Some good news for a change - over 2-billion PET plastic bottles were recycled in South Africa last year.
Plastic bottle recycled tonnage in SA has grown by over 800% since 2005 says PETCO (the organization responsible for fulfilling the South African PET plastic industry’s role of Extended Producer Responsibility).
Its figures indicate that the annual PET recycling rate has grown from 52% of post-consumer bottle PET in 2015, to 55% in 2016, exceeding their expected target.
PETCO recycled an additional 22% of post-consumer bottles in comparison to the previous year, with the total PET market growing by 14.8% to 241 269 tons.
PETCO CEO, Cheri Scholtz, commented, “PETCO is delighted with the latest figures. Through the remarkable network of people, companies and organisations we work with, 2billion PET bottles were collected for recycling across South Africa during the course of 2016, creating some 62 000 income opportunities for small and micro-collectors, and changing their lives and those of their families in immeasurable ways."
“The voluntary recycling fee paid annually by PETCO members on every ton of raw material purchased has enabled the payment of a total of R1,9-billion by our contracted recyclers to collectors for baled bottles since the inception of PETCO in 2004. This incentive ensures that the collection of PET bottles for recycling is sustained, and results in almost 800 000 tons of carbon and over 3-million m3 of landfill space has been saved to date," she says.
Casper Durandt, Chairman of PETCO and Senior Technical Operations Manager Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa, also commented, “While this is an extremely proud accomplishment for PETCO, we could not have achieved this without the dedicated partners we work with. They have made extraordinary contributions to the recycling of post-consumer PET in South Africa, thereby enabling PETCO to expand our collection network, build relationships with recyclers, seek new opportunities to develop and support entrepreneurs, and ultimately grow our recycling tonnages.”
Adds Chandru Wadhwani, Joint Managing Director of Extrupet (Pty) Ltd. and PETCO board member, “PETCO’s achievement of collecting 90 749 tons in 2016 was beyond remarkable. For those of us who have long memories in this industry, it is extraordinary to have crossed the 90 000 ton mark so early on in PETCO’s young evolution. Considering what was the “lay of the land” at the beginning of 2016, there were only hurdles and obstacles which had many of us believing that the collection figure for the year would have gone backwards from the previous year. This is ultimately an achievement built on teamwork, coordinated at its finest through the exemplary efforts of PETCO. Credit is extended to all the members for their continued support. They set the perfect example of what “extended producer responsibility” entails and their continuous drive to grow their achievements have become the benchmark for many other organisations in SA, as well as internationally”.
South Africa’s 55% recycling rate compares well with international PET recycling rates. The US rate of post-consumer PET recycling hovers around the 30% mark while European average rates are around 59%.
PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is an incredibly sophisticated plastic most commonly used to manufacture bottled-water and cool-drink packaging. But after it’s been used, PET can be recycled into many new and useful products, including being turned back into bottles.As with virgin PET, recycled PET (rPET) can be used to make many new products, including polyester staple fibre/filament used for apparel (clothing), home textiles (duvets, pillows, carpeting), automotive parts (carpets, sound insulation, boot linings, seat covers) and industrial end-use items (geotextiles and roof insulation), and new PET packaging and
bottles for both food and non-food products. It is generally blended in a ratio of virgin to recycled, depending on the application required. It’s too valuable to be thrown in with the rubbish!