SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa has made progress in reducing plastic waste by spear-heading collection and recycling initiatives which have in turn cut carbon-dioxide emissions into the environment.
According to the annual South African Plastics Recycling Survey outlining the state of the country’s plastics recycling industry for 2019, 503, 600 tonnes of plastic waste were collected for recycling across the country, of which more than half i.e., 362 800 tonnes consisted of packaging.
The largest quantity, 70.4% of recyclables came from landfill and other post-consumer sources.
Of the total collected waste, 352 500 tonnes of plastics were converted back into raw materials in order to manufacture other products in 2019.
The plastics recycling saved an estimated 244 300 tonnes of CO2 in 2019, the equivalent emissions of 51 000 cars in the same year.
“While there is no single solution to end the war against plastic waste and pollution, recycling is one of the most important actions available to reduce petrochemical usage, CO2 emissions and the quantity of waste to be disposed of,” said Johann Conradie, Chairman of South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO).
The operations were undertaken by 288 recyclers with 52% based in Gauteng, recycling 60% of the tonnages during the year as most of the end-markets are situated in the province.
However, the number of larger recyclers (according to tonnes per recycler) were higher in the Western Cape than in other provinces accounting for 11% of the total number of recyclers, recycling 14% of the total tonnages.
“While there is no single solution to end the war against plastic waste and pollution, recycling is one of the most important actions available to reduce petrochemical usage, CO2 emissions and the quantity of waste to be disposed of.”Johann Conradie – Chairman of South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO)
To facilitate the process, R 2.065 billion (US$141.2m) was injected into the informal sector through the purchasing of recyclable plastics waste in the period under-review, creating 58, 750 jobs which included waste pickers and employees of the smaller entrepreneurial collectors.
“No single organisation can solve the plastic pollution challenge by itself. An inclusive, collaborative process with multiple stakeholders across the plastics value chain is needed,” said Anton Hanekom, Executive Director of Plastics SA.
One of the SA packaging recycling pioneers Tuffy has subsequently established itself at the forefront of the global sustainability agenda.
In 2020, Tuffy joined forces with the World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF South Africa) to create greater awareness around the waste-to-landfill impact on the environment through on-product messaging, in-store communication, and other relevant activities.
When consumers purchase the brand’s refuse bag packs, Tuffy has been donating a portion of the sales in support of the vital conservation work done by WWF South Africa.
This pledge is also underpinned by its role as a founding member of the SA Plastics Pact, a national initiative developed by WWF South Africa in 2019 whereby various key stakeholders have set a series of ambitious 2025 targets aiming to address plastic waste and pollution.
“Ecological awareness is now more important than ever, and this partnership has given us the opportunity to amplify the need for increased knowledge around sustainability issues and help drive more environmentally sensitive business practices,” commented Rory Murray, Tuffy Marketing Head.
Although these statistics represent progress, the report notes that South Africa produced almost 1.8 million tonnes of plastic products in the same period.
The survey also noted that recycling rates will increase as brand owners and their manufacturers commit to higher levels of recycled content in their products.
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