Consumers can help to improve recycling rates

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South Africa’s recycling rates are high - especially for plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. Many local companies are working on reducing the impact of their products on the environment, but they need the help of consumers too. Ordinary citizens can help to improve the recycling rates further.Although the PET recycling rate in South Africa is high (about 65%), most of these plastic bottles are actually collected from landfills and sent to recycling facilities. Ideally, plastic bottles should be directly destined for a recycling plant once disposed of in a recycle bin.

Separation at source will improve recycling rates

Consumers should aim to discard their recyclable waste in the correct bins, rather than putting them in a general waste bin. In addition, plastics should be rinsed of any food remnants before being thrown away. Food particles can contaminate a batch of recycling.Separation at source will prevent recyclables from picking up food contamination from general bins. “Basic actions like rinsing or, in water-scarce areas, wiping out a food tin before placing it in a bag reduces contamination,” says Nicholas Schild, general manager of Mpact - a local plastic and paper recycling company.Lower contamination rates increase the viability of plastic recycling and improve the quality of recycled materials. With better-recycled plastic entering the market once again, products become more durable and cost-effective.Waste management providers collect and sort waste from households. Most large-scale waste management providers, like Averda, will sort recyclables and organic waste from other materials and send them to the right processing facilities. Some informal waste management providers don’t do this.

Retailers can also improve recycling rates

Therefore, it is important for consumers to separate their waste at home. Retailers can also implement waste collection campaigns to recover their packaging products and plastic waste early in the supply chain.These kinds of initiatives can save on transport costs for waste management providers and can save the retailers money. If customers bring their plastic waste back to the stores and recycle it there, the retailers can ensure that their products are correctly disposed of.The recyclables can then be processed into other goods and sold back to the store at a reduced rate. Many South African retailers, such as Woolworth and Pick n Pay, are making use of recycled plastic materials and products in their stores.“Consumer choice can add to the momentum of recycling and environment-conscious manufacturing practices,” says Schild. “Consumer education and encouraging conscientious behaviour might help to increase recovery rates over time,” he adds.___Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment. ___By pairing international expertise with local insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers of waste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in the recycling, pipe inspection, CCTV, infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries. ___Follow us Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the best tips on recycling and the latest industry news. See our Instagram and YouTube channels for more insights into environmental affairs and our work with local communities.