Sincere condolences go out to the affected families and communities that have fallen victim to the devastating human tragedy caused by this week’s heavy rains and flooding in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
A huge amount of plastic pollution has also ended up in KZN’s rivers and beaches. This event, more than any in recent times, reinforces the need for all of us – the industry, the government and consumers – to defeat the scourge of plastic pollution in our country.
Plastics SA have activated their network of players across the value chain, are assisting with clean-up operations, and are securing emergency funding. They have also sourced practical goods like bags, bulkbags, gloves and rakes.
The public is invited to join for further clean-ups:
The root of the problem of plastic pollution is non-existent solid waste management systems for the proper disposal of waste, and a lack of recycling infrastructure. The Department of Environmental Affairs recently showed that SA generated 108 million tonnes of general waste per year; only 10% of this was recycled. In 2017 the plastic industry collected more than 43% of packaging placed on the market for recycling with less than 700 000 tons going to landfill. The industry is showing year on year increases in the recycling rate with less plastic waste going to landfills, but industry’s efforts alone are not going to win the war on plastic pollution.
Plastic – if disposed of correctly – is more environmentally friendly than alternatives as it has a much lighter carbon footprint. The correct disposal and management of plastic waste is therefore imperative for our future environmental sustainability.
To prevent a catastrophe like this from happening in future, government needs to urgently fix South Africa’s inadequate waste management facilities and improve infrastructure for collection and recycling. One of the ways it can do this is by ring-fencing funds raised from the plastic bag levy to be used on the upgrading and maintaining of our recycling infrastructure. In doing so, government can create thousands of new jobs while safeguarding the 100 000 formal and informal jobs that the plastics industry currently provides.
To win the war on plastic pollution, every role-player in the plastics industry needs to confront some hard truths. This includes us as the producers of plastics, but it also includes government and consumers.
We need to build strong, collaborative and meaningful partnerships. Government, industry and the consumer need to work together to defeat plastic pollution.
Corporates stepping up to the plate
Our sincere thanks goes to organisations such a SAFRIPOL who will be supporting the clean-ups with 10 000 clean-up bags and 1000 bulk bags and Alpha Plast (Pty) Ltd who donated R10 000 this morning in support of the clean-ups!
“Our contribution is small in relation to the total cost of the clean-up and putting those who have been affected by the flood back on their feet. We are challenging all companies involved in the plastics industry to equal or better our contribution in order to raise much-needed funds that will go towards cleaning up and helping the areas affected by the floods…” – Steve van Rensburg, Alpha Plast (Pty) Ltd