Plastic pollution - one of world’s greatest threats

2018-06-14 06:02
Glinise Howard (Uitenhage Recycling Mula Swop-shop Project), Belinda Booker (PETCO), Cheri Scholtz (PETCO CEO) and Quinette Goosen (Uitenhage Recycling Mula Swop-shop Project).Photo:GULSHAN KHAN

Glinise Howard (Uitenhage Recycling Mula Swop-shop Project), Belinda Booker (PETCO), Cheri Scholtz (PETCO CEO) and Quinette Goosen (Uitenhage Recycling Mula Swop-shop Project).Photo:GULSHAN KHAN

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PET Recycling Company CEO Cheri Scholtz said South African PET recycling figures are on par with global standards and that the organisation had set an ambitious recycling target of 70% by 2020.

PET, which stands for polyethylene terephthalate, is a form of polyester. It is extruded or moulded into plastic bottles and containers for packaging foods and beverages, personal care products, and many other consumer products.

Even more significant, said Scholtz, was that approximately 96% of all PET bottles recovered in South Africa were reprocessed locally into new end-use products.

Environmental scientist Dr Tony Ribbink said the main problem with regard to plastic pollution was the lack of “real measurable data” to get an accurate picture of “one of the world’s greatest threats”.

He pointed to the example of Port Elizabeth, which is blazing a trail in the fight against plastic pollution. If it continues in this vein, it could be the cleanest city in South Africa by 2021, he said.

The city is under scrutiny as a South African plastic pollution case study, with drones and planes being used to capture representative data.

“People are being mobilised in a number of ways including using mobile apps to monitor on the ground where the major pollution problems are, not just on beaches and estuaries but also where people, live, work and play,” he said.

So strong is this movement that a R60-million plastic waste scientific research and community empowerment initiative, the first of its kind, Africa Waste Academy is planned for the city within the next five years. - REPORTER

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