Where are the igloos?

2008-06-30 00:00

IN April last year, I wrote an article about some private recycling initiatives in and around Pietermaritzburg. Since then, recycling at St Mary’s Church has folded, glass banks have been removed from two shopping centres and members of the public keep asking where to recycle. They wonder why domestic recycling initiatives such as curb-side collections exist in other cities, but not ours. The articles on this page give answers to some of these questions. But they also raise new ones about the state of waste management in Pietermaritzburg.

The disappearance of bottle banks at Cascades Shopping Centre and Parklane SuperSpar was a simple mystery to solve. Parklane shop manager Mark Strang said the shop had asked waste management and recycling company Reclamation Group to remove the igloo because it was not being cleared often enough. Excess bottles dumped around the igloo took up valuable parking space and created an eyesore. A Cascades centre spokeswoman confirmed that the centre’s igloo had been removed, saying only it was a decision taken by the centre’s former manager.

A call to the local Reclamation branch established that there are now three of the company’s glass banks in the city (see box, right).

Reclamation commercial manager, Geoff Borrajeiro in Durban confirmed that glass is becoming a “major concern” for the company. Part of this concern is driven by fuel price hikes. “Unless bottle banks are within a five-kilometre round trip from our depot and they’re full, we’re losing money,” he said.

National contracts manager for the group, Clayton Forster, based in Johannesburg, said although Reclamation had closed its glass division in Johannesburg, the company is still committed to collection. Forster said new trucks and extra bottle banks have been ordered and he is optimistic that meetings with glass manufacturer Consol would produce favourable results.

For commercial waste collectors, glass is less attractive than other materials like metal. Glass waste currently trades at around R420 a ton. According to a local scrap dealer, prices paid for scrap metal start at R1 000 a ton for sub-grade metal, old car bodies, cold drink cans and the like, but go up to R60 000 a ton for good copper.

Production manager for city waste collectors Central Waste, Terence Lloyd-Ellis, said recently that he is sitting with 60 tons of glass from Howick alone and is worried about how to get rid of it. The problem is compounded by the fact that glass buyers, one of which is glass manufacturer Nampak, are in Gauteng. “I’ve got to sort it, crush it and transport it to Johannesburg. We just can’t make it work,” he said.

The industry’s response to the recycling challenge has been the recent creation of the Glass Recycling Company (GRC), a non-profit organisation which claims to have increased glass recovery by 24% in its first operating year.

Steffen Bulbring in Nampak’s glass division, Nampak Wiegand Glass in Johannesburg, said the GRC is also a response to anxiety in the industry around the possibility of “punitive” legislation which would make it a requirement that all bottles carry a deposit. “We’d rather get our own house in order,” he said.

Funded by industry players including Nampak, Consol, SA Breweries and Coca-Cola South Africa and endorsed by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the GRC doesn’t recycle glass but promotes its recovery. According to its website, it does this by placing glass banks at “strategic locations throughout the country” and by helping set up “new entrepreneurs” who buy waste glass from “thousands of unemployed individuals” and sell it on to glass manufacturers Consol and Nampak.

A total of 550 banks have apparently been placed around the country, but none of these are in Pietermaritzburg.

KZN GRC representative Ndyebo Mgingqizana said no igloos in the city doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. “We have private agents collecting glass and selling direct to Consul,” he said.

The placement of glass banks in Pietermaritzburg, he said, is at “a planning stage” and he is in the process of meeting with local companies with regard to them providing a collection service. Mgingqizana said local waste collectors Damol Lurie and Central Waste have turned him down.

“The market value of glass is fairly low compared with other materials such as metal, but we can still make it work,” he said. Mgingqizana said that anyone looking to get in touch with an agent could contact him (see box).

GRC general manager Shabeer Jhetam promised to raise the concerns expressed through The Witness at the meeting this month of the National Recycling Forum (NRF). “We can’t let Pietermaritzburg feel left out in the cold,” he said.

Where to recycle

Reclamation Group glass banks are available at:

• Foxon Road outside the OK Grocer in Hayfields;

• Liberty Liquors;

• Southgate Spar; and

• alternatively, drop bottles off at the local Reclamation branches.

• Central Waste in Ohrtmann Road will still accept glass from the public, although it is “desperate” for paper, plastic, metal and cardboard.

• New England Landfill site has facilities for glass and other waste.

• Contact Glass Recycling Company KZN representative Ndyebo Mgingqizana at 083 701 6265.

If you have any information about public recycling facilities, e-mail sharond@witness.co.za

Why recycle?

• One recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes (www.recyclingguide. org.uk).

• One recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for three hours (www.recycling


• Recycling reduces landfill requirements, thus increasing the life of landfill sites and cutting disposal costs (Petco — PET Plastic Recycling South Africa).

• Recycling one ton of plastic bottles can save 1,5 tons of carbon (Petco).

• About 550 000 tons of waste glass finds its way into landfills in South Africa (The Glass Recycling Company).

Glass in a landfill will never decompose.

• One ton of waste paper saves about 17 pine trees, 462 gallons of oil and reduces a landfill by about three square metres (Mbendi).

• Recycling a ton of PET (plastic) containers saves 6,7 cubic metres of landfill space (Petco).

Some interesting facts

• In 2005 recycling rates in the United States were at 32%, 27% in Britain and around 60% in Austria and the Netherlands (Economist).

• Industry figures in South Africa suggest that 45% of paper is recycled, 21% of glass, 67% of cans and 14% of plastic (Urban Sprout). Whether these figures include imported materials is not


• Nine out of 10 people would recycle more if it were made easier (www.recycling-guide.org.uk).

• Approximately 12% of household waste is packaging waste (Petco).

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.