Press releases

Recycling offers hope for South Africa’s employment landscape

Johannesburg, 16 September 2019: Employment stability and growth opportunities offered by the South African recycling sector play a significant role in the development of our country. Leading South African recycler, Mpact Recycling, along with other industry partners, are major contributors to increasing employment opportunities; despite recycling not yet being recognised as an official economic sector. The plastic waste industry has begun tracking employment information and PlasticsSA reports that in 2018 plastic waste recycling provided stable employment for around 7 800 people, which was an increase of around 2 000 jobs from the previous year.

In light of National Recycling Day on 20 September, Mpact Recycling is urging the country to gain a better sense of the wider impact its waste is having. Good recycling practices contribute to economic growth and job creation, and reduce social and environmental costs. This in turn positively impacts the circular economy, where waste items are re-used or recycled to be made into something new in an effort to eliminate waste reaching landfills.

A 2017 study undertaken by the CSIR, on behalf of Packaging SA, highlights the potential economic value and employment opportunities that could be realised through paper and packaging recycling. The report estimates that R712.5-million in economic value could be unlocked from the collection of waste material for recycling. Further value could be added through the indirect benefits of job creation and cost savings from diverting recyclable waste away from landfills.

In 2018, Mpact Recycling collected over 630 000 tonnes of paper, plastic, glass and cans (recyclables) from pre-and post-consumer sources. Closing the loop on paper and plastic waste reduces the amount of material going to landfills, promotes local beneficiation of raw materials and supports employment and the development of small businesses.
Our local industry has worked hard to change the face of recycling. In fact, South Africa is ahead of international standards and is currently a world leader in recycling. To illustrate, South Africa’s paper recovery rate is well above the global average of 59.3% (ICFPA, 2019 Sustainability Progress Report), currently sitting at 70% according to RecyclePaperZA. Over the past 10 years, more than 11.3 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging have been recovered for recycling. If baled, this amount would cover the surface of 2 055 soccer fields, one metre deep. On the plastic front, the recycling rates for PET bottles has improved over the years, with South Africa currently recycling around 67% of all plastic PET bottles produced – up from 55% in 2016.

It’s been just over two years since Mpact Recycling opened its R46-million liquid packaging recycling plant at its Springs Paper Mill in Johannesburg. “Our state-of-the-art facility has the capacity to recycle 24 000 tonnes of used liquid cartons per year. This equates to a saving of 65 240m3 of landfill space, as well as a saving of approximately 11 400 tonnes of carbon emissions,” says John Hunt, Managing Director of Mpact Recycling. “Liquid cartons, such as milk, juice and custard boxes have in the past been a waste contributor to South Africa’s landfill sites as they were previously not recyclable. We are now aiming to educate South Africans to recycle these products, which often dominate our weekly grocery shops,” adds Hunt.

The National Domestic Waste Collection Standards strongly encourage the separation of waste materials at source, which is at home, or your office, for example. Separating at source is the best way to divert waste from landfills and is the first step in the recycling journey.  With landfill capacity rapidly decreasing and immense economic incentive to further improve the recycling volumes in South Africa, solving the waste challenges will require a team effort of cultivating awareness, investing in recycling businesses and taking responsibility for reducing, reusing and recycling. PlasticsSA estimates that 70% of all South Africa’s recycled waste in 2018 originated from landfill and other post-consumer sources.

“With the recycling industry providing increasingly effective recycling infrastructure and support, and with the economic and employment opportunities afforded by recycling, there are positive prospects for the sector and nation as a whole if South Africans increase their commitment to recycling,” concludes Hunt.

About Mpact Recycling

Mpact Recycling, part of the JSE listed organisation, Mpact, is the leading paper and PET recycler in South Africa that collects approximately 630 000 tonnes of paper, plastic, glass and cans (recyclables). The recovered paper material is supplied to the Mpact Group’s paper mills for the manufacturing of recycled-based cartonboard and containerboard, which is sold to the South African packaging industry.  Collected PET materials are sold to other recycling industry partners for processing.

While a great deal of recycled material is purchased from independent dealers nationwide, a portion also stems from Mpact Recycling’s numerous pick-up programmes via schools, communities, offices and households. These initiatives aim to not only raise recycling awareness but to also push recycling levels to new heights. One of these initiatives includes their recognisable Ronnie Bag kerbside collection programme.

Mpact Recycling has a strong recycling heritage spanning over 50 years. The company’s business is focused on sustainability through active job creation, economic value and environmental stewardship. Today, the CSIR estimates that the recycling industry provides income opportunities for around 60 000 – 90 000 waste pickers alone.

Aside from 17 of its own operations in major centres around South Africa, Mpact Recycling has over 45 buy-back centres where traders deliver waste paper and plastic for payment.

Mpact Recycling
011 538 8600
www.mpactrecycling.co.za
Facebook, Instagram & Twitter: @MpactRecycling