Are you going to recycle that? It is National Recycling Day 2019

It is National Recycling Day on Friday. Picture: iStock/Gallo Images
It is National Recycling Day on Friday. Picture: iStock/Gallo Images

It is today: National Recycling Day!

There’s no time like today - start a movement. Look around your home, office, school, and neighbourhood, interrogate your waste and ask everyone: #AreYouGoingToRecycleThat.

Interrogate your waste:

1. Before you throw something away, #InterrogateYourWaste ‘think before you bin’, and ask yourself #AreYouGoingToRecycleThat.

2. If you realise you can recycle an item of waste, please #SeparateAtSource.

3. Rinse out and flatten your recyclable material, and then place it in your multi-recycling bin.

To find out how recycling works in your area: visit, or your community’s social media pages.

The power of our collective waste to add jobs to the economy and keep our neighbourhoods and green spaces clean is clear in this pile of baled paper waste.

Mpact Recycling’s 8 big waste figures: the good news

Mpact Recycling, South Africa’s leading recycler, is urging everyone to join the movement to support the circular economy, which refers to an ideal process whereby recyclable waste items are re-used or recycled into something new.

Here’s how their business is supporting our communities – and saving all-important landfill space:

1. In 2018, Mpact Recycling collected more than 630 000 tonnes of paper, plastic, glass and cans (recyclables).

2. Every tonne of recovered paper saves 3m3 of landfill space. Over the past 10 years, more than 11.3 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging have been recovered for recycling in South Africa. If baled, this amount would cover the surface of 2 055 soccer fields, one metre deep.

3. South Africa is ahead of international standards and is currently a recycling world leader. South Africa’s paper recovery rate is well above the global average of 59.3% (ICFPA, 2019 Sustainability Progress Report), sitting at 70% in 2018 according to RecyclePaperZA

4. 1900 Mpact paper banks are at schools & communities countrywide.

5. 150 000 households within cities of Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Johannesburg are supported by Mpact programmes.

6. More than 534 159 school children have been reached since the 2013 relaunch of Mpact Recycling’s ‘Ronnie Recycler’ schools programme.

7. Mpact has invested R150 million in recycling infrastructure since 2014.

8. Mpact Recycling’s liquid packaging recycling plant can recycle 24 000 tonnes of used liquid cartons (such as milk, juice or custard boxes) a year, saving 65 240m3 of landfill space and about 11 400 tonnes of carbon emissions.

Unearthing income: The economics of recycling

It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to our waste – so long as we recycle it.

Incredibly, according to the CSIR, recycling contributes R8.2 billion worth of resources into SA’s economy every year. The CSIR estimates that the recycling industry provides economic opportunities to between 60 000 and 90 000 waste pickers. Mpact Recycling, has over 45 buy-back centres in Gauteng which alone support 1000 waste pickers.

Mpact Recycling is encouraging more South Africans to think before they throw all their waste into one dustbin. Not only does recycling impact economic upliftment within the circular economy (which refers to an ideal process whereby recyclable waste items are re-used or recycled into something new), it is also a crucial way of saving landfill space.

Consider this – according to the department of environmental affairs, there are 826 landfill sites in South Africa. Of the six landfill sites in Gauteng, four have less than five years of capacity left.

Also, our municipalities have to pay for every tonne of waste that goes into the landfill. Imagine what else that money could be used for, all the while providing economic opportunities for entrepreneurs in the industry.

Your read on the daily commute or your leisurely Sunday catchup finds its way back into the economy if you recycle it properly and next time it might come back into your home as a cereal box or the box your online purchase arrives in.

Do you know… the recycling lingo?

According to RecyclePaperZA, the paper recycling arm of Pamsa, 1.29 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging was diverted from landfills in 2018. However, according to Plastics SA, about 70% of the plastic that was recycled in South Africa had to first be sorted from a landfill in 2018. This illustrates that it is far better for waste to be sorted at the source, your home. Here’s the lingo to help put you in the know:

Separate at source: This refers to the separation of recyclable materials from general waste, at home or the office. Separating at source is the best way to divert waste from landfills and is the first step in the recycling journey.

Multi-recycling: This means separating your recyclables from your general waste and grouping certain types of recyclables together. It’s as easy as grouping glass, plastic and cans together in one bag. It’s best to keep your paper and cardboard recyclables separate so that any residual liquid doesn’t contaminate your paper waste.

Reclaimers: Also known as informal waste collectors, kerbside collectors and informal pickers. These are informal entrepreneurs who collect valuable recyclables from landfills, municipal dustbins and refuse bags along pavements. They are a valuable asset in the circular economy.

The circular economy: This refers to an ideal process whereby recyclable waste items are re-used or recycled into something new, in an effort to divert all valuable recyclable materials from the landfills.

Day 4: It’s so easy to join the movement, here’s how to do it today

South Africa’s recycling infrastructure has developed to make it as easy as possible to #SeparateAtSource, as certain recyclable materials can be grouped together. This multi-recycling simply means separating all your recyclables from your general waste. In fact, all your paper-based recyclables can go in one bag, making recycling accessible and easy. So, before you throw away your cereal boxes, milk and juice cartons, toilet rolls, cardboard, newspapers or magazines, interrogate your waste and ask yourself #AreYouGoingToRecycleThat.

The balance of your recyclables such as glass, plastic and cans can be placed in a separate bag, purely because they often carry liquid which can contaminate paper and cardboard.

How recycling is collected differs from community to community. There might be a formal recycling collector such as the Mpact Recycling kerbside programme, kerbside collectors who service particular residential areas, or local community collection points (such as the Ronnie Recycler programme) offered at schools, retirement villages or community centres.

Understanding the ways recycling works in your community, and the significant implications of not recycling, is a great way to start making your own positive impact on the volume of waste on South African landfills.

If you neighbourhood isn’t serviced by a collection route, find out if there’s a central place nearby to drop your waste or sort it for your local waste picker.

Here’s a list of what you can and can’t recycle:


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