Fair Trade Tourism Partners with PETCO

Fair Trade Tourism Partners with PETCO
25 Jun 2018

Fair Trade Tourism Partners with PETCO

Plastic is one of man’s most utilised materials today. It is strong, durable, cost effective and easy to manufacture, so can be used for many different purposes. However it takes centuries to decompose and it floats, millions of tonnes of it making its way into water systems, often after a single use. Its impact on marine life is now considered one of the world’s greatest threats, with Africa singled out as the second most polluted continent.

Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) is hugely concerned about this issue as the tourism industry relies on the integrity and beauty of our natural environment. It is central to FTT’s mission to support initiatives that safeguard the environment and minimise the damage caused by the tourism industry. Until new technologies emerge, we have both the responsibility and opportunity to minimise our impact through the best possible waste management methods.

PETCO, the PET Plastic Recycling Company, has an important role to play in this regard. At the recent PETCO AGM, Dr Tony Ribbink, CEO of the Sustainable Seas Trust, said, despite the gloom and doom surrounding the plastic pollution problem, much good is also being done with the help of education and awareness programmes. Ribbink says that “industry is also becoming more committed to sustainability and finding solutions where previously there appeared to be none”, which is why Fair Trade Tourism has chosen to work with PETCO. FTT and PETCO want to bring real solutions to the tourism industry and to use their networks to bring people together to make a greater impact on the crisis situation.

PETCO is South Africa’s national industry body accountable for managing the PET plastic industry’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Funded by a voluntary fee, PETCO’s mission is to grow the collection and recycling of PET bottles, after consumer use, on behalf of their members, by financing PET recyclers who buy baled bottles, process them and manufacture feedstock for sale into the manufacturing sector. They also invest in training and skills development projects to grow and expand collection across the country. Ribbink says companies like PETCO are the key to success with their pioneering approach to recycling.

PET bottle recycling in South Africa is doing well. Annual PET plastic bottle recycling increased to 65% of ALL bottles produced in the country in 2017 – up from 55% in 2016, according to recently released figures. This equates to 2.15 billion bottles recycled, creating 64 000 income-generating opportunities for waste collectors, while freeing up 578 000m3 of dwindling landfill space. Cheri Scholtz, CEO of PETCO, says although 2017 saw a 13% fall in the total PET market, PET recycling tonnage grew by 3%. Scholtz says these figures put South African PET recycling on par with global standards, with the organisation setting an ambitious recycling target of 70% by 2020.

Fair Trade Tourism will be hosting workshops on responsible waste management around South Africa, with a focus on the reduction and recycling of plastic and PET bottles. The first workshop will take place in Plettenberg Bay in early August. Anyone interested in attending a workshop can contact Shona (shona@fairtrade.travel).