The South African Plastic Recycling Organisation (SAPRO) has released the results of its first annual SA Plastics Recycling survey in collaboration with the South African Plastics Federation, which reveals an 32% increase in the tonnages of plastics recycled over the four years to end of 2009, and highlights the positive impact of plastic recycling on the economy and job creation.
The survey reveals that 28,9% of all plastics packaging was recycled during the measured period, translating into 165 772 tons of packagings. 48,8% of all recyclable materials was obtained from post-consumer sources, including landfills. Recycling a ton of waste has twice the economic impact of burying it in the ground. In addition, recycling one additional ton of waste will pay R1095 per ton more in salaries, produce R4905 more in goods and services, and generate R1.3-million more in sales than disposing of it in a landfill.
According to the study, there are 200 to 220 plastics recycling manufacturers in South Africa who employ 4,800 people (directly) creating 35,000 jobs (indirectly) who have an annual payroll of R250-million.
Annabe Pretorius, General Manager for SAPRO, says that one of the most significant impacts of plastics recycling on the economy is job creation as well as reduction of carbon footprint and the re-use of non-renewable resources. “Without this industry there would be more than 35,000 employees who would not have work and the industry is growing steadily with more and more manufacturers being created, which is creating more jobs.”
In addition, there are many jobs that are indirectly supported by recycling as collection would entail waste picking, sorting and compacting/baling jobs. “The bulk of these people would be self-employed in the waste picking/harvesting aspect of recycling,” she adds. “About one third of them are employed by collectors and would be involved in recyclers, sorting, baling, collection and transport of recyclable materials.”
With regard to the cost implication on the economy, Pretorius explains that if people don’t recycle, the first significant cost implication would be that 34 500 families would be without jobs and without an income. Secondly, there would be at least 400 less companies (recyclers and collectors and transport companies) doing business in South Africa. Thirdly, certain products would be at least 20% more expensive, e.g. carrier bags, refuse bags, furniture shrouds, irrigation piping, etc. In addition, municipalities would run out of landfill space sooner and would have to develop more landfill space.
The survey states that the number of environmentally conscious public is increasing and they are keen to get involved in some sort of recycling product. Rory Murray, marketing director at Tuffy Brands, pioneers of refuse bags made from 100% recycled materials, says that consumers that think about the products they choose can promote recycling and make a big difference to the environment.
“It’s what goes into the products when they are recycled that matters,” he says. “Many products claim to be 100% recycled however what most consumers don’t know is that some of these products are only recycled using pre-consumer waste which is not taken out of the environment, so essentially does not make much of a difference to the state of the environment.”
He advises that in order to support recycling efforts, consumers need to look for products that are made from high percentages of ‘post-consumer’ waste meaning a material that was discarded after someone uses it, in other words it has served its intended purpose, passed through the hands of a final consumer and has been discarded for disposal or recovery. “We take physically out of the environment and reuse it, so essentially cutting down on rubbish ending up in a landfill site and essentially better for the environment.”
He adds that to ensure you are buying a product made from recycled materials, consumers can check the labels and look for labels that indicate the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content and that the label does not state ‘recycle me’ as this does not mean that it was initially made from recycled material.
Pretorius says that as well as consumers, recyclers and the industry as a whole have a huge role to play in helping the recycling statistics to increase. The survey states that the best measure of success for a recycling industry is the extent to which it can recover the highest percentage of used materials at the lowest cost and that this can only be achieved by taking into account some important considerations including:
Plastics recyclers need to take the initiative to engage with the serious role-players to create awareness for mechanical recycling the advantages of it for the Carbon Footprints and Extended Producer Responsibilities (EPR); plastics recyclers need to become more professional in their approach to government at all levels to ensure that Government takes them seriously and considers their input as essential to their long term plans for the industry; and the recycling industry needs to engage at senior decision making level with plastic industry forums to ensure that the expertise and equipment in industry are utilised to the benefit of all.
Source: Supermarket Online
Author: Supermarket Online
Date: 4th July 2011