Plastic products and packaging are oil derivatives. The old joke that we will be `mining’ our waste sites for recyclable plastics is fast turning into a reality. The cost of the oil derived resins that plastic products are made of is increasing, making the recycling of plastic more competitive. In addition, the cost of and decreasing availability of water in the production process is a significant factor. The cost of the electricity required to produce new products is also a significant factor. We have all felt the pinch of escalating electricity costs. At the same time we should be embarrassed by the huge carbon footprint of our electricity production in South Africa.
If the oil, water and energy factors are so significant, why do we still see so much plastic packaging in landfill, and our wetlands, beaches and parks so full of plastic bottles? A key part of the answer is the cost of collecting and separating the different types of plastic that are dispersed throughout our homes and businesses and the environment. The Plastic Packaging industry has introduced a Plastic Codes system so that it is easier to identify and separate recyclable plastics.
Click here to find out about the Plastic Recycling Codes. Numbers 1, 2, 4 & 5 are currently recyclable. There is not longer any reason to say: “ I don’t know what Plastics are Recyclable!!” Be Cool for the Earth (and so your Kids inherit a Cool Earth) and take a few minutes a day to help save our water, reduce our carbon footprint and use resources efficiently.
Note that a present the market for Recyclable Plastics does vary. At the moment, there is a high and apparently growing demand for PET or Number 1 Plastic. Although Number 6 Plastic (hard and soft polystyrene ) can be recycled into highly sought after products, the capacity in South Africa to recycle the volumes of Polystyrene Packaging that is discarded is still limited. This is likely to change. See the list of recyclers in the Scenic South Peninsula on http://scenicsouth.co.za//environment/recyclers-re-users/ . They currently take Number 1,2, 4 and 5 recyclable plastic. If you know where to take difficult recyclable Plastic in Cape Town, Number 3 and 6 please share your knowledge with us.