According to a report by Statistics South Africa, only 23.7% of urban households have said that they recycle. If this is true, not enough people are recycling in South Africa which is a major problem for our environment. Depending on your local recycling services, around half of what goes into your bin could actually be recycled and not end up in landfills. For us to actively minimise waste and our impact on the earth, we must turn recycling into a positive lifestyle change that can be easily adopted in any household.
Recycling is an excellent way to save energy and conserve the environment. Did you know:
- One recycled tin can saves enough energy to power a television for three hours.
- One recycled glass bottle saves enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.
- One recycled plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for three hours.
- 70% less energy is required to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials.
- The unreleased energy contained in the average dustbin each year could power a television for 5,000 hours.
- On average, 16% of the money you spend on a product pays for the packaging, which ultimately ends up as rubbish.
In order to do our bit for the planet, we need to produce less waste. This means we need to choose products that have minimal packaging or are recyclable or biodegradable.
To make it easier for you, we’ve made a list of all the items that are currently considered recyclable or not recyclable in South Africa.
What You Can Recycle:
- Cool drink bottles, fruit juice bottles, clear mineral water bottles and tubs
- Milk bottles and cartons, chemical drums, packaging films, domestic cleaning agent bottles, crates, pallets and bins
- Clear jars, food packaging, peel-able lids, bubble wrap, boutique shopping bags, foam sheeting and bread bags
- Aluminium cans, rusty cans
- Paint, oil and aerosol cans (but leave the labels on so recyclers can see if they contain hazardous material)
- Pouches and cap liners
- Yoghurt tubs, margarine tubs, ice cream containers, bottle caps, woven bags, oven bags and takeaway food containers
Don’t get carried away though; certain items don’t belong in your recycling bin and trying to recycle the wrong things will result in contamination. This means your recycling could be rejected and end up on a landfill anyway.
What You Can’t Recycle:
- Car parts
- Nappies and wet wipes
- Food waste
- Plastic shopping bags
- Contaminated domestic cling film
- Cosmetic and personal care containers
- Hot water pipes and cable insulation
- Electronic waste
- Multimaterial packaging films, used for improved shelf life
- Multilayer PET bottles (energy drink bottles, alcoholic beverages and ciders)
- PET films and sheeting (sandwich trays and confectionary packaging)
- Soiled PVC-U packaging
Why not try upcycle some of these items and use them around your home, effectively minimising some of the mess that ends up on landfill sites?
Other ways to reduce your waste include:
- Refusing packaging you don’t need
- Reusing what you have
- Recycling anything that can be recycled
- Taking your own shopping bag to the shops
- Saying no to straws, or opting for a bamboo or glass one
Be sure to give all recyclable items a quick clean to remove any residue. Whether it’s remnants in a yoghurt container or conditioner bottle; it’s better to make sure it’s clean and dry before you pop it in the recycling bin. If you aren’t already doing so, use local recycling facilities such as glass bottle banks, and participate in any recycling service your municipality may offer. If one isn’t available, use the services of a private recycling company. Our planet is worth the effort!
Compiled by Food and Decor Editor, Claire Badenhorst