PETCO at the Plastics Colloquium

PETCO at the Plastics Colloquium
03 Dec 2019

PETCO at the Plastics Colloquium

PETCO recently attended the two-day Plastics Colloquium, which brought together over 300 delegates representing government, the plastics industry, the informal sector and NGOs.

Called by the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, its purpose was to take the first steps towards a practical master plan for improving plastic waste management in South Africa.

Currently, 50% of plastic is not being recycled, and ends up in landfills and the environment.

The PET plastics sector is dealing with this more effectively, having recycled 63% of all PET plastic bottles produced last year.

Like many people, the Minister was surprised to learn at the Colloquium that PET plastic bottles can be recycled back into new bottles (bottle-to-bottle recycling) and into polyester fibre that can be turned into household textiles, clothing and other useful products.

Some of the topics also under discussion at the Colloquium included:
• the value of a circular economy in which materials are recycled in an infinite loop at their highest value but at the lowest cost to society at large;
• how to design products for recycling and reuse; and
• the need to change consumer behaviour to support recycling efforts.

At a municipal level, the minister acknowledged that 35% of households in South Africa do not receive basic weekly refuse collection and said provincial and national government were working to support municipalities to expand collection.

Of course, once that waste is collected, the question is what to do with it. Minister Creecy said waste had the potential to become big business and that the circular economy could be a valuable tool to create jobs.

The statistics speak for themselves:
• Every tonne of waste that goes into a landfill creates one job.
• Every tonne of waste that is recycled creates 18 jobs.

Having created more than 60 000 income-generating opportunities for waste reclaimers last year alone, PETCO is excited to be exploring common ground with other stakeholders and waste streams. We cannot change the recycling landscape alone – working hand-in-hand, we will be able to achieve so much more.