It was estimated by the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2012 that 65% of the waste that we produce in South Africa is recyclable, which is good news. However, out of the 90% of waste that’s landfilled, only 10% is actually diverted and recycled. Then in 2017, the Department of Environmental Affairs’ South African Waste Information Centre came back to us and reported that over 19.2 million tonnes of general waste and one million tonnes of hazardous waste went to the country’s 825 landfill sites. Shockingly, the landfill sites in Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Cape Town are reporting less than 10 years of useful life left in them, and with little or no opportunities for building new ones, it’s safe to say that we’re running out of space.
The pressure is on for recycling in Africa, and recycling in South Africa in particular to become a priority. As companies and communities, we have to find innovative ways of sustainably diverting waste from landfill. And as individuals, we need to let go of the old idea that our few plastic bags don’t contribute to existing landfill mountains. When there are 7 billion of us out there, what we do on our own does matter collectively. Every piece of waste makes a difference. Every piece of waste could be diverted from landfill and recovered for reprocessing or repurposing. We must make positive changes in our own waste management habits – because big changes start with small actions right at home.
If this rings true for you, then perhaps the first place to start is by asking yourself the question, ‘What can we recycle?’ And thankfully, we have the answer for you, as well as a recyclable materials list, so please get in touch and our experts will help answer all of your questions.