanekom. “All stakeholders, including producers, manufacturers, brand owners, consumers, waste management companies and recyclers – have to work together to make plastics the material of choice, to manufacture locally, process it efficiently and to manage the end-of-life products in the most efficient manner that will benefit the consumer, the industry and the planet,” he explains.

The following steps will pave the way for the future of plastic waste management in South Africa:

1. Develop waste management infrastructure

Plastics need to be collected and removed from the environment. The existing waste collection infrastructure needs to be improved in order to boost recycling collection, sorting and processing. Plastics need to be separated from non-recyclables at the source – in the homes of citizens, at restaurants, stores, hotels and businesses. Almost 34% of South Africans do not have access to any waste management services, so they need to be better equipped to deal with their waste.

2. Reduce contaminants in the recyclable waste stream

Just separating plastics from non-recyclable waste is not good enough. Often, these plastics are contaminated with food scraps and beverage remnants. This can affect the quality of a batch of recycling. A collaborative effort is required to minimise the contaminants in the incoming waste stream. Citizens can rinse their plastic waste with water – even non-potable greywater will do. Restaurant owners, baristas and retailers can start to improve the cleanliness of their recyclable waste too by rinsing the plastics.

3. Help recyclers sustain their operations

South Africa has around 300 recycling businesses. No matter their size, it is an ongoing struggle for recyclers to keep their businesses profitable with the rising costs of electricity, transport and labour. Many new entrants in the recycling industry are also not legally-compliant, which puts an unnecessary burden on the rest of recyclers. South Africans can support their local recyclers by dropping off their recyclable waste at these facilities instead of leaving it up to their waste management providers – many of which send the waste straight to landfill.

4. Develop alternatives for hard-to-recycle plastics

There are certain types of plastic that are difficult to recycle or are not economically viable to process. Alternative solutions need to be developed by manufacturers and recyclers for these plastics, such as turning them into cement aggregate for building blocks. Alternative methods of plastics waste disposal may also lie in chemical recycling and using waste to create electricity. Manufacturers can also work on making these types of plastic easier to process and more cost-effective to recycle.

The future of effective plastic waste management lies in collaboration between citizens, legislators, waste management companies, the government and plastics manufacturers. While Plastics SA works towards long-term solutions to plastic pollution, infrastructure needs to be improved, educational awareness needs to be implemented and responsible waste disposal needs to be enforced. 

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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.