Spring is in the air and South Africans are starting to emerge from their homes after a long and cold winter. As warmer days beckon people to enjoy the sunshine, Plastics SA (formerly known as the Plastics Federation of South Africa) is encouraging the public to start their annual spring-cleaning by looking at the environment first.
‘We are calling on South Africans of all ages and backgrounds to do their share to keep our country beautiful during the entire month of September,’ says Douw Steyn, Environmental Director of Plastics SA.
Local communities, schools and groups throughout South Africa are encouraged to plan and host their own clean-up and recycling activities during Clean-Up South Africa Week, which will take place from 12 – 17 September 2011.
Clean Up South Africa Week (12 – 17 Sept)
According to Steyn, the aim of Clean-Up South Africa Week is to raise awareness so that everybody can make a difference by keeping South Africa clean and litter free. ‘The Clean-Up South Africa Week aims to focus on the importance of individual efforts. Regardless of your age, background or income, each South African has a responsibility to help rid our country of litter and recycle waste, whether they are at school, in an office block or even an old aged home. Every paper you pick up and every plastic wrapper you throw into the recycling bin makes a huge difference in the collective end,’ Steyn says.
Recycling Day (16 Sept)
Plastics SA is advocating the use, reuse and recycling of plastic with its message, Plastics: too valuable to waste. According to its latest research, there is a growing demand for recycled plastic as it is a product that has proven to be versatile, economic and reliable.
‘A total amount of 228 057 tons of plastic was recycled by 193 recyclers operating throughout the country during 2009-2010. More than 1.25 million tons of plastic were converted during this time, providing employment to nearly 40 000 people who are involved in the collection and recycling of this valuable resource,’ Steyn says.
‘Our latest recycling results clearly show that the public is realizing that plastic waste has an inherent recycling value. The challenge for the future lies in educating South Africans about the importance of the recycling of their plastic waste and developing new markets and recycling methods. We are hoping to use Recycling Day to raise this awareness by educating the community about the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling,’ Steyn says.
International Coastal Clean-Up Day (17 Sept)
‘Plastics don’t litter; people do. Plastics contribute significantly to enhancing the quality of our lives, to preserving our resources, reducing CO2 emissions and to enabling innovation. However, it should be used responsibly and disposed of either via recycling or energy recovery. Plastics should not be in the oceans, and marine litter is not acceptable,’ Steyn says.
Recognizing that marine litteris a global problem that requires global solutions, Plastics SA recently signed the Global Declaration for Solutions on Marine Litter on behalf of South Africa at a conference held in Honolulu. Plastics SA committed to working with fellow plastics organization leaders across the globe to find solutions to marine and coastal litter.
This year organisers expect even more than last year’s 20000 volunteers to come forth to our precious beaches and help us pick up anything and everything that wasn’t left there by nature. Massive cleanups will be untertaken at the following beaches, with the support of City of Cape Town municipality, wholesalers, sponsors and the public:
- Hout Bay
- Sunrise Beach, Muizenberg
- Zandlvlei (near Melkbosstrand)
‘No matter where we live, we’re all connected to the ocean. Even litter that falls from our hands hundreds of kilometers away, may eventually find its way to the ocean,’ Steyn says.
Special coordinators will be responsible for collecting data sheets and directing volunteer teams that participate in the International Coastal Clean-Up activities at the country’s main beaches, but numerous clean-up drives are also being planned for inland waterways, streams, and dams all over South Africa where people can clear away litter throughout the month of September.
Turning the tide on litter is one of the easiest ways to help protect our country. Together, we can solve the problem of litter lining our streets and waterways and prevent its most serious impacts. When you volunteer your time and energy during September as part of Clean-Up South Africa Week, Recycling Day or the International Coastal Clean-Up Day, you will be joining a movement of individuals who are turning the tide on litter in our beautiful country.