Clean-Up and Recycle SA Week was once again a huge success.
The annual event, which took place from the 11 – 16 September, brought together communities, organisations, and individuals from across the nation to tackle plastic pollution and promote responsible recycling.
Spring cleaning our environment
“This year’s event has been an incredible success and it was once again encouraging to see how South Africans from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds unite to clean up our environment.
Despite the fact that cold and stormy weather and an unusual spring tide plagued most of the country’s coastline on International Coastal Clean-up Day, there was still a good turn-out on beaches around the country by volunteers eager to do their bit to help remove litter from our beaches,” said Plastics SA Sustainability Director Douw Steyn.
Throughout the month of September, but especially during this week-long initiative, Plastics SA supported numerous clean-up efforts to clean up South Africa’s beaches, rivers, streets, and public spaces by donating more than 700 000 bright yellow refuse bags, as well clean-up toolkits consisting of gloves, rakes, spades, t-shirts and gumboots to clean-up teams. Moreover, Plastics SA also collaborated with recycling and waste management partners to collect the waste after these clean-ups to ensure that it is diverted from landfill and sent for recycling.
“The highlights of the week were undoubtedly again National River Clean-Up Day which took place on Wednesday, 13 September 2023, as well as our continued involvement in the Inkwazi Isu River Catchment Project aimed at improved waste management and recycling in Durban. In partnership with the the Alliance To End Plastics Waste, friends and partners from Durban Solid Waste, Polyco, Coca-Cola and Miss Earth, we visited various recycling buy back centres in the region which are supported by Inkwazi Isu. We also saw more than 300 volunteers participating in the cleaning up Dakota Beach today at Umbogintwini to celebrate International Coastal Clean-up and World Clean-up Day,” Steyn reports.
Forging partnerships to end plastic waste
Plastics SA also participated in a stakeholder workshop hosted in Johannesburg by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste’s (AEPW) Africa Regional Task Group on the 12th of September 2023. The Alliance is a cross-value chain, non-profit organisation with the mission to end plastic waste in the environment and drive forward a circular economy for plastic.
“At present, the AEPW has 75 member companies, focusing on developing, de-risking and deploying solutions to address the plastic waste challenge. So far, the Alliance has raised US$1.3 billion which is used to fund around 50 projects across the globe. A growing portfolio of these projects is taking place across Africa, with flagship programmes being launched in South Africa. These include an exciting group of collection, sorting and recycling initiatives that will be rolled out across the country in due course. The goal is for these projects to achieve economic self-sufficiency in their communities and create a circular economy for plastic,” Steyn reports.
Ongoing education and raising awareness
In addition to clean-up activities, Clean-Up & Recycling SA Week 2023 also featured various educational programmes aimed at raising awareness about the importance of proper waste management, recycling, and the role every citizen can play in ensuring that plastics do not end up in the environment or our oceans.
“80 % of the litter we remove from our beaches, rivers and waterways originate from inland. It is therefore vital for us to continue our education and communication efforts aimed at reaching the wider population. We all have a role to play when it comes to protecting our marine environment and its delicate ecosystems, and creating a cleaner, greener South Africa for future generations.
However, success can only be achieved through focused, collective actions. For this reason, Plastics SA and our industry partners remain dedicated to promoting sustainable practices within the plastics industry. We continue to work closely with stakeholders to develop innovative solutions for plastic recycling, waste reduction, and the responsible use of plastics,” Douw concludes.