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Plastic bottle pilot could become serious business in South Africa

A programme to boost plastic bottle collection and recycling rates, raise green jobs and divert waste from landfill is being rolled out across South Africa.

Following a pilot in Limpopo Province north of Johannesburg in March 2020, the PETCO Separation at Source programme has expanded into a second province, Kwazulu Natal. PETCO, the national industry organisation that supports plastic bottle recycling, has donated 120 recycling bins, 50 bulk bags, a storage container and a trailer.

The colour-coded green (glass), yellow (plastics), blue (paper) and red (cans) bins placed at schools, communities and businesses will allow residents and businesses to separate their household waste for the first time.

Isphepho (isiZulu meaning ‘tornado’) collects recyclables from the community while facilitating clean-ups in Durban. So far, 20 schools have joined the programme and at least 10 tonnes of PET is collected every month. The number of participating schools is expected to increase to 50 next year.

‘The awareness and participation in recycling among residents is very limited,’ says Isphepho’s representative Londi Mbuyisa whose vision is ‘to create a focus within communities on the value of the circular economy’.

PETCO says separation at source ensures valuable recyclables stay out of the environment and are recovered for use in the recycling industry. ‘These projects also have the potential to contribute towards improving the lives and livelihoods of the most marginalised communities.’

PET recycling in South Africa has created income for more than 60 000 people a year since 2018.

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