According to a Plastics SA Survey, mechanical recycling of plastics has increased by 5, 9% domestically from 2015 to 2016. Polyco Chief Executive Officer, Mandy Naudé, is pleased by this result but feels that more can be done over the festive season.
“It’s great that more South Africans are playing an active part in recycling. The more individuals who recycle and share their tips, the brighter the future.”
Here are some easy recycling tips for the year ahead:
Let’s get one thing clear:
The first step to recycling responsibly is understanding what is recyclable and where your recyclable items should go. Recycling is as simple as separating your waste into one of two bags: black refuse or clear refuse bags. Clear refuse bags are used in order to differentiate the recyclable waste from the organic waste or non-recyclable items.
‘Tis the season for consumption:
From a tub of ice cream to a bottle of soda or a cheeky snack; whatever your pleasure, remember that most of these packaging items can be recycled. A simple trick to assist recyclers is to wash used food packaging items out in your used dishwashing water (to get rid of excess food or liquid), ensuring a seamless journey from collection to waste conversion. Remember to be water-wise if you’re in the Western Cape!
Cracking the code to recycling:
Products made from plastic are safe, versatile and affordable, but did you know that there are seven different types of plastic? Better yet, did you know that most of these types are recyclable? Remember to look out for these recycling codes on the packaging.
- Code 1: PET (made of polyethylene terephthalate) is used in a range of food and household packaging items, but it’s your soda and water bottles that need to go into the clear refuse bag for recycling.
- Code 2: HDPE (made of high-density polyethylene) is used for strong and rigid packaging such as milk bottles, juice bottles and household cleaning bottles.
- Code 3: PVC (made of polyvinyl chloride) is predominantly used in the building and construction industries, as well as the healthcare environment (such as syringes). It is used in very small quantities in packaging items and therefore currently not recycled in SA, so do not throw it into your clear refuse bag.
- Code 4: LDPE (low-density polyethylene) is the most widely recycled plastic material in South Africa. LDPE can be found in plastic food wraps, plastic shopping bags, frozen food bags and bread bags.
- Code 5: PP (polypropylene) can be found in your favourite yogurt container, bottle caps and medicine bottles.
- Code 6: PS (polystyrene) is used in take-away containers, as well as in your fruit, meat and vegetable containers.
- Code 7: Other refers to any other – or multi-layered – material used. Some examples include soup packaging and chip bags. These are currently not recycled in SA and therefore should not be included in your clear refuse bag.
Recycle me not:
Whilst recycling can be simplified, it is also important to be aware of what cannot be recycled. Be sure to toss soggy and wet items (from food or liquid) into your black refuse bag so that they do not contaminate the recyclable material, which would then make it much more difficult to recycle. Watch this video to learn more about what cannot be recycled: https://youtu.be/hT7oxOgFJJk
Where to next?
Once your recyclables bag is full, simply leave it on the pavement outside of your home on the days that your municipality collects the waste. If your municipality does not collect recyclables, visit www.mywaste.co.za and find the nearest drop off point or recycling depot.
For more top tips on responsible recycling over the festive season, visit www.polyco.co.za
This past weekend saw the 21st year in which South Africa participated in the International Coastal Clean-Up (ICC) – an annual event that has become the biggest, global volunteer effort for ocean health.
Despite inclement weather experienced in Cape Town on the day, 2017 would be remembered for having one of the best turn-outs of volunteers who freely offered up their time to participate in picking up litter from our beaches.
Plastic Pollution will be in the spotlight on July 25th and 26th in Port Elizabeth. During these two days the Sustainable Seas Trust, Plastics SA and other partners will launch the African Marine Waste Network.
The need for the network was recognized some years back by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and a number of government departments, universities, research institutions, NGOs and concerned citizens, but a decision to launch the network was only made in 2015 with a view to building on the back of the South African Hope Spot Network, launched by Sustainable Seas Trust and Dr Sylvia Earle of Mission Blue.
