South Africa’s 2020 goal of recycling 70% of its paper waste has been met three years early. The Paper Recycling Association of South Africa (Prasa) made the announcement when revealing the 2017 statistics and recycling rates.
According to Prasa, 1.3 million tonnes of paper, cardboard and liquid packaging have been diverted from landfill, representing 70% of the total paper available for recovery. Books, archived records and non-recyclable paper such as loo rolls are excluded from the statistics.
More paper is collected for recycling
“We are delighted with our latest statistics as it shows us that people are recycling more,” says Prasa operations director Ursula Henneberry. The target of 70% was established in 2015 and was met at the end of 2017.
Henneberry says that over seven million tonnes of paper and packaging have been recovered for recycling in the last six years. More South Africans are taking care to recycle paper and more recyclable waste is being collected and processed.
Paper consumption has declined
Despite the increase in recovery and recycling rates, the consumption of paper products has actually declined recently. According to the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (Pamsa), printing and writing paper consumption has decreased from 1.4 million tonnes to 1.3 million, in South Africa.
“The decline is, however, in line with international trends. The average annual per person consumption in South Africa has dropped from around 50kg in 2011 to close to 40kg in 2017,” says Pamsa executive director Jane Molony.
“Some of this reduction is attributable to cost saving, electronic media substitution and the country’s weak economic growth,” she says. Schools and universities have begun implementing electronic alternatives to paper, such as Google Scholar, for their curricula and assignments.
These statistics prove that the South African waste management industry is on par with international standards and that as a nation, we can lead Africa to a more responsible and sustainable future.
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