South Africa’s plastics recycling rate, is showing an increase of 6,7%. This increase was applauded by the South African National Bottled Water Association (SANBWA). The increase is owing to growing awareness to recycle. The latest stats were released on Thursday (29/08).According to Charlotte Metcalf, SANBWA executive director, more than 519 370 tons of plastic waste were collected for recycling, 6,7% more than in 2018. “According to Plastics SA, this 519 370 tons of plastic waste is equivalent to 46,3% of the plastic waste produced in 2018 in South Africa, making the country one of the best mechanical recyclers in the world.“The environmental impact of this recycling is that it saved enough oil to fuel 200 000 cars travelling 30 000 km/annum for one year and saved 246 000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the equivalent emissions of 51 200 cars. “Equally impressive are the socio-economic benefits,” said Metcalf.Metcalf said the plastics recycling industry provided direct employment for more than 7 800 people and created a further 58 500 income-generating jobs, Metcalf said R2.3 billion was injected into the informal sector through the purchasing of recyclable plastics waste.The bottled water industry in SA is a small user of plastic, most of it polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The Body Mass Index (BMI) report puts the size of the industry at only 10% of total non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages. By extrapolation, the bottled water industry therefore uses only 10% of the total number plastic bottles used by the total non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverage market.“Design-for-recycling is a vital consideration, because an ill-conceived but well-meaning design can alter the bottle’s recycling status”, Metcalf said. “For example, bottles with designs printed directly on to the plastic, cannot be recycled. “They may look good and you may think that doing so removes the label from the chain, but the recyclers’ equipment cannot process the bottles because the ink ‘pollutes’ the recycling chain,” said Metcalf.