Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)plastic recycling company (PETCO) is, between July and December this year, undertaking a marketing campaign to emphasise the true value of PET bottles, says CEO Cheri Scholtz.
“The campaign is themed ‘Waste is not waste until it is wasted’. If we can get consumers to understand that our bottles are not trash and participate in recycling, then we will have made good progress,” she notes.
This is one of several projects being initiated by the company to raise awareness and educate the public and consumers about recycling and includes beach recycling clean-ups, trade shows, bulk bag collection and training initiatives, which are supported by the Plastics Federation of South Africa.
PETCO highlights that recycling 1 t of PET bottles saves 1.5 t of carbon, reduces the need for raw materials and saves energy. Recycling a single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60 W light bulb for up to six hours.
The company is working with the Department of Environ-mental Affairs to reach the waste collection targets set for 2015.
The aim is for the public and private sectors to put cost-effective waste separation-at-source strategies in place, to implement kerbside collection widely, to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover plastics more efficiently than is currently done and to prevent plastics from going to landfill sites.
“Low recycling rates negatively affect the ability to supply markets and will not encourage new projects. “PETCO is a member of the Recovery Action Group, which represents the packaging waste stream. “This group has put together a draft industry paper and packaging waste management plan to improve the collection of recycla- bles from the municipal solid waste stream prior to landfill,” says Scholtz.
The South African PET recycling sector is fortunate in that almost all the postconsumer PET bottles collected are recycled into bottle-to-fibre-grade PET and not exported to China, as is done by many other countries.
This means that, as more post-consumer PET bottles are collected, end-use markets expand and develop.
The largest end-use market for postconsumer PET bottles in South Africa is currently the fibre market or the bottle-to- fibre market.
Installed capacity to recycle postconsumer PET bottles to food-grade containers was recently created; however, take-up for this resin is still relatively slow.
PETCO is working with retailers and brand owners to increase demand for PET recyclate.
Further, the company has also, in collaboration with retailers Woolworths and Pick n Pay, established the Retailers for Recycling forum to work towards reducing the environmental impact of postconsumer packaging on the South African landscape, by creating awareness of recycling issues.
The forum also provides support for retailers, as they work with their own suppliers to ensure that packaging is designed with a focus on the principles of reduction, reuse and recycling.
PETCO hopes more retailers will join the forum in future.