Plastic recycling in South Africa is on the rise, contributing to a recovering plastics industry, says Plastics SA executive director Anton Hanekom.
Last year, the plastics manufacturing and recycling sectors saw a 4,7% growth, marking a rebound from the impact of Covid-19.
Hanekom reported that 1 904 924 tons of polymer transformed into new plastic products in 2022. The country’s plastic recycling rate stands at 46%, surpassing global averages. Meanwhile, paper, beverage cans and glass are recycled at 70%, 72% and 42%, respectively.
The plastic recycling sector’s growth is evident, with 344 527 tons recycled in 2021, a 10% increase.
Hanekom emphasised the need to further support local recyclers and advance the industry.
Effective recycling requires design for recyclability, early waste collection, adherence to recycling standards, and verified environmental claims, Hanekom said.
Despite the benefits, society’s outlook on plastics is changing. The goal is to diminish plastic waste, leaving a cleaner environment for future generations.
The plastics industry aims for sustainability and positive impact by transitioning to a circular economy.
This model promotes longer plastic life spans, increased reuse and recycling.
Hugo Ngcobo of Songimvelo Group, which is a recycling company, said that residents have an awareness of recycling trends, particularly for plastics.
I must say our communities are very much aware of the demand for plastic recycling and are certainly not behind current trends.
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Kelvin Lloys-Ellis, Central Waste’s general manager, expressed concern over the insufficient recycling promotion and city cleanliness. He proposed a free recycling drop-off area before the landfill site, to reduce landfill-bound recyclables.
The landfill’s current setup charges vehicles entering via the weighbridge, discouraging recycling.
Lloys-Ellis suggested a pre-weighbridge disposal zone to prevent contamination and encourage recycling.