Sustainability Week is around the corner, bounding in on the fresh winds of spring, and with it National Recycling Day. A day to celebrate what we’ve achieved and acknowledge what still needs to be done. Turns out, South Africa is doing remarkably well with its sustainability and recycling goals, particularly when compared to global rates. A quick look at all the paper packaging produced and recycled shows that we’re sitting at an enviable recovery rate of 71.7%.
Simply, that means that we’re recycling the majority of paper produced, instead of sending it into our rapidly diminishing landfills. As encouraging as this figure is, there’s still more that we must do. Especially in light of the recent pressures that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on the economy and environment.
Frustratingly, when we entered 2020, sustainability as a movement and the circular economy were poised for expansion in South Africa. Now with the pandemic pushing both humans and economies to the brink of existence, it seems that these goals have momentarily taken a back seat. This is especially true if you consider some of the measures that have been implemented to fight the virus, such as the alcohol ban. Although recently lifted, the ban caused a devastating knock-on effect, resulting in individuals losing jobs, businesses losing revenue (with many closing their doors), and the entire glass recycling industry on the verge of collapse.
As the leading supplier of glass, or what we call “cullet,” to Consol in South Africa, Remade Recycling has been unable to sell the collected glass to Consol. This has had a direct impact on those small businesses that we support, as well as on the total recyclability of glass for the year.
Says Bryce Blum, Director at Remade Recycling, “The environment has taken a severe beating from un-recycled glass material littered across our landscape; and there will be long-term environmental effects long after the pandemic is over that we must be prepared to resolve if we are to help heal the planet for future generations.”
What can we do?
It’s unlikely that COVID-19 is the only calamity we will deal with in the future and it will take a united, conscious effort to stick to our recycling efforts in the face of adversity. Even on a good day, it can be difficult to turn our well-meaning intentions to save the planet into action. Difficult but not impossible, and, given that recycling is a powerful way to help the planet heal, let us use Sustainability Week to do what we can to prevent pollution, save energy, and conserve natural resources. How, you might ask? Through our recycling efforts, which we can start implementing in our homes.
Bring sustainability home
Chances are that most of the recyclables from your home will end up at one of the Remade Recycling or Mpact Recycling branches around the country, and from there enter the recycling stream. Take for example, cartons or liquid packaging. You might recognise this as the packaging in your fridge and cupboards for your long-life milk, boxed juice and boxed wine products. This packaging is manufactured by multinational food packaging giant, Tetra Pak amongst others and, is recyclable in South Africa. Due to an investment by the Mpact Group in a state-of-the-art liquid recycling plant, we can recycle around 25,000 tonnes of liquid packaging products and prevent it from going into landfill.
Moreover, by choosing to recycle your liquid packaging you are supporting the circular economy, because the resulting pulp is used to create more paper reels which ultimately becomes packaging for the food and pharmaceutical industries.
Says Blum, “Every decision we make fuels our planet’s recovery, so by being more conscious about the choices you make in your home, like choosing to recycle your household waste, using eco light bulbs and non-toxic building materials in your home maintenance, installing low-flow sanitary fittings, planting native and local plant life in our gardens, and even composting your old newspapers and food scraps, you are making our world a safer, happier place to live for years to come.”
8 Tips to responsibly recycle in 2020:
- Put your liquid packaging products together with the rest of your recycling products into the green Remade recycling bag for Remade to collect from your home every week.
- Rinse and drain your liquid packaging and tin cans or jars for hygiene purposes.
- For safety reasons, try not to break your glass bottles when you put them into your recycling bag.
- Make it a family goal by introducing the language and habits of recycling from a young age and regularly pointing out what you’re doing whenever you recycle.
- Recycle your white paper products, like your office paper or kids’ used paper, which are converted into tissue and toilet paper products.
- Opt for reusable masks instead of disposables, which are posing a great threat to the environment and risk spreading the virus to those handling your waste.
- Take reusable bags and shop at bulk stores or shops that offer refill models.
- Start a compost heap by separating your organic waste, like your leftovers and vegetable peels, from your recyclables and general waste.
We believe that securing a sustainable future for all South Africans starts at home and that it’s all hands on deck to survive 2020 while still keeping our focus on these critical issues. We hope these tips have provided you with some useful ideas to kickstart your own recycling goals, because with each household that joins the fight, we can make a real difference and restore our planet for future generations to enjoy.
Did you know?
Remade Recycling has a proven track record of providing a variety of customisable waste management solutions, including estate recycling, onsite waste management, office recycling, event waste management, hazardous waste management, mixed recycling, confidential shredding, site or office clear-outs, collections only, and more.