Recycling for your average suburban household in South Africa is a bit of a schlep: the infrastructure for collecting recyclable material isn’t really in place – yet. Households generally have to separate their rubbish and take the recyclables to a municipal drop-off centre or a buy-back centre because there’s not much in the way of kerbside collection. Many people just can’t be bothered. But, there are also many people out there who would recycle if they knew how to. This guide aims to help you get started.
How good is South Africa at recycling? The recovery rates for various materials are as follows:
- Cans: 69 percent
- Paper: 59 percent
- Glass: About 25 percent
- Plastic: About 17 percent
Informal recyclers recover much of this material from dustbins and landfill sites. This is not ideal, firstly from the point of view of the health and safety of the recyclers. But also because the recyclable material is contaminated with other waste. First prize would be if households sorted their waste, so that “uncontaminated” recyclable material could be collected.
WHY YOU SHOULD RECYCLE
WHAT CAN BE RECYCLED?
- Colddrink and beer cans
- Food tins
- Metal lids of glass jars
- Aluminium cans (eg, Red Bull), foil and foil packaging
- Paint, oil and aerosol cans (leave labels on them so recyclers can see whether they contain hazardous material).
- Rusty cans can be recycled
- Beverage bottles
- Food jars such as tomato sauce, jam and mayonnaise bottles
The following CANNOT be recycled
- White office paper
- Magazines and books (as long as nothing is laminated)
- Cardboard (boxes and cereal boxes).
The following CANNOT be recycled:
- Laminated or waxy paper
- Punch confetti
- Carbon paper
Plastics are made from oil, a non-renewable resource, and much of the plastic packaging we use every day is recyclable. Ice cream and milk containers, fabric softener bottles, plastic bags and even cling-wrap can all be recycled.
Disposable batteries are not recycled – this is apparently because the material recovery rate is too small to make recycling economically viable. But they should not be thrown away with ordinary household waste either, because they contain toxic chemicals that can leach into the soil and groundwater. Rechargeable batteries, on the other hand, are recyclable. Add to this the fact that they last a lot longer than ordinary batteries and you have a compelling argument to buy rechargeables from now on.
You CANNOT recycle
Please keep recycling and spread the word, it is really easy if you put your mind to it.
Contact us for more information and ideas. If you have any home recycling ideas, please send them to us and we will try and share them.