How ordinary citizens and businesses can help waste paper shortages this holiday season
JOHANNESBURG, December 15 2021 – Separate your recyclables from your rubbish. That’s the message from RecyclePaperZA, whether you’re home or away this festive season.
The paper recycling arm of the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) also urges resorts, hotels and guest houses to make it easier for guests to separate their waste.
On average, 1.1 million tonnes of waste paper are recovered in South Africa annually, with more than 90% of this being locally recycled into new paper, packaging, and tissue. Despite this, the South African paper recycling industry faces a shortage of various grades of waste paper due to traders favouring the export market and supply chain disruptions caused by Covid-19 restrictions.
“Old cardboard boxes and paper bags such as the ones used for online shopping and grocery deliveries are widely used by the paper recycling industry to make new boxes and bags,” explains Jane Molony, PAMSA executive director. Used office paper is used to make toilet tissue and newspapers go into the manufacture of egg cartons.
Demand exceeding supply
Covid-19 has disrupted supply chains and the use, demand, and recovery of paper products.
“With offices and schools remaining closed or on rotation during 2020 and early 2021, there was less paper and paper packaging to collect,” says Molony. She adds that there is also a rising demand for paper packaging with the move to online shopping and more environmentally responsible forms of packaging.
Be green this festive season
Molony appeals to all households and holidaymakers, hotels, resorts and businesses to separate their paper and paper packaging from general waste.
“Households can leave recyclable items in a box or bag next to the bin for informal recycling collectors,” suggests Molony.
Used office paper, cereal boxes, brown cardboard boxes, and even egg boxes are just some of the paper items that collectors will take.
Paper recycling tips
- Have a separate bin, box or bag on hand for your paper recycling. This keeps it clean and dry
- Decide what you will do with your paper recycling – separate it for a waste collector or drop it at a recycling centre. Find a location here.
- Do not mix your paper with other recyclables
- Get to know what is recyclable and what is not.
OFFICE PAPER, MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS
- Clear out that stash
- Avoid crumpling paper into a ball – flat is best as it takes up less space in a waste collector’s trolley
- Remove plastic covers or binder spines before putting your paper in the recycling bag.
- This includes paper packaging for cereal, toothpaste, medicine and cosmetics without plastic laminates or excessive foil embellishments as well as egg cartons and paper cups.
- Flatten the hoard of cardboard boxes from your online shopping and place next to your bin on rubbish collection day. Waste collectors will be grateful!
- Recycle those paper grocery bags too.
- Avoid using foil-based gift wrap, as this is not recyclable. Opt for patterned paper gift wrap or brown kraft paper to package your gift.
- Foil gift wrapping and foil lined boxes
- Wax coated or laminated boxes such as frozen food boxes
- Empty cement and dog food bags
- Disposable nappies
- Carbon paper
- Sticky notes
- Did you know that 26 December – or Boxing Day – was traditionally reserved for clearing out unused or unwanted items? These items were given out to the less fortunate in boxes.
- The 1.1 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging recycled in South Africa in 2020 would, when baled:
- Stretch from Kempton Park to Cape Town if the bales were laid out end to end
- Fill 1 322 Olympic swimming pools
- Cover 200 soccer pitches, one bale deep.
PAMSA’s members have invested billions of rands into the recycling value chain and collectively employ around 16 300 people, while also supporting a thriving network of informal waste collectors and small recycling enterprises.