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The Three R's of the environment:
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

WHATSince the 1st August 2009, we have encouraged all residents to participate in our recycling initiative.

WHYBesides being the 'right thing to do' to save our environment and planet, it will save us money. Approximately sixty five percent of the average rubbish bag could be recycled or composted, this means we could potentially reduce our bill from Mogale City for refuse removal to thirty five percent of the current bill.

HOWWe will be keeping containers in the refuse yard for plastics, glass and cans. We hope to be able to handle paper in the near future. Residents will be required to separate recyclables into the same groups (plastics, glass and cans) and place them in separate containers (bags or boxes) for collection, alternating pickup days with your normal refuse. This will enable us to quickly and easily categorise refuse once they get to the refuse yard.

WHENMondays: Normal Refuse and Recycling - to assist with the Recycling pickup, which is plastics, glass and cans, please ensure containers are marked as such if contents are not obvious.

TIPSBelow are some ideas that we have picked up over the last year or two that may work for you:

  • Have four storage bins (marked plastics, glass, cans and glass) in the courtyard (with lids to keep the flies away) and separate immediately. This means you don't have to do it on refuse day.
  • Rinse containers that would attract insects or become smelly before putting them into the bins (milk/juice bottles, tomato cans and the like).
  • Squash the plastic containers and replace the lids - they'll take up less space in the bin.
  • Most plastic containers these days are recyclable and typically have a symbol marked PET or similar.
  • The ratio of one type to the other will vary depending on your consumption habits. (for example, we have ended up with a 4:1 ratio of plastics to other recyclables).

We hope that all residents will pitch in and participate not just to save costs for all of us but because it is the right thing to do, and once legislation is passed, we will already be ahead of the game.

So join the club and practice the three R's of the environment: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

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:

  • Recycling one aluminium can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours
  • An aluminium can that is thrown away will still be a can 500 years from now
  • Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees
  • 70% less energy is required to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials
  • Plastic bags and other plastic rubbish thrown into the ocean kill as many as a million sea creatures every year
  • The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials 

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 []

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 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.