About 2.15 billion plastic bottles, weighing in at 93 235t, were recycled by the South African PET plastic industry in 2017. This resulted in saving 578 000m3 of landfill space. It also created 64 000 income-generating opportunities in the process.
These statistics are according to the national industry body PETCO, responsible for fulfilling the sector’s mandate of extended producer responsibility (EPR).
The figures equate to a post-consumer bottle-recycling rate of 65 per cent, representing a three per cent year-on-year increase in tonnage.
This is in spite of tough trading conditions and a 13 per cent fall in the total PET market, which was affected by economic volatility and industrial strike action in 2017.
PETCO CEO Cheri Scholtz says the organisation is 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,” she adds.
‘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. It created thousands of income-generating opportunities for small and micro-collectors. It also changed their lives and those of their families in immeasurable ways.’
Scholtz explains that 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, contracted recyclers have paid a total of R2.3 billion to collectors for baled bottles. A total of 609 306t of PET has been recycled to date. This has saved more than 900 000t of carbon and almost four million cubic metres of landfill space.