South Africa’s National Waste Management Strategy aims to see all South African households in the country’s major centres separating household waste by 2016, but the reality is that most South African households do not know how or what to recycle, nor do they know where to dispose of their household recyclables.

Mpact Recycling aligns with government waste management objectives by making recycling easier

South Africa’s National Waste Management Strategy aims to see all South African households in the country’s major centres separating household waste by 2016, but the reality is that most South African households do not know how or what to recycle, nor do they know where to dispose of their household recyclables.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) study reveals that as much as a quarter of all the municipal waste generated in South Africa comprises mainline recyclables such as glass, paper, tins and plastics. The disposal of these recyclables as municipal waste is compromising the lifespan of the country’s landfills, many of which are running out of space.

“Recycling is a critical part of developing a sustainable environment and economy in South Africa ,” says John Hunt, managing director of Mpact Recycling, the biggest paper recycler in South Africa. “We believe that disposal of waste into landfills should be a last resort. Given our country’s environmental and economic history, it has never been more crucial for us to separate and correctly dispose of household and business recyclables.”

Hunt continued, “Waste management in South Africa has to start with awareness and a deliberate shift in mindset. Mpact Recycling has been very active, encouraging South Africans to recycle, while also simplifying this process for them and in essence, trying to make recycling convenient. The CSIR report reflects this objective, in its finding that more South Africans might start to recycle and continue to recycle if it was convenient to do so.

“Our goal is to achieve this through educational programmes in schools and communities, based on the 3 R’s of recycling - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Our programmes are also intended to educate people not only on how to recycle, but that recyclable waste is an economic asset. Reducing, re-using, and recycling waste opens up opportunities for social economic development in the country.”

Mpact Recycling is the leading paper recycler in South Africa, with seven sites across the country collecting approximately 450 000 tonnes per annum of recovered paper through programmes that include commercial, kerbside, schools, churches, communities, housing complexes, offices and an extensive network of agents and dealers. Aside from its own operations in major cities, Mpact Recycling has set up over 40 buy-back centres, where traders deliver waste paper for payment, and also buys additional material from a network of independent dealers throughout the country.

“We’re in the business of sustainability through our active contribution to job creation, economic value and environmental stewardship,” says Hunt. “The recycling industry contributes to the employment of more than 100,000 South Africans, which supports the sustainability of job creation in our country. In addition, we actively create opportunities for people to start their own recycling businesses.

“Again, recyclable waste is an economic asset with the potential to fuel sustainable growth in this country and everyone can get involved and make a difference simply by separating and sorting their recyclables.”

Last year, Mpact announced a major move into plastics recycling when it unveiled plans for a R350-million state-of-the-art polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling plant. The new plant will process about 29 000 tons of PET plastic bottles a year, generating 21 000 tons of new raw material directly from what was previously considered waste material that would have been sent to landfill sites. Collecting and processing 29 000 tons of PET bottles amounts to a saving of about 180 000 cubic metres of landfill space each year, the equivalent of 75 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Mpact anticipates that about 1 000 jobs will be created directly and indirectly to operate the new plant and collect the plastic (PET) bottles needed as input material. This project is regarded as a good fit with the Industrial Development Corporation’s chemicals strategy in terms of downstream processing of chemicals, job creation and industrial development. In addition, the rPET recycling plant will enable Mpact to offer customers an alternative local supply of rPET, which allows them to reduce their own carbon footprints. Consumers will also benefit from the use of rPET in packaging as it reduces the cost of new packaging.