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Plastic bottle recycling record for South Africa

The South African plastics industry recycled a record 2.15 billion polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles in 2017, according to industry body PETCO. This is seen as being an impressive result during tough trading conditions and a 13% fall in the overall PET market.

The 93 235 tonnes of collected plastic bottles exceeded South Africa’s annual recycling target of 58% for 2017, hitting a recycling rate of 65%, which echoes international standards.
Additionally, more than 64 000 jobs were created for waste pickers, collectors and recyclers, while saving 578 000 cubic metres of landfill space and 139 000 tonnes of carbon in the process.

5.9 million bottles per day

PETCO ceo Cheri Scholtz was ‘thrilled’ with the latest figures, which represent a 3% year-on-year increase in tonnage (versus 90 749 tonnes in 2016). She points out that the record was achieved against a backdrop of the political and economic instability, volatile exchange rates and industrial action.
‘Through the remarkable network of people, companies and organisations we work with, 5.9 million PET bottles were collected for recycling across South Africa every day during 2017, creating thousands of income-generating opportunities for small and micro-collectors, and changing their lives and those of their families in immeasurable ways,’ Scholtz said. The outcome demonstrates the industry’s commitment to recycling as well as the economic value of recycled plastics in the circular economy, she added.

Voluntary backing

Furthermore, Scholtz noted that PETCO members pay a voluntary recycling fee on every tonne of raw material purchased to support the recycling infrastructure. Since 2004, contracted recyclers have contributed a total of R2.3 billion to collectors for baled bottles, reflecting the 609 306 tonnes of PET recycled to date. These efforts have saved more than 900 000 tonnes of carbon and almost four million cubic metres of landfill space.

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