As we the public become more aware of the impact of waste on the environment, the management of waste, recycle depots, landfills etc are in the spotlight.

Waste management starts at home by recycling paper and plastic containers. Remember the 5 “R’s” Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, Repair and Repurpose. Below is a fun zero waste score card to measure your waste management.

By recycling we reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfills and we create a circular economy.

For every ton of paper recycled 17 trees are saved. In an ideal situation if all household paper/cardboard was recycled 750 000 cubic metres of landfill space would be saved with a R60 million per annum saving in collection and landfill costs. The saving in energy from paper recycling per year can provide 512 homes with electricity (Reference: Paper Recycling Association of SA). It is important to make sure that the paper set aside for recycling is kept clean and dry. Not all paper is recyclable for example laminated paper and dog food bags are not.

With plastic there are seven plastic recycling symbols that indicate whether the product is recyclable. Should a plastic item not have a symbol, it is recommended by the Plastic Federation of SA to keep it separate from other recyclable items. Below is a guideline on the different types of plastic that are recyclable. In 2007 a total of 562 million PET bottles were recovered for recycling which resulted in 19 000 tons of plastic being removed from the landfills, sadly this was only 24% of the PET bottles manufactured in 2007.

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The next step to the home zero waste exercise is the delivery or collection of the recyclable items. In South Africa we have three main options, kerbside/office collection service, take items to a municipal drop off point or informal recyclers collect items to take to drop off depots.

Government and municipalities are also implementing new measures to encourage recycling. In July this year the City of Johannesburg implemented mandatory separation at the source by distributing clear plastic bags marked recyclable to households on a weekly basis.

Due to the initiatives implemented by the City of Cape Town the amount of waste diverted away from landfills increased to 21,3% in 2016/2017. In the current financial year the city council has allocated R118.7 million for programmes etc to minimize waste going to landfills. The expansion of drop off sites in the Cape Town area has also reduced illegal dumping of waste.

Factories, companies and businesses are also aware of the environmental impact of waste and have also contributed by implementing new policies/processes to reduce waste. HP in partnership with Thread in Haiti is changing plastic bottles into material that can be used to make shoes and clothing. Humanscale recycles old fishing nets into office chairs. Local supermarkets are supplying customers with stronger shopping bags made from 100% recycled plastic that are re-usable plastic bags. This is an effort to illuminate single-use plastic bags, as according to Shoprite 2 million bags are thrown away per minute worldwide.

On a broader scale comparing the recycling rate of South Africa to the international situation the following, according to Plastics SA for the 7th year running, plastic recycling in South Africa continues to increase with more than 334 727 tons recycled back into raw material in 2017. This resulted in South Africa receiving an input recycling rate of 43.7% compared to Europe’s rate of 31.1%.

Anton Hanekom (Plastic SA Executive Director) explains that the South African recycling industry is economically driven whereas in Europe the emphasis is on the environmental issues. In South Africa the sorting and recycling of waste is largely depend on manual labour. In 2017 the plastic recycling industry provided an income for 58 100 workers which includes formal and informal employment. Challenges facing the industry are better control for separation at source and access to good quality and relatively clean items.

With the correct and proper management of waste, daily items that are recyclable can become useful and valuable resources rather than ending up in a landfill. By being aware of the 5 “Rs” should become a way of life. Remember: Recycle Reduce Reuse Repair Repurpose.

Multi-cup Solutions, as a well-established food and beverage packaging supplier in the South African market, made the responsible decision to add a new range of environmentally friendly products to their extensive product list. As an alternative to the mainstream packaging Multi-cup Solutions offers a selection of PLA clear cups with lids, paper cups with PLA sip lids and bagasse meal boxes. Multi-cup Solutions noted the high demand for paper straws in the market place and has added white and black wrapped paper straws in different sizes to the stock range. Coloured or printed straws are available on request.

For more information on our full range of recyclable and enviro friendly food and beverage packaging contact us on 011 058 4200.