Highlighting the solutions to issues of marine and land-based pollution in South Africa this week were national industry body for PET plastic recycling, PETCO, and the African Marine Waste Network.
Extrupet, Africa’s leading PET and HDPE bottle recycling company, joined forces with PETCO, the industry body responsible for PET recycling in South Africa, and the Kenton-based African Marine Waste Network, to donate nine desks and 36 chairs to Lake Farm Centre. The furniture was manufactured by Extruwood, using the caps and labels of plastic bottles recycled at Extrupet.
Janine Basson, stakeholder relations manager for PETCO, highlighted the important role that partnership initiatives like this play in sustainable waste management.
“At PETCO, we believe that plastic bottles are not trash; when they are recycled, they are made into new bottles for water or beverages or recycled into new and useful products such as polyester fibre for duvets and pillows, or jeans and t-shirts,” said Basson.
“Similarly, the manufacture of these desks from recycled bottle tops and labels demonstrates that, when there is an end-use for recycled plastic, we can ensure it is kept out of our environment and within the circular economy.”
African Marine Waste Network director, Dr Tony Ribbink, said that he was heartened by the proactive approach being taken by key players in the plastics industry.
“PETCO and Extrupet are taking a leadership role in conservation and community support. They are helping to keep plastic out of the ocean, and putting it to good use on land instead,” he said.
Donation benefits literacy
The donation to Lake Farm went a long way to benefit the centre’s literacy programme, according to volunteer Marjorie Moore.
“The [literacy] classes instil a sense of pride and self-worth and promote independence and life skills while developing healthy attitudes,” she said. “Having proper desks and chairs creates more of a classroom environment and enables more people with disabilities to join our classes.”
A further benefit, said Moore, was that the donated furniture was comfortable, yet also virtually indestructible, meaning it typically would not need to be replaced.
Joint managing director of Extrupet, Chandru Wadhwani, said the company is thrilled to be able to support the initiative.
An environmental win
“Given the severe shortage of desks in South Africa and many other parts of the world, and with prevailing issues of deforestation, there was a pressing need for alternative resources to be tapped,” said Wadhwani. “These desks and chairs provide a real win-win solution, as they benefit both people and the environment. They divert waste that would otherwise have ended up in our landfills or oceans.”
Basson reiterated the importance that partnership initiatives played in sustainable waste management.
SA, Europe lead the pack – US trails
Last year PETCO announced that its member companies had recycled 22% more post-consumer bottles in 2016, pushing its yearly polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling rate from 52% in 2015 to 55% in 2016.
“Two-billion PET bottles were collected for recycling across South Africa during the course of 2016, creating some 62 000 income opportunities for small and micro-collectors, and changing their lives and those of their families in immeasurable ways,” said PETCO CEO Cheri Scholtz at the time.
The 2016 recycling rate of 55% in South Africa was comparable to international PET recycling rates, with the US rate of post-consumer PET recycling cited at around 30% and the European average rates at around 59% for the same period.