Do Your Part On National Recycling Day
In what's become an international buzzword over the last decade, the call to recycle has gained momentum across the globe. Statistics though show that South Africa is still far behind our Northern Hemisphere counterparts in the efforts to go greener.
According to the Paper Recycling Association of South Africa, a paltry 5% of South African households recycle paper.
Experts in the field believe that South Africa's low numbers range from a variety of factors, including a lack of convenience for consumers to recycle, with no nationally structured measures implemented for the task as yet.
But Ursula Hensbury of PRASA believes recycling can become one of the easiest things you can do in our shared responsibility to keep our planet cleaner and healthier.
"It may take a little bit of effort at first but once you have a simple system in place at your home or office, it becomes second nature as opposed to another laborious chore," Hensbury said.
"There is also a common notion that discarding recyclables among your household waste allows waste pickers on rubbish dumps to earn more money.
"In the case of paper, this could not be further from the truth. By the time recyclable paper gets to a landfill site it could be too contaminated to be of any value to the waste picker," she continued.
Processes are currently in the works between government and the Recycling Action Group to introduce a two-bag recycling system for homes across the country.
But there are still many, many things we as consumers can do today, right now to help in the fight to improve our environment.
Here are some easy tips to kick-start our contributions toward saving the planet:
* Start small - by recycling paper, of course. Many areas have kerbside and townhouse collection programmes. Make use of these.
* Do a little bit of research to find out where you can drop off your recyclables - at your local shopping centre, your children’s school or a community or religious centre that is en route to or from work. Ask friends for recommendations or visit www.mywaste.co.za for details of your closest drop-off points.
* If you see a recycling collector rummaging through your refuse bags on a weekly basis, why not agree to keep your recyclables separate for him or her? This increases the quality of the recyclables and the collector could earn a little more for better quality.
* Know your recyclables - look out for the triangular symbol on your packaging. Not all paper can be recycled.
* Paper products that are recyclable: magazines (including the glossy variety); newspapers; brochures; office paper; shredded paper; cardboard; liquid board packaging including milk, juice and food cartons (Tetrapak).
* The following paper-based items are not recyclable: wet, soiled paper such as used paper plates, disposable nappies, tissues and toilet paper; foil gift wrapping, carbon paper and sticky notes; wax-coated, foil-lined or laminated boxes; used cement and dog food bags.
* Invest in colour-coded containers - one each for paper, glass, plastic and tin, and keep them in your kitchen if you have the space. (Colour-coding also makes it easier for younger members of the family!) Empty them regularly into larger bags or containers.
* Don’t let the recycling pile get too big before you drop it off - keep a box/crate in your boot so you can do a weekly drop-off when you do your shopping or other errands.
* Get the older children involved. If you have more than one child, make them each responsible for a recyclable.
* Keep your paper clean and dry.
* Rinse tins, glass and plastic items.
* Always keep in mind that you are recycling for a good reason - the future of our planet. This should be motivation enough to keep you going!
Brought to you by the Paper Recycling Association of South Africa.
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