(Cape Town) – A record 2.15 billion plastic bottles, weighing in at 93 235 tonnes, were recycled by the South African PET plastic industry in 2017 – saving 578 000m3 of landfill and creating 64 000 income-generating opportunities in the process.
This is according to national industry body PETCO, which is responsible for fulfilling the sector’s mandate of extended producer responsibility (EPR).
The figures equate to a post-consumer bottle recycling rate of 65%, representing a 3% year-on-year increase in tonnage despite tough trading conditions and a 13% fall in the total PET market, which was affected by economic volatility and industrial strike action in 2017.
PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz said the organisation was thrilled with the latest figures, which puts South Africa on par with international recycling rates.
“Our partnerships with industry players, who demonstrate a keen and genuine commitment to recycling, is what makes results like these possible,” said Scholtz.
“Through the remarkable network of people, companies and organisations we work with, 5.9 million PET bottles were collected for recycling across South Africa every day during the course of 2017, creating thousands of income-generating opportunities for small and micro-collectors, and changing their lives and those of their families in immeasurable ways.”
Scholtz said PETCO members paid a voluntary recycling fee on every tonne of raw material purchased, which funds their efforts and supports a sustainable recycling industry.
Since the organisation’s incorporation in 2004, a total of R2.3 billion has been paid by contracted recyclers to collectors for baled bottles, with a total of 609 306 tonnes of PET recycled to date. This has saved more than 900 000 tonnes of carbon and almost four million cubic metres of landfill space.
Nokubonga Mnyango, who owns Uthando Solutions and Trading in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal, is one of the many PET collectors who have contributed to these figures because of the PETCO-sponsored training and equipment, such as vehicle trailers and protective clothing, aimed at increasing their collection volumes. Her business employs six permanent staff, who collected over a tonne of PET per month during 2017.
“We really appreciate all the support PETCO has given us as collectors because it’s not easy but there are many opportunities in this business,” said Mnyango, who was named a PET-trepreneur at the 2017 PETCO Awards.
PETCO chairman Casper Durandt, who is also head of technical for Coca-Cola’s South African franchise, said the organisation’s accomplishment could not have been achieved without its dedicated partners.
“They have made extraordinary contributions to the recycling of post-consumer PET in South Africa, thereby enabling PETCO to expand our collection network, build relationships with recyclers, seek new opportunities to develop and support entrepreneurs, and ultimately grow our recycling tonnages.”