In honor of Clean-Up and Recycle Week 2022, Fiber Circle, the producer responsibility organization for the paper and paper packaging industry, is calling on businesses and consumers to practice better source separation and to turn “trash into treasure”.
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In 2021, South Africans helped recycle 1.15 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging.
To put this figure into perspective, the bales of paper recovered in 2021 would stretch over a distance of 1,357 km if the bales were put end to end. It’s from Johannesburg to Cape Town!
While South Africa has a thriving paper recycling economy, much more can be done at the household, school and business level to turn waste into wealth, especially for informal waste collectors and small businesses. of recycling.
Recyclable materials have a value for collectors, which is monetary. For paper, packaging and tissue manufacturers, old paper products are ingredients for new products.
There are many products that we touch or use every day that need to be kept out of the trash and kept separate for recycling.
This is called source separation, by keeping paper and paper packaging clean and dry we maximize their potential for reuse and divert them from landfills.
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Source separation starts with the small gesture of putting a trash can or paper box only in the kitchen and filling it with your recycled paper. One tonne of recovered paper will save three cubic meters of rapidly shrinking landfill space.
Be kind to the planet and the trash collectors and put a bag of your clean recyclables next to your trash can on Trash Day. It will save collectors a lot of time and is more hygienic for them.
It’s always a good idea to check with your local collector what they collect, as they won’t take recyclables they can’t sell to a buy-back centre.
Common recyclable papers collected by waste collectors include cardboard, office paper, dry food wrappers such as cereal boxes, pizza and burger boxes – remove as much food residue as possible, pits toilet paper, grocery delivery bags and take-out bags, milk and juice cartons (depending on areas), paper-based soft drinks and coffee cups (depending on areas).
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Some paper items may be recyclable but are not collected by waste collectors – you can take them to a local recycling centre.
Besides paper items, many collectors will pick up PET cold drink bottles, fabric softener bottles, tins and cans.
Do not add them to the recycling of food waste, diapers, tissues and toilet paper, paper towels or heavily soiled paper such as paper plates or laminated office paper.
Fun fact: Since 2003, the South African paper industry has diverted over 20 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging from landfills.
This saved 62 million cubic meters of landfill space. If baled, the amount of paper would go 1.5 times around the equator.
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