‘Tis the season to declutter and recycle

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Ah, December – not only a time for gifts and festivities but also the perfect time to declutter our homes and offices. According to the Paper Recycling Association of South Africa (PRASA), white or office paper is among the least recycled products in South Africa. This is largely due to archiving and storage of important documents.

If it’s time to clear out those files, make sure that paper goes into a recycling bin! For confidential documents, it is best to tear these up – preferably down the middle of the page.

“Shredding often presents problems for recycling operations as it shortens the paper fibres and diminishes the quality of paper for recycling,” explains Ursula Henneberry, PRASA operations director.

It also increases volume of the paper, taking up more space in a collector’s vehicle or trolley, without adding value through weight. Very often plastic document covers are shredded along with the paper and this plastic is impossible to separate from the paper, which renders it all non-recyclable and destined to landfill.

 

Brown paper can make the best giftwrap and it's 100% recyclable (minus the bows and pine cones!) Beautifully simple!
Brown paper can make the best giftwrap and it’s 100% recyclable (minus the bows and pine cones!) Beautifully simple!

Don’t banish boxes to landfill

A tonne of recycled paper can save up to three cubic metres of landfill space. In 2015, an impressive 1.2 million tonnes of paper and board were responsibly discarded and recycled. This valuable material, which has since been converted into new paper products, would have occupied 3.6 million cubic metres of landfill space. That’s the same as 1,435 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

Recycling creates jobs - from the collectors on the streets to employees at larger recycling operations. Find out which companies collect paper in your area or support your neighbourhood recycling collector. (Credit: Sappi)
Recycling creates jobs – from the collectors on the streets to employees at larger recycling operations. Find out which companies collect paper in your area or support your neighbourhood recycling collector. (Credit: Sappi)

It’s a wrap

December 26 – or Boxing Day – was traditionally reserved for clearing out unused or unwanted items. These items were given out to the less fortunate in boxes.

But it is also a day when you will see cardboard boxes, paper packaging from new toys and wrapping paper piled high among the household refuse.

Give Mother Nature a gift this season and keep paper separate once pressies have been unwrapped. It is also best to remove plastic from paper packaging and keep the paper clean and dry. Find a paper recycling bank or depot, or keep it aside for a local recycling collector.

Resolve to recycle in 2017

  • Make a New Year’s resolution to recycle at home and at work!
  • Do not mix your paper with other recyclables.
  • Do not let your paper get wet or soiled by other rubbish. Keep it under cover or in a closed plastic container.
  • Get to know what is recyclable and what is not. The following paper types cannot be recycled:
    • Foil gift wrapping and foil lined boxes
    • Wax coated or laminated boxes such as frozen food boxes
    • Empty cement and dog food bags
    • Disposable nappies
    • Carbon paper
    • Sticky notes
Keep paper separate once pressies have been unwrapped. It is also best to remove plastic from paper packaging and keep the paper clean and dry. And keep aside all ribbons and decorative items - and re-use them for next year!
Keep paper separate once pressies have been unwrapped. It is also best to remove plastic from paper packaging and keep the paper clean and dry. And keep aside all ribbons and decorative items – and re-use them for next year!
A study conducted in Australia showed that only 28% of paper was recycled where recycling containers were centrally located, but when recycling containers were placed in close proximity (on desks etc) to participants, 85% to 94% of all recyclable paper was recycled. 
A study conducted in Australia showed that only 28% of paper was recycled where recycling containers were centrally located, but when recycling containers were placed in close proximity (on desks etc) to participants, 85% to 94% of all recyclable paper was recycled.