It is estimated that only 6.1% of metropolitan households in South Africa actively participate in recycling. However, even the most environmentally conscientious people make recycling mistakes. You might even think your home is paperless, so you don’t need to recycle.
Have you considered the sturdy cardboard box and its moulded protective layers that housed your new TV during transit? Or the box from your latest online shopping haul? Cereal boxes? Milk cartons? What about the loo roll core? All of these are recyclable in South Africa.
Fibre Circle, the producer responsibility organisation for the South African paper and paper packaging sector, outlines some of the more common recycling mistakes, with some helpful tips to make sure that paper and cardboard get to where they need to be: to recycling companies in a good, clean state so they can be reprocessed and made into new paper products.
Even though they are made of paper, several items are not suitable for recycling due to food contamination or elements such waxes, foils, laminates, and glues. These products should not be put in your paper recycling bin.
Fix it by:
When wet waste – food waste, cigarette butts and soiled take-away containers – ends up in the paper recycling bin, this contaminates the paper and reduces its value. Paper also starts to degrade and reduces the strength of the fibres.
Fix it with:
a two-bin system – place receptacles for recycling next to bins for food and non-recyclable waste.
teamwork – chat to your family and domestic helpers about your waste separation system.
We are all human. Nobody likes to walk too far to throw something away.
Fix it with:
recycling receptacles in key locations – or bin separators:
in the kitchen
in the bathroom
in the office
near the front door or in the garage
Your family has collected all this paper (and other recycling), and after a while, it all ends up in the general rubbish.
Fix it with:
a sheltered area in which to keep recycled paper clean and dry.
Look up recycling locations in your area: https://recyclepaper.co.za/about-paper-recycling/where-to-recycle/
A note about trees and recycling - You may read or hear that recycling paper saves trees. What if you were asked to save mealies by eating less cornflakes? Crazy, right? Well, that's because just like mealies are farmed for cereal and maize, trees are farmed to make wood and paper products. By using responsibly produced wood and paper, we are keeping tree farmers in business, storing carbon and fighting climate change. www.forestryexplained.co.za