International Plastics News for Asia

Sustainable recycling - the South Africa experience

In the latest issue of the International Plastics News - Middle East and Africa, we had the chance to talk to Ms. Cheri Scholtz, CEO of PET Recycling Company (Pty) Ltd or PETCO.

South Africa has one of the highest recycling rates in the world at 60% and the country's plastics industry is one of the most active endorsers of recycling in the high-growth industrial sector.  PETCO has been spearheading the drive towards recycling and PETCO represents South African plastic industry’s proven joint effort to self-regulate post-consumer PET recycling. PETCO is financed by a voluntary recycling levy paid by converters on PET resin purchased and also receives grants from brand owners and resin producers. This sustains collection interest and reduces the volume of post-consumer PET in the waste stream.

The organisation is also a member of the Global Alliance for Recycling and Sustainable Development (GARSD) - an alliance of countries that include Mexico, Thailand, Uruguay, Brazil and Colombia. GARSD promotes sustainable waste management in developing countries. Both platforms are important portals for the exchange of ideas, innovation and learning for South Africa. In fact, PETCO is joining EPRO in their first General Meeting to take place on African soil in Cape Town on 20 November this year. In order to maximise the opportunity to learn from each other's best practices with regards to waste management, recycling, the green economy and packaging initiatives, a global colloquium has been organised with leaders in the recycling and waste management industries, which will take place on 21 November 2013 in South Africa.

PETCO's operation is a learning experience to those in the plastics industry. In the eight years of its operations, it has gone from 9,840 to 50,274 tonnes of post-consumer PET bottles recycled or from 328 million bottles collected in the first year to over 1.6 billion bottles recycled in 2012. PETCO has helped to establish over 794 plastic recovery stations throughout South Africa.

PETCO has grown PET recycling targets from 16 to 45 percent of beverage PET recycled, from 87,000 to 166,000 tonnes of PET resin produced, from small to large amounts of recycling levies collected and 30 000 income opportunities created, from initial success to continued accomplishment in 2012 and strives to achieve more and reach a target of 50 percent of post consumer PET being recycled by 2015. This is a huge achievement and could be a good model to all other countries going into similar direction.

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PET Recycling Company (Pty) Ltd