Record number of plastic bottles recycled last year
THE South African plastic industry recycled a record 2.15 billion polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles last year, putting the country on a par with international standards of recycling plastic bottles.
Cheri Scholtz, the chief executive of SA PET Recycling Company (Petco), said the organisation was thrilled with the latest figures.
Scholtz said the recycling figures set a post-consumer recycling rate of 65%.
She said the 93235 tons of collected PET exceeded the industry target of 58% for last year, creating 64000 income-generating opportunities for waste pickers, collectors and recyclers, and saved 578000m of landfill space and 139 000 tons of carbon in the process.
“Through the remarkable network of people, companies and organisations we work with, 5.9million PET bottles were collected for recycling across South Africa every day during the course of 2017.”
Scholtz said the 3% year-on-year increase in tonnage (versus 90 749 tons in 2016) was particularly significant against the backdrop of the political and economic instability, volatile exchange rates and industrial strike action that affected some of the major industry players last year.
She also said water shortages in some provinces had seen an increased consumer demand for bottled water during the latter part of the year.
Scholtz said Petco members paid a voluntary recycling fee on every ton of raw material purchased, which funded their efforts and supported a sustainable recycling industry.
Nokubonga Mnyango, who owns Uthando Solutions and Trading in Empangeni, in KwaZulu-Natal, is one of the many PET collectors who have contributed to these figures through Petco-sponsored training and equipment.
Her business employs six permanent staff, who collected more than a ton of PET per month last year.
“We really appreciate all the support Petco has given us as collectors because it’s not easy, but there are many opportunities in this business,” said Mnyango, who was named a PET-trepreneur at last year’s Petco Awards.
Petco chairperson Casper Durandt, who is also head of technical for Coca-Cola’s South African franchise, said the organisation’s accomplishment could not have been achieved without its partners.
“They have made extraordinary contributions to the recycling of post-consumer PET in South Africa, thereby enabling Petco to expand our collection network, build relationships with recyclers, seek new opportunities to develop and support entrepreneurs, and ultimately grow our recycling tonnages,” he said.
PET collector Violet Selota of Thinana Co-operative surveys a mountain of PET plastic bottles collected on behalf of Petco.