The Star Early Edition - - LIFESTYLE VERVE -

THE AV­ER­AGE amount of waste gen­er­ated by a sin­gle South African in just one year is about 250kg.

This year, don’t be com­pla­cent about re­cy­cling.

You’re prob­a­bly ask­ing your­self: why should I bother to re­cy­cle when my neigh­bour can’t even be both­ered to pick up his cig­a­rette butts?

Well, let’s look at the facts: be­sides global warm­ing, the hu­man pop­u­la­tion is us­ing up the Earth’s re­sources at an alarm­ing rate. En­vi­ron­men­tal an­a­lysts say we’ve al­ready used up 2015’s sup­ply of our planet’s re­sources. That’s a shock­ing ob­ser­va­tion es­ti­mated by the Global Foot­print Net­work (GFN).

The GFN then goes on to ex­plain that hu­man con­sump­tion first be­gan to ex­ceed the Earth’s ca­pac­ity in the early 1970s – the over­shoot day has been fall­ing steadily ever since.

Apart from pa­per and card­board – which many of us have been re­cy­cling for years – it can seem pretty dif­fi­cult to get in­for­ma­tion about what you can re­cy­cle and how you go about do­ing it. But it’s not.

One of the most use­ful guides I found was at

It’s com­piled by founder Laura Grant and is a free, sim­ple How To on re­cy­cling for be­gin­ners.

“We need to look after what we’ve got. And that means liv­ing less waste­ful life­styles, and learn­ing that we can no longer just use things once and throw them away into a land­fill site.

“We need to learn the three Rs: re­duce, re­use, re­cy­cle,” Grant notes. Re­cy­cling in your home starts as early as the trip to the su­per­mar­ket. Think care­fully when shop­ping for house­hold items on how they can be re­cy­cled. Take into con­sid­er­a­tion what ma­te­ri­als can be re­cy­cled like pa­per, plas­tic, metal and RE­CY­CLING a sin­gle plas­tic bot­tle saves enough en­ergy to power a 60W light bulb for four hours. A plas­tic bev­er­age bot­tle takes 450 years to de­com­pose. Glass and plas­tic take the long­est to de­com­pose but are com­pletely re­cy­clable. Ac­cord­ing to a 2010 study, only 3.3% of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion reg­u­larly re­cy­cled house­hold waste. glass. And when in doubt, just don’t buy it.

We live in a coun­try that sup­ports var­i­ous re­cy­cling ini­tia­tives, and one of those are prod­ucts dis­play­ing eco-friendly la­bels on the pack­ag­ing, so be mind­ful when next out shop­ping. Treevo­lu­tion’s handy be­gin­ner’s guide to re­cy­cling in SA lists the es­sen­tials of what can and can­not be re­cy­cled: Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Re­cy­cling Fo­rum (NRF), more than 2 bil­lion steel bev­er­age cans are used ev­ery year in SA with 72% of them be­ing re­cov­ered. Those that are col­lected are then melted down to make new steel cans.

Col­lect-a-Can ac­cepts cool drink and beer cans, aerosol and paint cans as well as alu­minium cans. Just re­mem­ber all cans must be empty on col­lec­tion. All glass bot­tles and jars are 100% re­cy­clable and you can also do your part by reusing them as stor­age con­tain­ers. You can also take cool drink bot­tles back to the shop for a “re­turn” de­posit. Many neigh­bour­hoods have glass banks lo­cated near shop­ping ar­eas – to find a glass bank near you, SMS “Glass” and the name of your sub­urb to 32310. Re­move corks and lids Rinse to re­move residue No need to sep­a­rate dif­fer­ent colours Most pa­per can be re­cy­cled and may be col­lected from your home, pro­vided they are in the cor­rect waste pa­per bags. But to do your part for the en­vi­ron­ment make sure the pa­per you buy is ei­ther re­cy­cled or FSC cer­ti­fied. The For­est Ste­ward­ship Coun­cil ( is USE­FUL INFO Col­lect-a-Can: The Glass Re­cy­cling Com­pany: 0861 2 GLASS (45277) or find your clos­est glass bank MPact Re­cy­cling: 0800 022 112 a not-for-profit al­liance be­tween NGOs, gov­ern­ment, and pa­per and tim­ber play­ers from around the world.

Use a sep­a­rate re­us­able con­tainer for pa­per waste

Keep your waste pa­per clean and dry

Find out from your lo­cal re­cy­cler what pa­per grades should be kept sep­a­rate from the rest These are fruit juice and milk con­tain­ers that look like they’re made from pa­per but are lined with alu­minum foil and plas­tic. Te­tra­pak’s re­cy­cling fa­cil­ity in Ger­mis­ton re­cy­cles the pack­ag­ing into roof tiles, fur­ni­ture and sta­tion­ary.

Many schools do col­lec­tions. Un­for­tu­nately plas­tic is much more dif­fi­cult to re­cy­cle than glass or pa­per, and be­cause of this, most of SA’s plas­tic goes to land­fill sites or makes it way into the ocean. Plas­tics do not biode­grade, and just get bro­ken down into in­creas­ingly smaller par­ti­cles – known as pho­todegra­da­tion. The good news is that there are plas­tic pack­ag­ing that can be re­cy­cled like ice cream con­tain­ers, plas­tic bags and fab­ric soft­ener bot­tles.

Here are the kinds of plas­tic you may come across:

used mainly for bot­tled wa­ter and soft drinks

milk bot­tles, clean­ing prod­ucts and cosmetics

de­scribed as a dif­fi­cult plas­tic, in many cases re­placed with PET

rub­bish bags, frozen veg­etable bags

ice cream tubs, straws and lunch boxes

two types used in meat trays, yo­ghurt tubs


Do­ing your bit for the en­vi­ron­ment starts with the small stuff. Happy re­cy­cling!

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