The Department of Environmental Affairs recently released shocking stats that more than 17 million tons of waste were disposed of across 120 landfills in 2017.
The Glass Recycling Company looked at seven key factors that impact recycling successes in South Africa.
Below are seven factors that will continue playing a successful role in recycling:
- Currently South Africa does not have punitive mandatory legislation in place which makes separation of recyclables at source, (where recyclable material which includes glass, paper, metal and certain plastics is separated from the waste stream) in homes, offices, restaurants and bars. Mandatory separation at source in SA will ensure greater recycling success in years to come.
- In many developing countries like ours, an informal ‘collector market’ has evolved. Recyclables are collected by individuals in order to generate a source of income. This includes individuals who both collectively or independently retrieve recyclables from home or business waste and sell these recyclables to buy back centres.
- These are community-based multi-recycling centres that buy recyclable waste such as paper, plastic, cans and glass from collectors and then sell it on to packaging manufacturers.
- Approximately 50 000 South Africans earn an informal source of income from collecting waste glass and selling this valuable packaging to entrepreneurial buy-back centres.
- South Africa has one of the most efficient returnable bottle systems in the world spearheaded by our beer, wine and spirit manufacturers.
- These returnable glass bottles are sent back to the beverage manufacturers to be sterilised, inspected and refilled, making each glass bottle achieve numerous trips.
- A carbon-friendly trend is closed-loop recycling. Glass, for example, fully meets the formal definition of a Closed Loop System, i.e. bottle-to bottle recycling – whereby material is recycled into the same product (i.e. a bottle becomes a new bottle or jar).
- Recycling glass has huge environmental benefits; it saves landfill space, saves raw materials, lessens demand for energy, and reduces CO2 emissions. As a result, the maximum environmental benefits are achieved in South Africa.
- Manufacturers are certainly assisting in diverting waste from landfill. Consol Glass and Nampak Glass have both invested significantly in the development of high-level cullet processing plants; these include the presence of advanced technology meaning that consumers do not need to sort glass into its three primary colours (brown, green or clear) as this is done at the processing plants by means of optical sorting.
- With the future of our country in the hands of our youth, it is vital to build enthusiasm amongst the youth regarding recycling and green behaviours. Many brands are trying to encourage this, however, there is certainly space to do more. Recycling brands often run campaigns and competitions to encourage recycling in schools.
- As South Africans are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and responsible, the demand for recycling points has increased. The Glass Recycling Company now has more than 4 000 glass banks located nationally which makes it easier for the public to recycle their glass.