With Global Recycling Day marked annually on 18 March, you can make a big difference to South Africa’s waste crisis by making small changes to your household rubbish routine by separating recyclables for recycling collectors. Not only will this save collectors time, it saves space in your rubbish bin and in our country’s landfills.
Collectors weave through suburbs and cities to retrieve ‘waste’ in return for cash, covering significant distances on foot every day. This material is then sorted and sent to recycling mills and factories for conversion into usable and commercially viable products. In the case of paper, cardboard boxes are used to make new boxes, while office paper is used in toilet paper.
Some recyclables are like gold for waste collectors. Here are 10 recyclable items that you should keep out of your bin and separate for a waste collector.
- Used office paper – no laminated office paper or plastic covers.
- Brown cardboard boxes.
- Food packaging such as cereal, toothpaste, pizza and takeaway boxes (remove food residue; a little grease is ok).
- Grocery delivery bags and take-away bags.
- Milk and juice cartons (depending on the area).
- Plastic milk bottles.
- PET soft drink bottles – various sizes.
- Fabric softener bottles.
- Aluminium soft drink cans.
- Tin cans.
*A box, crate or bag is ideal for storage.
Unfortunately just because it’s recyclable or recycled in South Africa, does not mean a waste collector will take it. Collectors will understandably only take items they will earn money from, not those they cannot sell or are too heavy to pull over long distances. With a bit of kindness and thought, you can make their work a little quicker and easier. It is, however, a good idea to find out what your neighbourhood collectors take.
What to do with other recyclables
- Take glass bottles and food jars to bottle banks at various community centres.
- Contact The Glass Recycling Company
Visit the following websites for more information on various plastics that can and cannot be recycled:
PLASTIC BOTTLE TOPS
Remove plastic tops from bottles and containers for wheelchair initiatives such as Tops and Tags for Wheelchairs: https://www.facebook.com/TopsandTagsforWheelchairs
Contact EWASA (https://www.ewasa.org/) to find your nearest e-waste drop-off centre.
Two golden rules for paper recycling:
- Keep recyclable paper clean and dry. Paper should not be contaminated by wet and rotting food waste, liquids or pet waste.
- Get a bin, box or bucket for your recyclables. Recycling containers don’t need to be fancy or expensive.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.fibrecircle.co.za