Green Living, sustainability

How Can I Start Recycling?


PET plastic products are mainly beverage bottles, but increasingly other types of packaging are also made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate).

How Can I Start Recycling?

When you become a PET collector, you can make an income while also helping to clean up our environment and working for a better life for all. Here are some of the steps you can take to become a PET collector.

  1. Decide what you would like to collect. It is often a good idea to collect for more than one organisation – for instance, different kinds of plastics, but also cans, bottles and paper.
  2. There are many sources of materials to collect:
  • Community brings waste to you
  • Collect from households and open spaces
  • Collection from areas where a lot of PET and other packaging materials are used, such as e.g. taverns, restaurants, hotels, stadiums, sports fields, outdoor events, shopping centres, schools, picnic spots, offices and factories
  1. Discuss your plans with other people who may already be collecting materials for recycling. They will have good practical advice.
  2. Plan your collections. The best way to start, is to contact recycling companies such as PETCO for advice and ask them:
  • What kinds of recyclable materials do they buy?
  • How much do you pay per kilogram or ton?
  • Do I need to clean or sort items for recycling in any specific way?
  • What sorting equipment do they supply (bulk bags, racks, sorting table, etc.)?
  • Where can I deliver items I have collected?
  • Do they collect from small collectors? How much do I need to store in order for them to collect from me?
  • How often do they collect?
  • Where can I drop off materials for recycling if I have my own transport?
  • During what times do they accept items from collectors?
  1. Make note of all the information you have gathered and put together a business plan and schedule of work for yourself. Many organisations help small businesses to put together business plans .
  2. Set up your own drop-off point (people bring and you sell) or your own buy-back centre (people bring, you pay them and sell)
  3. Set up a separation at source operation at a shopping centre, residential complex or abusiness that produces recyclable waste. This simply means that you do the sorting of recyclable materials on their behalf.
  4. DO visit petco.co.za or www.mywaste.co.za to find the closest collection point to drop off your PET for recycling

How can I start PET recycling at my school?

Selling recyclable waste can become a source of revenue for your school. You could fund books, computers, sports tours and other facilities and activities in this way.

Any school can participate in PET recycling if you follow the three basic steps to get started:

Step 1: Set up a waste management committee

  • Ensure that all interested parties (school management, educators, learners and parents) understand why PET plastic recycling is important and are all committed to make it work
  • Ensure that the principal of your school fully supports the project. This is vital.
  • The following representatives are very important:
    • a representative from the school’s management is involved
    • at least three representatives from among the educators
    • at least one a representative from the school governing body
    • one or more earner representatives. This is very important, because learners will assist in generating awareness and support amongst their peers and parents
    • a representative from the school cleaning staff
  • Appoint a waste coordinator, who will take responsibility for the project. That person will also have to
    • Drive the implementation of the project
    • Ensure that all involved are trained
    • Hold regular meetings with the waste management committee
    • Keep the school management informed about what the team is doing
  • Find out from local recycling companies what minimum quantity of PET plastic you need to collect before a recycler will collect it from your school.
  • Determine how much PET your school generates per week or month.
  • Determine how much other types of recyclable waste (e.g. paper, cans, glass) you will have to collect in order to produce enough for a collection company to be prepared to collect from your school.
  • Determine where your school produces the most waste (for instance classrooms, sport fields, playground, offices, tuck-shop).
  • Determine whether you want to, or will need to, collect via people dropping off recyclables at your school. Decide how you will do this.
  • You could get some useful additional advice from others who run existing collection points or centres. Visit petco.co.za or www.mywaste.co.za to find the closest collection points

Step 2: Conduct a waste audit

Step 3: Set up the school recycling collection centre

What do you need?

  • Space – sufficient, enclosed, undercover and secure space to store the PET until there is the minimum amount for collection
  • A safe and protected area where…
    • collected material is enclosed and does not blow around the school
    • collected material is protected from the elements
    • there is security to prevent vandalism or illegal dumping
  • Access – your site should be easily accessible to both the collector and people like parents and others community who may be given permission to drop-off recyclables.
  • Equipment
    • Bulk bags to store place your recyclables for collection. You can ask your collector to supply you with some if it as part of their service
    • A scale, especially if you are planning to arrange competitions between various classes, year groups and other groups to stimulate participation
    • Some office equipment and someone who will be responsible for simple record-keeping
    • Protective clothing – ensure that all volunteers and cleaning staff have the necessary protective clothing, e.g. gloves
  • Health and Safety – consider the possible odour, effect of insects, bees and high traffic, and keep the area clean and organised so that you can avoid fires and other risks
  • Security - so that there is no illegal dumping of trash on your school grounds.

PETCO offers further advice, as well as educational material such as posters, DVD’s and PET collection bags for events that detail the PET recycling process.

You can also apply to hire banners for special events such as sports days, fun days or fêtes.

Contact PETCO on 0860 147 738 or at info@petco.co.za. Also visit us on Twitter and Facebook