To celebrate Global Recycling Day on Friday 18th March, the Fibre Circle has joined forces with two local packaging companies to empower 200 informal collectors with important info about paper and packaging recycling.
Fibre Circle, the producer responsibility organisation for the paper sector, has teamed up with food service and packaging producer Detpak and Remade Recycling (part of the Mpact Group) to show 200 recycling collectors that paper grocery bags and brown take-away food bags can be collected from households and sold with their waste paper collections.
The circular waste economy is a thriving network of collectors, buyers and processors, which uses recyclable material such as waste paper to make new products. Every year, more than 1.1 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging are recovered in South Africa and recycled into new products which can be recycled again and again, in many cases up to 25 times.
Paper recycling is largely based on different grades of paper. In industry speak cardboard boxes are termed ‘K4’ while used white office paper is termed ‘HL1’ (heavy letter 1). Cereal boxes, egg cartons and other similar paper items are deemed common mixed waste, or ‘CMW’.
The average consumer only needs to know whether something is recyclable or not, whereas waste collectors who sell to buy-back centres need to know exactly what they are selling and how much it is worth. It is important for the respective grades to be separated and baled together as they form the ingredients for the paper products they will be used to produce.
“Old cardboard boxes and paper bags will be re-pulped into other paper types – these will become new cardboard boxes and paper bags, and so the cycle continues,” explains Fibre Circle communications manager Samantha Choles.
Used white paper is recycled into tissue products such as toilet paper while several paper grades are recycled into common household packaging such as matchboxes, tooth paste boxes and cereal boxes.
“With paper bags now synonymous with suburban and city-based grocery deliveries after Covid kept many of us away from supermarkets, Detpak and its customers felt that it was important to close the loop with the production and recycling of paper bags,” explains Carla Breytenbach, marketing manager for Detpak.
In the run-up to World Recycling Day groups of informal waste collectors were invited to a discussion and demonstration by Anele Sololo, manager for education and SMME development at Fibre Circle, at Remade Recycling’s Midrand branch. Each collector received a pie and soft drink, along with a paper goodie bag containing a reflective T-shirt, sun hat, safety gloves, fresh fruit and a box of Smarties (in a recyclable paper box).
“Safety and visibility is a key aspect in the lives of collectors who navigate the busy streets of our suburbs daily making an honest living,” notes Donna-Mari Noble, communications manager for the Mpact Group’s Recycling business.
Consumers are encouraged to put recyclables such as cardboard boxes, pizza boxes, grocery bags and other similar packaging on the pavement for recycling collectors.
For more information on what paper and packaging materials are recyclable, visit https://fibrecircle.co.za/promotional-material/
Other everyday materials that can be recycled include:-
Wood - Wood is renowned for being one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable materials available due to the ability of growing trees to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the wood, which can be recycled countless times. Take care, however, to ensure that the wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests in the first place, which can be verified by an FSC or PEFC label.
Glass - Glass is infinitely recyclable. Made from all-natural sources such as sand, soda ash and limestone, glass never loses its purity, regardless of how many times it enters the recycling chain. The cost savings of recycling glass lies in the use of energy. Broken or waste glass melts at a lower temperature compared to making glass from raw materials for the first time. It also reduces air and water pollution in the manufacturing process.
Plastic - This material takes up to 450 years to decompose in a landfill. Plastic straws alone take up to 200 years to break down. The reason behind its slow degradation is that the materials used to produce plastic do not exist naturally. However plastic can be recycled, and may in future be used in the building sector. Plastic is strong, durable, waterproof, lightweight, easy to mould, and recyclable – all key properties for use as a construction material.
Metals - Almost all metals are recyclable with the process not impacting the material’s properties. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, steel is the most recycled material on the planet. Other highly recyclable metals include aluminium, copper, silver, brass and gold.