Thank you for recycling, South Africa!

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66% of South Africa's paper was recovered and recycled in 2015. Photo: istockphoto.com
66% of South Africa’s paper was recovered and recycled in 2015. Photo: istockphoto.com

In the run up to Clean Up and Recycle Week from 12-17 September (#cleanupsa), the Paper Recycling Association of South Africa (PRASA) is extending its thanks to South Africans following the release of the 2015 paper recycling statistics.

The progress made over the past decade is illustrated by the fact that no less than two thirds (66%) of the nation’s potentially recoverable paper and cardboard was recycled during the course of last year, totalling an impressive 1.2 million tonnes.

To put this into perspective, a similar volume of material would have occupied 3.6 million cubic metres of landfill space. Or perhaps imagine 1,435 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

But more can be done to improve our recycling and waste habits.

“There is little or no difference between the effort needed to simply discard paper into a rubbish bin versus putting it into a recycling bin, but the rewards for recycling are boundless,” says Ursula Henneberry, PRASA operations director.

“You reduce your waste footprint by ensuring that paper packaging and products are reprocessed into new items instead of ending up in landfill,” she adds.

“Recycling creates jobs – from the people who walk the streets collecting recyclables to bigger companies which employ individuals to collect and sort recyclables.” It is estimated that around 100,000 people earn a living from recycling across various waste streams.

Items which easily lend themselves to the paper recycling process include:

  • Magazines and brochures, including the glossy varieties
  • Milk, juice and food cartons (rinsed and flattened)
  • Newspapers
  • Office materials, including shredded papers and envelopes
  • Cardboard boxes of any kind. These can include dry food, e.g. cereal boxes, medicine and cosmetic boxes, toilet and kitchen paper roll cores and flattened packing cartons
  • Old telephone directories and discarded hardcover and paperback books
  • Paper gift-wrapping materials

Materials that should NOT be included in the paper recycling process:

  • Wet or dirty paper and cardboard
  • Sticky notes
  • Wax coated, foil lined and laminated products
  • Used paper plates, disposable nappies, tissues and toilet paper
  • Cement and dog food bags
  • Foil gift wrapping and carbon paper

How to start?

Visit www.recyclepaper.co.za as a starting point. Then get a box or container and keep your paper recycling separate from wet waste and other recyclables.

There are number of programmes available to support your paper recycling efforts, from free kerbside collections in many residential areas to large paper banks at schools and community organisations. Look out for recycling drop-offs at shopping centres. Businesses can also make a difference in various ways through various collection agents.

Other good resources: www.mywaste.co.za | www.cleanup-sa.co.za | www.thepaperstory.co.za

South Africa, let’s get better at recycling!