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Photo Credit: On File

The Glass Recycling Company has found that recycling in South Africa has become extremely successful thanks to seven contributing factors.


Recycling in South Africa is on the rise. More people are becoming aware of their impact on the environment and making changes to their lifestyles. Over the last few years, there has been a rise in glass recycling because individuals and businesses are taking action.

The Glass Recycling Company is taking it another step forward in 2018 by committing to help recycle the recorded 17 141 953 tons of waste, disposed into 120 landfills across all provinces.

The company reviewed the stats supplied by the Department of Environmental Affairs and drew up a list of factors that currently contribute to the recycling success in South Africa. They urge the public to continue recycling to reduce the amount of waste in landfills.

Below are the seven key factors that impact and may continue to make an impact on recycling successes in South Africa.

  1. South African Market Overview – Recycling

Currently, South Africa does not have punitive mandatory legislation in place which makes separation of recyclables at the source, (where recyclable material which includes glass, paper, metal and certain plastics is separated from the waste stream) in homes, offices, restaurants and bars.  Mandatory separation at source in SA will ensure greater recycling success in years to come.

  1. Entrepreneurship in Waste

In many developing countries like ours, an informal ‘collector market’ has evolved; this informal market has also developed in Brazil and India amongst other nations.  Recyclables are collected by individuals in order to generate a source of income. This includes individuals who both collectively or independently retrieve recyclables from home or business waste and sell these recyclables to buy back centres. These are community-based multi-recycling centres that buy recyclable waste such as paper, plastic, cans and glass from collectors and then sell it on to packaging manufacturers.

Based on independent research approximately 50 000 South Africans earn an informal source of income from collecting waste glass and selling this valuable packaging to entrepreneurial buy-back centres.

  1. South Africa’s Returnable Bottle System – a global leader

South Africa has one of the most efficient returnable bottle systems in the world spearheaded by our beer, wine and spirit manufacturers. These returnable glass bottles are sent back to the beverage manufacturers to be sterilised, inspected and refilled, making each glass bottle achieve numerous trips. Returnable bottles include large beer bottles such as beer quart bottles, glass soft drink bottles and many commonly used spirit and liquor bottles.

Current studies show that several mature economies are experiencing a decline in the use of returnable bottles, the perceived inconvenience of returnable bottles is cited as the main reason for the current downturn, however many South Africa n’s often preferred returnable bottles.

  1. Closed-loop glass recycling

A carbon-friendly trend is closed-loop recycling. Glass, for example, fully meets the formal definition of a Closed Loop System, i.e. bottle-to-bottle recycling – whereby material is recycled into the same product (i.e. a bottle becomes a new bottle or jar). As glass can be infinitely recycled without ever losing its clarity or purity, bottles and jars manufactured in South Africa contain at least 40% recycled glass.

Recycling glass has huge environmental benefits; it saves landfill space, saves raw materials, lessens demand for energy, and reduces CO2 emissions.

As a result, the maximum environmental benefits are achieved in South Africa. While in the UK less than one-third of the glass recycled is used to manufacture new containers and the full impact of the environmental benefits from bottle-to-bottle recycling are not realised. Recycling glass also helps to minimise additional negative environmental impacts.

  1. Extended Producer Responsibility

Manufacturers are certainly assisting in diverting waste from landfill. Consol Glass and Nampak Glass have both invested significantly in the development of high-level cullet processing plants; these include the presence of advanced technology meaning that consumers do not need to sort glass into its three primary colours (brown, green or clear) as this is done at the processing plants by means of optical sorting. This indicates their commitment to making recycling simple in order to encourage recycling in South Africa.

  1. Green Education

With the future of our country in the hands of our youth, it is vital to build enthusiasm amongst the youth regarding recycling and green behaviours. We need to encourage young consumers to ‘recover, reuse and recycle’. Many brands are trying to encourage this, however, there is certainly space to do more. Recycling brands often run campaigns and competitions to encourage recycling in schools.  The Glass Recycling Company (TGRC) hosts annual school competitions to motivate collection of high quantities of glass and more importantly to inculcate recycling behaviour from a young age.

  1. More recycling spots

As South Africans are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and responsible, the demand for recycling points has increased. TGRC now has more than 4 000 glass banks located nationally which makes it easier for the public to recycle their glass.

Members of the public who wish to find a glass bank can do so on TGRC’s website

Sources: Supplied 
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.


  1. Hi Tyler,

    Thank you for the great article! With World Environmental Day around the corner I have been looking at monetisation of plastics in South Africa. An article from Forbes said that the Plastic Bank offers a revolutionary system in “developing” countries such as South Africa for communities to profit from plastic collections by using blockchain technology. The co-founders have a few videos explaining it on Youtube. I searched, but could not find anything showing that they truly have set up shop in SA yet.

    Do you maybe have any information on that? Maybe you could write a piece? I would love to see something like that happen here in SA! ☺

    Many thanks and regards,

  2. I like start selling bottle glass for recycling to your Company, please help me to get your Vendor number.

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