7 Reasons Recycling Works
Recycling is one of the focus areas of Clean-up SA month in September 2015. But although you may be convinced that recycling is a good idea, some of your friends, family and colleagues may not. Using PET (part of the Polyester family) as an example, there are many good reasons to recycle. As a society, we cannot continue to take, make and simply throw items away as if the world is full of infinite resources. It’s not. PET is a valuable and useful rigid packaging material used primarily in the food and beverage industry, for safely and economically delivering beverages, household and personal care products, fresh fruit and veggies, as well as sauces, spreads and wide range of foodstuffs to us. It is 100% recyclable – and bottles can be recycled over and over again to make new polyester staple fibre for use in pillows, duvet liners, carpets, roof insulation and many other products. Even better, it can be recycled back into packaging including bottles. Right here in South Africa. Saving resources, creating income opportunities and keeping our environment clean. So, here are some of the best arguments for making recycling one of our best habits:
- Recycling helps to keep our towns and cities cleaner, more attractive and healthier. The less trash there is lying about on our streets and elsewhere, the better for us all. People don't want to live in rubbish-strewn environments; tourists don’t want to visit dirty cities.
- Recycling is good for the environment. In 2014 we collected and recycled 64 000 tonnes (about 1.9 billion PET bottles), and this saved South Africa 96,771 tonnes of carbon. This year 70,000 tonnes will be recycled.
- Recycling makes sense for local government: in 2014, 400 000 m3 of landfill space was saved by recycling PET locally. This benefits local government budgets and means fewer resources go into acquiring land for landfill sites.
- Recycling saves money: Reusing and recycling means less costs for municipalities and therefore also for consumers in terms of rubbish collection bills.
- Recycling makes it possible to turn valuable materials back into useful products: A material such as PET is 100% recyclable: PET bottles are made of one of the few polymers that can be recycled into the same form – a new beverage bottle – again. Other products made of recycled PET include staple fibre or resin for clothes, pillows, duvet inners, as well as carpets for cars and many other consumer and industrial uses.
- Recycling helps create permanent jobs: the PET industry alone, through PETCO, collaborates with 31 collection project partners across nine provinces, and currently sustains almost 1200 permanent jobs. Other material streams also create jobs through recycling.
- Recycling creates income opportunities and creates entrepreneurs: Around 44 000 income opportunities are being sustained through PET bottle collection. And in 2014 alone, PETCO introduced 2650 entrepreneurs to PET collection and supported 11 co-operatives and 22 municipalities with training. Other materials streams also create similar opportunities for waste pickers and collectors.