Retailers and recycling organisations are coming together to help curb the impact of waste products in our country.
A Retailers for Recycling Forum was created by the PET Plastic Recycling Company (trading as PETCO), together with Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay.
This forum will focus on minimizing the environmental impact of post-consumer packaging in our country, by using their buying power and awareness opportunities.
‘It is heartening to see retailers partnering with recycling organisations, because we believe that retailers have a prominent role to play in creating awareness amongst consumers of recycling issues. They can also work with suppliers to ensure that packaging is designed with reduction, re-use and recycling in mind,’ said Cheri Scholtz, CEO of PETCO (pictured below).
The Forum’s objectives are the following:
- Promote in-store consumer education and awareness and encourage consumers to recycle
- Liaise with suppliers to ensure product packaging is designed with recycling in mind
- Achieve sustainable growth in post consumer recycling
- Support existing and encouraging new collection and recycling networks
- Drive the use of rPET (recycled PET) and other recycled material to help stimulate demand
- Assist in the collection and sorting of post consumer packaging by motivating suppliers to ensure that packaging materials (especially plastics, and specifically PET) are clearly identified.
The success of the Forum is dependent on the buy-in of all the major retailers in South Africa, including Pick n Pay, Woolworths, Massmart, Clicks, Shoprite/Checkers, Seven 11, Spar and others. The Forum is working to ensure their participation.
Thus far, the Forum has been able to achieve the following:
- Conducted best practice research on global retailers involved in recycling
- Used their influence to encourage packaging suppliers to pay appropriate recycling levies
- Reviewed the New Waste Management Act that came into effect in South Africa on 01 July 2009 and especially how it affects retailers and their suppliers
- Arranged talks on topics associated with recycling to retailers and suppliers, for example the talk on wine packaged in PET bottles (Backsberg Tread Lightly) and the carbon savings associated with this initiative
- Discussed appropriate in-store awareness campaigns aimed at consumers
- Reviewed what role government and other stakeholders can play in the Forum
According to Bronwen Rohland, Pick n Pay’s Director of Marketing and Sustainable Development and vice chairperson of the PETCO Board, the Retailers for Recycling Forum is an opportunity for retailers to share insights and best practise with respect to recycling and consumer awareness.
‘We recognise that retailers play a significant role in motivating suppliers to reduce packaging wherever possible and also to use materials that can be adequately recycled,’ she said. ‘The other opportunity for retailers is consumer awareness and we plan to use this platform to educate and inform our customers about packaging and recycling.’
Justin Smith (above), Manager of Woolworths Good business journey says the establishment of this Forum is testimony to the fact that retailers are taking responsibility for the packaging they sell and are willing to co-operate with each other to this end.
‘Woolworths is delighted that we are working collectively to advance packaging reduction, re-use and recycling. We recognise that retailers are the interface between production and consumption and who better than us to lead awareness amongst consumers’, he said.
Collecting PET Plastic Bottles – Good Reasons Why
- Plastic bottles are valuable and create income opportunities on the collection side.
- If one person collects 200 bottles for 240 days of the year, it amounts to 1,600 kgs per year. This means that the 29 048 tons of post consumer PET collected in 2009 by PETCO and their recycling partners translates into the creation of an estimated 18 000 income opportunities for informal collectors. The collectors then sell to agents and suppliers to the recyclers of whom there are approximately 1 675. Permanent jobs in the PET recycling industry are estimated at 512, with capital investment to date of R230m.
- Increasing plastic bottle recycling leads to job creation in the waste management, product development, manufacturing and marketing sectors.
- Local authorities will be obliged to increase recovery, recycling and composting of household waste to reach mandatory Government targets.
- Recycling reduces landfill requirements, thus increasing the life of landfill sites and cutting disposal costs. Landfill costs are set to rapidly increase over coming years.
- Recycling demand for plastic bottles outstripped supply for many years and South African recyclers have the capacity for an increased number of bottles for reprocessing.
- Plastic bottle recycling provides a valuable public service. The public want to recycle plastics and there is high demand for this service.
- Plastics are the material of choice for many manufacturers and will form an increasing proportion of household waste in the future. Research conducted by the UK based recycling organization Recoup, has shown that if plastics were no longer used in packaging the weight of packaging materials would rise by 300%, the volume of rubbish would expand by 150% and the energy consumed by the packaging industry would increase by 100%.
- Beverage PET in South Africa represents 2.5% of the total volume of paper and packaging waste; 3.5% of packaging waste (without paper) and 14% of all plastic packaging.
- Plastic bottles are widely used, abundant and very visual. There is the potential to remove a significant amount of volume from the waste stream.
- Recycling 1 ton of plastic bottles saves 1.5 ton of carbon. Recycling plastic bottles decreases the need for raw materials and saves energy.