Re­cy­cling waste is easy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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