Want to go into the recycling business? This is one of the fastest growing green businesses areas and SA is emerging as one of the leaders in the field. There are many needs in the industry which resourceful entrepreneurs could fill, as every household and business’s waste needs to be recycled.
A very useful document for such a person would be the newly released 2010 Plastics Recycling Survey for SA. The Plastics Federation recently released this important document at a function at the newly opened Kraaifontein Integrated Waste Management Facility outside Cape Town.
Data was collected over a 12-month period with the aim to:
- Provide an understanding of the current state of recycling and reprocessing in South Africa
- Determine recycling rates relative to consumption
- Gather information on the use and destination of recycled plastics
- Provide reliable data to government and the broader community
- Provide baseline statistics for reducing, reusing and recycling initiatives
- Highlight challenges faced by the recyclers
- Demonstrate the complexity of plastics recycling
Growing demand for recycled plastic
‘There is a growing demand for recycled plastic as it is a product that has proven itself to be versatile, economic and reliable,’ said Annabe Pretorius a polymer scientist from Plastix 911/SAPRO.
The challenge for the future lies in educating the South African public about the importance of recycling their plastic waste and developing new markets and recycling methods.
‘The future for recycled plastics looks promising as South Africans are realizing that plastic waste has an inherent recycling value,’ said Plasfed Environmental Director, Douw Steyn.
The results of the survey highlighted that:
- 41 % of all plastic recycled in 2009 was low density Polyethylene (PE-LD), used in packaging film and stretch wrap, lids, cosmetic tubes and bags, as well as other uses such as irrigation pipes, and cable insulation
- 19 % of the recycled plastic was High Density Polyethylene (PE-HD), used in milk bottles, fruit juice bottles, drums, tubs, closures, crates and bags
- 16 % of recycled plastic was Polypropylene (PP), used in yoghurt tubs, margarine tubs, ice cream containers, bottle caps and crates, as well as more domestic uses such as coat hangers, battery cases, bumpers, buckets and carpeting
- 15 % of the recycled plastic was PET, used for the manufacture of carbonated soft drink bottles, mineral water bottles, clear bottles, as well as carpeting
- 5 % was Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC-P), used for cling film, pouches, cap liners etc.
40 000 jobs in plastics recycling and more to come
Recycling plastic waste is not only beneficial to the environment but the industry is also a source of employment. The plastics chain in South Africa employs over 40 000 people, and is defined as a priority sector by Government.
‘The tonnage of recycled plastics has increased about 32 % over the last 5 years and the numbers of permanent jobs created have increased by 47 % during the same period’, Steyn said.
The market for recycled plastics has grown considerably over the past five years. Recycled plastics are used to create a diverse range of products such as park benches, litter bins and photo frames.
Looking forward to growth
Looking ahead at the next five years (2010-2015), the plastics recycling industry in South Africa looks set for continued growth and expansion, provided that the following improvements are made now:
- Separation at source to ensure cleaner, less contaminated materials from the domestic waste stream
- Development of new markets to create a demand for recycled materials
- Development of quality systems for plastics recyclers to be able to grade recyclate for particular applications
- Ensure more effective mechanical methods of recycling of plastics
- Transport and processing costs will have to be balanced with the potential prices that recycled material can fetch
- Alternative recycling methods will need to be developed for certain materials that are currently not economically viable to recycle or are non-recyclable (e.g. multi-layer and multi-material packaging).
The Polystyrene Association of SA provides facilities to recycle all of you polystyrene waste, such as food packaging, protective and display packaging. Polystyrene is produced from naphtha, a product remaining after the transformation process of petroleum in refineries. A key benefit of polystyrene is that it can be recycled and the PSPC is initiating and setting up recycling programmes all over South Africa.
Polystyrene is generally not a high profile target in recycling terms but many companies, local authorities and individuals may not have considered the implications of just how much polystyrene they are dumping. The recycling of polystyrene is within everyone’s reach and can be done easily with the help of the PSPC.
Find out if there is a local drop off site for polystyrene or a kerbside pick-up service in your area and use it. You can also help to start a school, church or community collection programme.
The PSPC is also embarking on training session for schools to help learners understand the value of recycling this material.
Once you have identified your closest drop off site or recycling company, call them to verify drop-off or collection times. Make sure your polystyrene is clean and free of plastic film, loose parts or glued-on cardboard. Start collecting your polystyrene and happy recycling!