It’s Clean-Up Week and time to ask ourselves if we are doing our bit to preserve the environment and make sure as little refuse as possible goes into our strained landfill sites.

According to a 2016 World Bank report SA produces 54 425 tonnes of refuse daily, the 15th highest rate in the world. This is expected to increase to 72 146 tonnes per day by 2025.

In 2012, the total paper recovered in SA was enough to fill 1 380 Olympic-sized swimming pools and this amount is rapidly growing.

Citizens should be concerned about what happens to their waste and the consequences it has for the environment and people who inhabit it

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Interestingly, paper can be recycled at least seven times, and paper recycling can also save up to 3m³ of landfill space per tonne, which has the knock-on benefit of reducing transport and disposal costs for local municipalities.

Recycling affords over 100 000 people the opportunity to earn an income and support their families

Mpact Recycling Gauteng regional manager, Alan De Haas says when South Africans embrace recycling, they help reduce pollution and contribute towards a healthier, greener and cleaner society for themselves and future generations. “Not only this, recycling affords over 100 000 people the opportunity to earn an income and support their families. In addition, schools and other community organisations can raise money by recycling.”

Recycling is easy and requires very little effort

It simply involves separating recyclables at home into separate designated containers for paper, plastic, glass and cans. The recyclables can be dropped off at a local school, community centre or buy-back centre.

It is important to know what can and cannot be recycled

It is also vital to know what to do with items for recycling, such as flattening boxes and rinsing plastic containers, as well as leaving the items to be collected in the right spot for pick-up if you have a kerbside collection programme running in your area.

“We all need to start seeing refuse as a resource that can be used in ways that can drive the economy – making a real and remarkable difference for the environment, rather than something that should just be discarded”

De Haas urges people who live in neighbourhoods where Ronnie Bags are collected on a weekly basis to put all recyclable paper packaging, boxes, milk and juice cartons into the bags and leave them on their kerbs to be collected on the designated day. In this way you will substantially reduce the amount of waste going into your rubbish bin every week.

South Africans need to view their refuse in a different way

“We all need to start seeing refuse as a resource that can be used in ways that can drive the economy – making a real and remarkable difference for the environment, rather than something that should just be discarded,” concludes De Haas.