Dr Earle is also one of the Patrons of SST. Appropriately the Network will be launched in Port Elizabeth as Algoa Bay is one of South Africa’s six Hope Spots. Although the launch will take place in South Africa, the African Marine Waste Network will be the first to address marine waste at a Pan-African level. The SST has emphasised the enormous contribution of Plastics South Africa to this initiative.
Two days have been dedicated to the launch in order to set aside time for national and international experts to participate in a planning workshop, for public lectures and the first meeting of the Network’s Advisory Panel as well as to provide an opportunity for celebrations to mark the official launch.
Pollution of all kinds, a major global problem; it causes 40% of premature human deaths globally, costs US$ 13.8 trillion annually and is influencing climate on the planet. An exceedingly important part of the pollution problem, marine waste, is the focus of the Network. Debris and solid waste enter the sea in ever increasing amounts every moment of every day. About 270kgs of plastic enters our seas every second; that is a little over 15 tons every minute; 900 tons every hour.
Plastic washed into rivers and estuaries and then carried to the sea, beaches and rocky-shores is the major contributor to this form of pollution. The remainder comes from ships and boats. By 2045 the flow of plastic into the sea will be 600kgs per second; 36 tons per minute or 2160 tons and hour, if present trends continue. This situation poses a serious threat to humans, to animals and plants and to ecosystems.
Estimates suggest that there are 150million tons of plastic in the sea at the moment. If present trends continue, there will be more than 700 million tons in the ocean by 2050, outstripping the total weight of fish in the sea.
The exact amount of debris entering the sea from South Africa or any other African country is not known. What is known, however, is that the rapid development of Africa, coupled with poverty, has seen waste accumulation outpace management. International organizations now fear that Africa may soon become as badly polluted as South East Asia, which has the foulest record on the planet. The Network urgently needs to find out how serious the African problems are, where they are and how to address them.
In his message to the 5th International Marine Debris Conference, Achim Steiner, in his capacity as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, emphasised that the threat of marine pollution can only be tackled effectively by means of a trans-national initiative actively supported by the private sector.
The African Marine Waste Network is an African cross-boundary initiative supported by the private sector which aims to make a contribution to solving a global crisis.
The organisers of the launch expressed the hope that all South Africans will join this initiative to help Africa to play its role in ensuring that the children of our planet have a better tomorrow.
Plastics SA, sustainability director, Douw Steyn
The award honoured Plastics SA for the commitment it has shown over the past 18 years to rid the environment of plastic litter.
“Forming partnerships is an indispensable component of Emzemvelo KZN Wildlife’s responsibility to protect the biodiversity in our province. Since 1996, Plastics SA has partnered with us in helping deal with the problem of marine litter,” said Dr Bandile Mkhize, CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
“We are particularly grateful for their support, which now amounts to some 18 years of sustained assistance. Their generous contribution has included providing more than 400,000 clean-up bags for KZN beach clean-ups, a monetary contribution of R1,2m, financial support for turtle research and sponsoring a boat for clean-ups in the Durban Mangroves,” he added.
Receiving the award on behalf of Plastics SA, Sustainability director Douw Steyn emphasised that sustainability is one of the six core functions of Plastics SA, the mouthpiece of the entire plastics industry.
“The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges, such as climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery,” Steyn said.
“Looking after the environment is a key driving force for us, and influences almost every decision we take. We have been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa, and take this task very seriously. We are relentless in our efforts as we educate people that ‘Plastics don’t litter. People do’. Plastic litter doesn’t belong in the environment, nor in landfills. Instead, plastic should be recycled to create new useful products without adding strain on our natural resources,” he explained.
Steyn concluded that they are very proud of receiving the award and appreciated the recognition Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has shown to the association. “We look forward to building an even stronger partnership in the years to come as we are united in our mutual passion to protect the biodiversity in the province and therefore support each other in every way we can.”