Being green is a big trend globally, but are South Africans doing enough to make a positive difference to the environment? Recycling trends come and go. The Glass Recycling Company, our national body encouraging glass recycling, discusses the factors impacting on recycling trends and successes in SA.
The process of recycling glass is proven to lower the levels of air and water pollution by 20% and 50% respectively. What’s more, for every ton of recycled glass used to manufacture new glass, approximately 1.2 tons of non-renewable natural resources that would otherwise have been required to make new glass, is saved.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN WASTE
Glass recycling enables tens of thousands of South Africans to earn a source of income, either by starting and operating glass buy-back centres, or by collecting glass and selling it to these buy-back centres.
Entrepreneurship is a key component in the success of glass recycling in terms of achieving the sustainable recycling culture that is envisaged for South Africa. For this reason, The Glass Recycling Company focusses on supporting glass collection and recycling as a viable business model for the many thousands of entrepreneurs and informal collectors we are proud to call our partners. Accessible and effective recycling infrastructure and mentoring is the vital cornerstone these entrepreneurs require in order to build and sustain their businesses.
SOUTH AFRICAN RECYCLING LEGISLATION
Currently South Africa does not have punitive mandatory legislation in place which makes separation of recyclables at source (whereby recyclable packaging including glass, paper, metal and plastic is separated from the waste stream) across homes, offices, restaurants and bars mandatory. We await government to introduce mandatory separation at source which will result in a substantial increase in collection and recycling rates.
A WORLD LEADING RETURNABLE BOTTLING SYSTEM FOR SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa has one of the most efficient returnable bottle systems in the world, thanks in part to the efforts of some of our country’s brand owners. Most producers of beer, wine and spirits in South Africa make use of returnable glass bottles, which are ultimately returned to the brand owners, sterilised, refilled and redistributed for consumption.
The pleasing end result of South Africa’s highly effective glass recycling and reuse programmes is that 82% of all glass packaging is prevented from finding its way into our country’s landfills.
GREEN EDUCATION – GROWING THE NEXT GENERATION OF GLASS RECYCLERS
With the future of our country in the hands of our youth, it is vital to build enthusiasm amongst the youth regarding recycling and green behaviours. We need to encourage young consumers to ‘recover, reuse and recycle’.
The Glass Recycling Company’s Annual School’s Competition has developed into one of our most successful initiatives. An impressive total in excess of 655 000 kg’s of glass was collected by the schools participating in the latest Annual Schools Competition.