Recycling is good for the economy and the environment. Every time a recyclable product or packaging material is disposed of in a general dustbin, instead of in a recycling bin, it impacts the economy. It also increases transport costs as recyclable waste items in landfills are collected, removed and sent to recycling facilities. South Africans need to scrutinise their waste carefully before disposing of it in the general dustbin.
Waste management providers are calling on South Africans to reflect on their waste disposal habits, including businesses and individuals. We need to start being more thoughtful about how we dispose of our waste. Separation of household waste into recyclables, non-recyclables and organic waste is a vital process that can support the waste management industry and the economy.
Recycling industry needs citizens to separate waste at home
South Africa has a booming recycling industry – our recycling rates are growing steadily every year and, in certain instances, we are recycling more than Europe. South Africa’s PET recycling currently sits around 67%, while paper recycling is at 59%. In terms of all plastics combined, South Africa has an input recycling rate of just over 46%. By separating recyclable waste in households, South Africans will help to improve all of these rates.
According to Plastics SA, the plastics industry representative, around 70% of all the plastic products that were recycled in 2018 had to be sourced from landfills across the country. This shows how much of our recyclable waste is still being disposed of in general waste bins and being sent to landfills. It’s a major reason why South Africans need to scrutinise their waste before disposing of it.
Separating waste does not have to be hard
Many South Africans believe that separating waste at home is a chore, rather than a benefit. The country’s recycling infrastructure is well-established and, in fact, recyclable waste can now be grouped together. It’s simply a case of having three bins at home; one for recyclable waste (paper, plastic, metals and glass), one for organic waste (fruit and vegetables) and one for non-recyclables (cooked food, dust, old sponges etc.).
This type of separation is called ‘multi-recycling’ and it simply means that all recyclables are separated from general waste in clear bin bags to distinguish them from non-recyclable materials. Before disposing of any waste, simply think about what kind of waste item it is and place it in the relevant bin. Just make sure that all recyclables and clean and dry before disposing of them, otherwise they could ruin the paper waste items and contaminate the whole batch.
Waste scrutiny helps the economy
Good separation practices at home helps to bolster the industry and the economy, leading to job creation and economic growth. It also helps to reduce the costs of waste management and further protect the environment. Recycling is the first step to establishing a successful circular economy, whereby waste is reused and recycled into new, sellable products.
The latest estimates from Plastics SA suggest that the plastics recycling industry alone contributes to around 60 000 employment and income-generating opportunities for South Africans. This is one sector of the recycling industry – there are still the metals, glass and paper sectors too. By supporting the recycling and waste management industry, South Africans are helping to boost employment and the economy.
Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment.
By pairing international expertise with local insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers of waste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in the recycling, pipe inspection, CCTV, infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries.
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