recycling day Clean Litter social media challenge

This National Recycling Day, mpact wants to teach South Africans all about the value of a circular economy and why recycling is so important in the long run.


South Africa – South Africans have heard the “please recycle” message time and time again. However, with National Recycling Day around the corner, it is a crucial opportunity for citizens to truly reflect on their waste habits and become more conscious of the impact of waste that is so often thrown away on a whim.

Leading up to National Recycling Day on 20 September 2019, leading South African recycler, Mpact Recycling is encouraging the country to start interrogating their waste by asking themselves #AreYouGoingToRecycleThat?

Every time a recyclable item of waste gets put into your general dustbin rather than being sorted for recycling, municipal transport costs to and from the landfill are incurred. However, when it comes to recycling, it is not all doom and gloom. In fact, South Africa’s paper recovery rate is well above the global average of 59.3% (ICFPA, 2019 Sustainability Progress Report).

Over the past ten years, more than 11.3 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging have been recovered for recycling locally. If baled, this amount would cover the surface of 2 055 soccer fields, one metre deep. On the plastic front, the recycling rates for PET bottles, for example, your fizzy drinks and water bottles, has improved over the years. South Africa currently recycles around 67% of all plastic PET bottles produced – up from 55% in 2016. South Africa is, therefore, ahead of international standards and is currently a recycling world-leader.

According to RecyclePaperZA, the paper recycling arm of PAMSA, 1.29 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging was diverted from landfills in 2018. However, according to Plastics SA, approximately 70% of the plastic that was recycled in South Africa had to first be sorted from a landfill in 2018. This illustrates that it is far better for waste to be sorted at the source, your home.

South Africa’s recycling infrastructure has developed to make it as easy as possible to separate at the source as certain recyclable materials can be grouped together. This is called “multi-recycling” and simply means separating all your recyclables from your general waste. In fact, all your paper-based recyclables can go in one clear refuse bag, making recycling accessible and easy.

So, before you throw away your cereal boxes, milk and juice cartons, toilet rolls, cardboard, newspapers or magazines, interrogate your waste and ask yourself “are you going to recycle that? The balance of your recyclables such as glass, plastic and cans can be placed in a separate bag, purely because they often carry liquid which can contaminate paper and cardboard.

“How recycling is collected differs from community to community. There might be a formal recycling collector, kerbside collectors who service particular residential areas, or local community collection points such as schools, retirement villages or shopping malls,” says John Hunt, Managing Director of Mpact Recycling.

Good recycling practices can also contribute to economic growth and job creation, and reduce social and environmental costs. This, in turn, positively impacts the circular economy, which refers to waste items being re-used or recycled, to be made into something new in an effort to eliminate waste reaching landfills. According to a 2015 report by the CSIR, just 10% of waste in South Africa was being recycled. Impressively, this small percentage still contributed R8.2 billion worth of resources into the South African economy. Today, the CSIR estimates that the recycling industry provides income opportunities for around 60 000 – 90 000 waste pickers alone.

“Understanding the ways recycling works in your community, and the significant implications of not recycling, is a great way to start making your own positive impact on the volume of waste on South African landfills,” says Hunt.

Big change can start with small actions, right in your home. Think about every piece of waste you throw into your dustbin and ask yourself #AreYouGoingToRecycleThat. Then, once you know how easy it is to #SeparateAtSource, you can find out how recycling collection works in your community.

Visit to see where their programmes run, or look at your community’s social media pages to find out what recycling initiatives are happening in your area.

Sources: Press Release – Supplied
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments or follow GoodThingsGuy on Facebook & Twitter to keep up to date with good news as it happens or share your good news with us by clicking here
Click the link below to listen to the Good Things Guy Podcast, with Brent Lindeque – South Africa’s very own Good Things Guy. He’s on a mission to change what the world pays attention to, and he truly believes that there’s good news all around us. In the Good Things Guy podcast, you’ll meet these everyday heroes & hear their incredible stories:
Or watch an episode of Good Things TV below, a show created to offer South Africans balance in a world with what feels like constant bad news. We’re here to remind you that there are still so many good things happening in South Africa & we’ll hopefully leave you feeling a little more proudly South African. 

Facebook Comments

Tyler Leigh Vivier
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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *