Mpact recycling operations in Tulisa Park, southeast of Johannesburg. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mpact recycling operations in Tulisa Park, southeast of Johannesburg. Picture: SUPPLIED

More than 80% of waste that could be recycled ends up in landfill sites, but SA is improving, packaging group Mpact says.

"The environmental impact of recycling is enormous. According to the Department of Environmental Affairs’s South African Waste Information Centre, more than 19.2-million tonnes of general waste and one-million tonnes of hazardous waste went to SA’s 133 landfill sites in 2017," Mpact Recycling MD John Hunt said in a media release on Friday.

"We are running out of landfill space in SA. In 2016, three landfill sites were closed in Pretoria. These are sites that were meant to have an additional lifespan of about 25 years".

According to the Paper Recycling Association of SA, the annual paper recovery rate has increased by 2% year-on-year since 2012 and is currently at 68.4%. PET Recycling Company (Petco) reports that plastic bottle recycled tonnage has increased more than nine-fold since 2005.

"These figures point to a growing awareness of recycling, but more importantly they show that South Africans are taking action and making a concerted effort to do the right thing," Mpact’s media release said.

Recycling also helps to address some of the country’s social ills such as unemployment and poverty.

"Recycling has helped create work opportunities for more than 100,000 people, according to the Paper Recycling Association," Hunt said.

Mpact Recycling collects about 630,000 tonnes per year of recovered paper and plastic. The paper goes to the Mpact Group’s paper mills for processing into recycled-based cartonboard and containerboard and the PET bottles go to its recycled PET plant, Mpact Polymers, for producing recycled PET bottles.