Most residents are participating and while it's still a little early to tell if our efforts are making a significant impact on our refuse bill, we can rest assured we are doing our part to "save the planet". Maybe this update will 'guilt-trip' those that are not yet separating their recyclables to do so. Below are some facts, figures and tips:
On paper, cans, glass & plastic:
Other interesting recycling facts & figures:
- Up to 60% of the rubbish that ends up in the dustbin could be recycled
- It costs at least three times more to dump rubbish in landfills that it cost to reuse and recycle
- On average, 16% of the money you spend on a product pays for the packaging, which ultimately ends up as rubbish
- As much as 50% of waste in the average dustbin could be composted
- Every person in SA produces between a 0.5 kg and 2 kgs of waste daily, which equates to two bins of urban waste per week [http://www.environment.gov.za]
The recycling logo
Before glibly throwing all of your plastic containers into the recycling box, the first port of call is the base of your container. If it doesn't have the recycling logo with the number INSIDE the triangle or the abbreviation below the logo (PET, PP, HDPE etc), then it cannot be recycled. There are a number of culprits who believe that they're packaging in recyclable containers, but because they do not have the logo and accepted number, these are instead contributing to landfill - watch out for them! (pressure them to change; write them an email or phone them).
Recycle your e-waste
e-waste: electrical & electronic equipment such as TVs, computers, cell phones and household appliances. Computers are one of the messiest contributors to the environment. They give off carcinogens and toxic waste, and going the extra mile to recycle them, rather than just turfing them, is made that much easier by companies such as Computer Scrap Recycling and Virgin Earth.
One of the easiest options is to use your computer manufacturer's take-back programme, if there is one. Dell, who is working very hard on their green image, claim to lead the industry in their free home pick-up programme (if you're buying a Dell computer) - they're the only IT company providing free recycling of products for consumers in 57 countries. You could also donate your working computer to a charity or use freecycle.org Nokia have started a cell phone recycling programme, and you can refill your printer ink cartridges at Cartridge Depot and Cartridge World.
Batteries & CFLs
Up until recently you couldn't recycle batteries or CFLs at all in South Africa. However, Uniross provide battery recycling boxes in Pick n Pay stores nationwide for rechargeable batteries NOT normal batteries - a huge incentive to buy rechargeables if you're not already. You can also recycle rechargeable batteries at Macro stores. And Philips have teamed up with Pick n Pay to facilitate the collection of CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) in their stores countrywide. Philips have a recycling plant going up in Lesotho.
Buy recycled goods
If you want to support recycling, then the cycle doesn't end with recycling. One can also support recycled products - innovative individuals, community projects and NGOs are using recycling content in everything from lampshades to bags, such as Waste at Work and Heath Nash , the designer.
Compost your waste
This is one of the simplest ways of recycling. Your garden cuttings and your kitchen scraps can all go onto the compost heap. If you don't have a garden, find someone who does or donate your scraps to a local community garden. Read all about it and worm bins in our green your garden.
Recycle your water
Re-using your water isn't necessarily about having an expensive grey-water system installed. You could rearrange your plumbing (it's probably better to get someone else to do it) so that wastewater or rainwater is used to flush your loo. For more on recycling your water, see our green your water guide.
Recycle your oil
The ROSE Foundation manages the environmentally acceptable collection, storage and recycling of used lubricating oil in South Africa.