By now, we are all aware of the benefits of recycling, including job creation, the reduction in production costs and carbon footprint diminution. The benefits are boundless and we should all be doing our part when it comes to this constructive activity. We take a look at recycling in South Africa and see what we can do to increase our recycling effort as a country.

More and more individuals and corporates are jumping on the recycling bandwagon by implementing recycling practices within their homes and work places. This is made easier by having a good sorting system. Using a recycling bin such as the Allsorted recycle bin allows you to sort the various recyclable goods into separate bags. As a household or organisation, you should decide which recyclable goods you consume most. For example, a household might consume more plastic waste i.e. ice cream tubs, detergent containers and milk bottles than glass or paper, whereas a corporate office may produce mainly paper ‘waste’ from printing. As with the Allsorted recycle bin, you may want to include paper, metal, plastic or glass compartments. You can also have a general waste section in order to ensure no unwanted waste contaminates the recyclable goods.

While there are some convenient recycling collection programs that service certain urban areas in the country, it is not always as accessible to all. This market gap is currently being filled by waste pickers who sort through the waste of private homes and other areas where formal recycling collection does not exist. While there are some down sides to this informal sector, it also carries massive benefits which include a greater rate of recycling for the country, income to the unemployed and far less waste that goes to landfills. If you don’t have a recycling company that comes to collect your recyclables and you don’t take them to a recycling plant yourself, you are still able to assist the waste pickers who do this in the following ways. Have a bag that is separate to the general / organic waste specifically for recyclable goods such as plastics, metals, glass and paper. Ensure that dirty recyclables such as plastic yoghurt containers and glass beverage bottles are rinsed out in order to prevent the growth of mould and/or disease. This makes it easier and safer for waste pickers to collect your recyclable goods, making it a win-win situation for all.

While it would be ideal to sort and recycle everything, unfortunately not everything is recyclable and some common mistakes can be made when it comes to sorting recyclable items. Have a look at our list of items that can and can’t be recycled.

By employing these almost-effortless recycling procedures, we would be assisting our country (and planet) with saving money and energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating employment and saving space on landfills.

If you would like to go one step further, there are other socially and environmentally responsible efforts one can make that revolve around recycled goods. Many clothing manufacturers are now trying harder to make less of an impact on the environment through the use of recycled materials such as ocean waste and recycled plastics. By supporting companies that do so (especially local ones), you are helping to increase the demand for recycling whilst boosting the economy and smaller businesses.

Another recycling initiative, the Eco brick campaign, has encouraged people to create ‘bricks’ out of plastic 2L cold drink bottles filled with other clean, non-biodegradable waste such as chocolate wrappers and sweet packets. These bricks are then used for projects such as building outdoor furniture and even small shelters. This is a sustainable and cost-effective solution that involves reusing otherwise non-recyclable, non-biodegradable waste, preventing it from landing up on a landfill.

At the end of the day, we should all be doing our part. It can be as simple as sorting your household waste or as intricate as creating clothing fibres from recycled plastics, regardless, we need to be involved in this invaluable activity in order to create a better future for our earth.

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