Record num­ber of plas­tic bot­tles re­cy­cled last year

The Mercury - - NEWS - Mer­cury Cor­re­spon­dent

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.

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