This Mother Earth Day (April 20), Capetonians are facing not one, but two, significant challenges – one in the spotlight for some time, that is, running out of water, and the second a potential waste crisis as the city’s landfills rapidly reach maximum capacity.
Latest reports quote the Western Cape Environmental Affairs Department having said some of the province’s landfill sites could reach full capacity in less than a year while Environmental Affairs MEC spokesperson James-Brent Styan said less than half of the province’s 164 landfill sites are operational.
One of the factors contributing to this state is opposition towards new initiatives like regional waste disposal sites and waste-to-energy plants (http://www.infrastructurene.ws/2018/04/11/waste-crisis-looms-in-the-western-cape/).
Another is the fact that, with the increase in consumption of bottled water in Cape Town, the volume of bottles needing to be recycled is threatening to overwhelm local recycling capacity. It’s a fact South African National Bottled Water Association (SANBWA) members are working to address.
According to SANBWA Executive Director, Charlotte Metcalf, joint efforts driven by PETCO and supported by its members and associate members – including bottled water producers – aim to prevent these additional bottles having to be sent to landfill.
They are achieving this by transporting baled bottles to a recycling facility with excess capacity in Gauteng for processing. And, Metcalf added, consumers can play their part.
“Working together with PETCO, SANBWA has sponsored another truckload and so, too, has Woolworths, which saw bottled water sales soar during February and March this year,” she said.
“I spend a considerable part of my day seeking additional sponsors so we can relieve the pressure being out on recycling facilities in the Western Cape. But consumers can help, too, by following a few simple guidelines laid out by PETCO (see below).
“This Mother Earth Day, SANBWA urges Capetonians to look at both their water usage and their waste processing in a new light, and to make the change that a sustainable future in this beautiful part of the world requires.
“It also challenges bottled water bottlers and retailers to follow Woolworths’ example to sponsor transport of baled bottles to recycling facilities in other parts of the country.”
Chandru Wadhwani, Joint Managing Director of Extrupet and PETCO board member, said: “For me the pressing driver here is to ensure that the extra volume of PET bottles that has found its way to the Western Cape on the back of the water crisis finds a home in recycled products.
“Just by way of scale, each of the 15MT loads sponsored by SANBWA and Woolworths represents half a million bottles recycled; half a million bottles that otherwise would not have been. This is the ultimate value of this initiative and companies like and Woolworths, and bodies like SANBWA, need to be commended for setting the perfect example of what extended producer responsibility entails.”
South Africa currently recycles more than 55% of its PET, one of the highest rates worldwide. Extrupet has a fibre producing plant in Milnerton in Cape Town and a Bottle-2-Bottle plant in Wadeville, Johannesburg, where recycled PET plastic bottles are used to manufacture new bottles for many food-grade applications or recycled into a myriad of new and useful products such as polyester fibre for duvets and pillows, jeans and t-shirts, and reusable shopping bags. This process has made South Africa a self-sufficient manufacturer of polyester fibre, no longer reliant on imports.
Recycling tips from PETCO:
• If collecting from a water point, it will be helpful to re-use your PET bottles, especially the 5 litre bottles.
• When re-using PET bottles for water storage, please ensure that they are clean. PET bottles are safe for use and reuse so long as they are washed properly with detergent and a little water to remove bacteria, as you would any other container.
• When dropping PET bottles off for recycling, there is no need to wash them.
• Please do not throw the bottles away when you are finally finished using them – bottles should never be sent to landfill sites or end up as litter in the environment. PET bottles are fully recyclable when basic design principles are followed. Take your bottles to one of the following City of Cape Town drop off facilities where they will be sent to PETCO Member Companies for recycling: www.capetown.gov.za/Work%20and%20business/See-all-City- facilities/Our-service-facilities/Drop-off%20facilities
• Please leave the caps on, as these are also recyclable.
Did you know?
• South Africa has two state-of-the art PET bottle-2-bottle recycling plants? Here bottles are recycled so that they can be made into new bottles. As they are blended with virgin material in various proportions, they can be recycled again and again. Watch the video here: www.youtube.com/The PETCO Bottle-to-bottle Film
• South Africa has three state-of-the-art fibre producing plants where PET bottles are recycled into polyester staple fibre? This fibre fills our pillows and duvets, goes into our reusable shopping bags, goes into jeans. We don’t need to import polyester staple fibre into SA anymore – we are self-sufficient.
• South Africa has an industry leader that manufactures industrial geotextiles in South Africa from recycled PET bottles? This geotextile is used in lining of landfill sites, tunnel construction, and power station construction.