Recycling waste is easy
ACCORDING to a 2016 World Bank report, South Africa produces 54 425 tonnes of refuse daily, the 15th highest rate in the world. This is expected to increase to 72 146 tonnes a day by 2025.
These are sobering facts to consider as the country’s annual Clean-up and Recycle SA Week winds down this weekend, incorporating Recycling Day SA today.
It is not only an environmental issue, but an economic one. Waste can be a resource – and a provider of jobs – if it is managed better.
And everyone can contribute to making our environment better, and making more of this resource, by doing more to recycle waste at home.
Clean-up and Recycle Week is a good time to ask ourselves if we are doing our bit to preserve the environment and make sure as little refuse as possible goes to strained landfill sites.
In 2012, the total quantity of paper recovered in South Africa was enough to fill 1 380 Olympic-sized swimming pools – and this amount is rapidly growing.
Citizens should be concerned about what happens to their waste and the consequences it has for the environment and people who inhabit it. Considering the quantity of waste paper the country produces, it is notable that paper can be recycled at least seven times, and that paper recycling can save up to 3m3 of landfill space per tonne, which has the knockon benefit of reducing transport and disposal costs for local municipalities.
When we embrace recycling, we help reduce pollution and contribute towards a healthier, greener and cleaner society for ourselves and future generations.
Beyond this, recycling affords over 100 000 people the opportunity to earn an income and support their families.
In addition, schools and other community organisations can raise money by recycling.
Recycling is easy and requires very little effort. It simply involves separating recyclables at home into separate designated containers for paper, plastic, glass and cans.
The recyclables can then be dropped off at a local school, community centre or buy-back centre.
It is important to know what can and cannot be recycled.
It is also worth making an effort to find out what to do with items for recycling – from flattening boxes and rinsing plastic containers, to leaving the items to be collected in the right spot for pick-up if you have a kerbside collection programme running in your area.
By doing this, you will substantially reduce the amount of waste going into your rubbish bin every week.
South Africans need to view their refuse in a different way.
We all need to start seeing refuse as a resource that can be used in ways that can drive the economy.
The company I work for, Mpact, has 42 operating sites across southern Africa, employing almost 5 000 people – making a real and remarkable difference for the environment, rather than something that should just be discarded.