Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling company Petco expects voluntary PET recycling volumes in South Africa to grow to 70% within the next three to four years, Petco chairperson Dr Casper Durandt said on Tuesday.
South African bottlers, who are voluntary members of Petco, are increasingly assisting with the drive to improve recycling rates, Petco noted, which had led to the annual PET plastic bottle recycling rate having increased to 65% of all bottles produced in the country in 2017, up from 55% in 2016, putting the country on par with international standards.
While it remains to be seen what impact China’s ban on a number of waste streams will have on South Africa, Durandt highlighted that the growth in voluntary PET recycling locally is owing to the country’s unique model where almost all of the collected bottles have been recycled, which he says should shield South Africa from the effect of the ban.
Durandt, who is also the technical head for Coca-Cola’s South African franchise, also believes the ban in China will stimulate the creation of local solutions.
Waste generation in Africa is expected to more than double by 2025.
“Three years ago, we crossed over the 50% [PET recycling] line, and while we’re doing really well, we know there’s a lot of material that is still going into the waste stream,” he added, noting that the 65% mark has the potential to grow through efficient and effective bottle recovery in small towns across South Africa.
This is currently hindered by logistics and the cost of bringing the bottles back to a more urbanised area for further processing.
Other countries have, however, managed to reach between the 80% and 90% recycling mark, which Durandt said is only possible owing to legislative instruments that are “usually punitive and unproductive in terms of productivity and value creation”.