Global Recycling Day: why it matters.

Global recycling day logo [logo]

Global Recycling Day is celebrated on 18 March every year.

In 2018, the Global Recycling Foundation created Global Recycling Day, which is recognised by the United Nations, as recycling is part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

The mission of Global Recycling Day, as set out by the Global Recycling Foundation, is:

  1. To tell world leaders that recycling is simply too important not to be a global issue, and that a common, joined up approach to recycling is urgently needed.
  2. To ask people across the planet to think resource, not waste, when it comes to the goods around us – until this happens, we simply won’t award recycled goods the true value and repurpose they deserve.

A day that promotes a better future

We are experiencing more droughts, more floods and more wildfires, all a result of climate change caused by industrial activities. As a collective, we all need to play an active part in helping our world to be cleaner and to reduce our impact on our environment as we face a global climate crisis. Recycling is one, effective way to do this and make a positive contribution to a better world. A linear economy is “take, make, dispose of and is not sustainable because it destroys our earth’s natural resources. A circular economy means sustainable production by reusing and recycling resources with as little impact on the earth as possible. Recycling is a key part of the circular economy, which views recyclables as the 7th resource that can be used over and over again.

Global Recycling Day serves as a reminder to recyclers, to keep recycling, whilst creating more awareness and inspiration to those who don’t yet recycle or don’t recycle very often, to start, and to make it a daily habit

Global Recycling Day also serves to mobilise individuals, communities and businesses into action by providing helpful resources, ideas and information on recycling and holds a competition every year to encourage recycling. The competition: #RecyclingHeroes appeals to the public to nominate people, businesses or communities that have made a significant impact towards recycling, and whose efforts contribute to a greener planet. Ten winners from around the world will be awarded and rewarded with $1000 each. Schools in South Africa should consider entering every year if they are part of the Ronnie Recycler Schools Programme. For more info on the #RecyclingHeroes competition and to enter, click here.

Many businesses and organisations also use Global Recycling Day 18 March as a bookmark day to organise clean-ups to separate and collect recyclables. These recyclables, in large amounts, can raise money for charities and organisations in need.


Every year, Global Recycling Day has a new theme that guides the conversation and stimulates ideas for more recycling activities and programmes, while also educating and inspiring more people around the world to recycle.

  • In 2019 – the theme was “Recycling into the future”, which posed the question on how to improve on recycling procedures and processes for long-term sustainability. It encouraged an ideas exchange on what new innovations and technologies could make recycling a cultural and social norm.
  • In 2020 and 2021 – the theme was “Recycling heroes” which highlighted the incredible work that individuals, communities or businesses had done to promote and increase recycling. By showcasing these achievements and positive contributions, Global Recycling Day incentivised more people to recycle. This was bolstered by the message that, through recycling, carbon emissions have been massively reduced (approximately 700 million metric tonnes), resulting in less pollution. The recycling industry also employs 1.6 million people globally. In South Africa, over 100,000 people earn an income from collecting recyclables. Recycling is also the lifeblood for many small businesses and entrepreneurs in South Africa who are dealers and buy-back centre owners and buy recyclables to sell on to branches, converters and the mills.
  • In 2022 – the theme was “The Recycling Fraternity”, which centred around collaboration and working together for a sustainable future. The theme aimed to encourage recycling fraternities and communal effort to collect and recycle bigger volumes of recyclable waste to ensure bigger impact. The idea that we need to change our mindsets and attitudes to waste and rather see it as a resource that can be reused, is the consistent message on Global Recycling Day.
  • For 2023 – the theme is “Creative innovation”. This theme is championing new ways to increase recycling efforts and to use creative ways to transform waste into something useful. It’s something that wholeheartedly speaks our language within the Mpact group because we are continuously identifying innovative ways to beneficiate whatever waste is created in our manufacturing processes as well as designing our products so they are easier to collect and recycle.

Ways that you can celebrate Global Recycling Day, every day.

  1. Separate your recyclables from your general trash

    Keep a separate bin for your recyclables like paper and cardboard, glass, cans and plastic. Depending on how much space you have at your home or office, you can get a 100% recyclable plastic 240 L bin from Mpact Plastic Containers or for smaller spaces, get a tough recycling bag or smaller bin from packaging leaders, on the Mpact Recycling online store hosted by sister company Detpak. Remember to keep your recyclables empty, clean and dry to ensure they get recycled. Mpact Recycling created a humourous series of advertisements, featuring comedians Lindy Johnson and Phil de Lange, to remind everyone to keep recyclables separate, clean, dry and empty.

  2. Leave your recyclables out on the pavement for collection by reclaimers

    Waste collectors or reclaimers, as they are also known (those who collected at landfill sites were called waste pickers), collect recyclables and then sell them to buy-back centres, dealers or recycling branches like the Mpact Recycling branches. This is often the way they make a living to provide for their families and put their children through school. If you see a waste collector pulling a trolley or carrying a big bag of recyclables, be courteous and smile, they are hardworking men and women who are helping to divert valuable recyclables from our overburdened landfills, and helping to keep our streets and neighbourhoods clean. Check out this video from 5FM, DJ Nick Hamman who speaks to Luyanda Hlatshwayo from the African Reclaimers Association (ARO) about the importance of recycling and the role reclaimers play in the eco system.

  3. Join a recycling programme

    Did you know there are various recycling programmes for schools, offices and even residential estates? Mpact Recycling offers the Ronnie Recycler Schools Programme; a Residential Estates Programme and also offers collections from offices. This is a perfect example of the Global Recycling Day’s 2022 theme of “The Recycling Fraternity”. It’s a convenient and affordable way to have your recyclables collected and go back into the recycling stream to be made into new products.

  4. Take your recyclables to a drop-off site

    If there is no recycling programme in your neighbourhood or estate, keep your recycling in plastic bags and take them to a recycling branch, also called drop-off sites. You can find them here.

    Many municipal garden sites also offer recycling sections, so there is no shortage of place to take your recyclables.

  5. Encourage others to recycle

    The more people recycle, the more recyclable waste is diverted from our full-to-capacity landfills, and the more recyclables can be made into new products. This drives the circular economy, which helps to protect our natural resources and uses less water and energy, reducing pollution and helping to curb climate change.

Want to know what can and cannot be recycled?

It’s important to know what can be recycled and what can’t be. You can tell if a product is recyclable by looking at the label. In the case of plastic packaging, there are numbered codes (from 1- 7) within chasing arrows called the mobius loop. See what each code means and what codes Mpact Recycling takes in the table below.

Resin Identification CodeResinCurrently taken by Mpact Recycling
1 PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) Yes
2 HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) Yes
3 PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)  
4 LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene) Yes
5 PP (Polypropylene) Yes
6 PS (Polystyrene)  

If you see a product that’s not packaged in recyclable packaging, you can choose to simply not buy it – you could even contact the producer and challenge them to designing their packaging to be recycled. Wherever possible, buy products only in recyclable packaging. Here’s a helpful motto to live your life by, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”.

Unfortunately, for other grades of material like paper and cardboard the codes are a bit more confusing. To make it easier for you - download Mpact Recycling’s Waste Classification Guide here. This will remind you of what goes into the recycling bin, and what goes into the regular dustbin. Print it out and stick it up at your office, school, estate community centre/ clubhouse, or on your fridge at home.

Share your ideas, tips and advice, and any events you attended (like Global Recycling Day events) on social media or by telling family, friends and colleagues. There is still much work to be done to get the word out that recycling can create a better future for now, and for the next generation.

Contact Mpact Recycling for any recycling questions you may have, or click here to contact us to find a drop-off site for your recyclables.

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