•  Because of its convenience manufacturers and consumers use more and
    more plastic all the time.

•  Plastic waste, particularly beverage bottles, takes up excessive space in
    our landfills.

•  Although its development began in the 1800s, it was only in the 1950s
    that plastic began to grow into a major worldwide industry. Since the
    1970s plastic has become the most used material in the world.

•  As such plastic is a relatively new product and we have no real
    knowledge of how long it takes for plastic to decompose or degrade on a
    landfill. It is thought to take hundreds if not thousands of years.

•  Reusing your plastic bottles and containers can have a big impact on
    reducing the excessive volume of waste we create.

•  Refill your plastic water bottles instead of constantly buying new ones.

•  When you can't reuse it, then recycle it.

•  Recycling plastic saves energy and resources.

•  Recycling a single plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a 60W
    light bulb for four hours.

•  Avoid using plastic disposable cups. Use a real glass or cup instead.
    •  For example: Disposable cups used at a water cooler or drinks
        machine can create a pile of redundant plastic, that will just land up
        on a landfill. It was used for less than a minute but will spend lifetimes
        on a landfill.


•  Drinks bottles such as soft drinks bottles, water bottles, juice bottles and
    milk bottles
•  Food containers such as cooking oil bottles, yoghurt, cream, custard
    containers, margarine containers, ready prepared meal containers and
    peanut butter jars
•  cleaning agent container such as dish washing liquid bottles, dishwasher
    detergent bottles, detergent/fabric softener bottles and household
•  cosmetic or toiletry containers such as shampoo/conditioner, sunscreen,
    cleanser/toner/moisturiser, toothpaste, toothbrush and make up
    containers like lipstick and mascara
•  packaging such as plastic packaging, plastic bags, sandwich bags,
    cellophane and sweet packets
•  polystyrene cups, trays, food trays (eg. ready packed meat)
•  cords - appliance, computer, telephone and extension
•  bottle caps
•  plastic toys
•  seedling trays
•  blister packs

Not recyclable

•  cling wrap
•  tupperware
•  sticky tape
•  chip packets, chocolate wrappers etc are not plastic

Types of plastic

Although it is not crucial to be able to identify the different types of plastic (other than to know what is recyclable or not), being aware of the various types of plastics we use helps us to become more conscious of what we use.

Most containers are marked with the relevant plastic symbols.

Here is a list of the symbols and the types of products that are manufactured with a particular plastic.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)

•  PET bottles are strong and resilient.

•  The bottom of the bottles often have heavy ridges.

•  Because PET bottles have only 7% of the mass of glass bottles, it means
    they are cheaper to transport. Fuel and transport savings means less
    carbon emissions, which benefits our environment.

•  PET has largely replaced PVC.

•  PET is used to make
    •  Soft drink and water bottles
    •  Blister packs
    •  Wide neck jars e.g. for peanut butter
    •  Vending machine cups
    •  Oil bottles
    •  Dairy product containers
    •  Some household detergents containers

High density polyethylene (PE-HD)

•  These are generally coloured (including white) containers and not

•  PE-HD is used to make
    •  Packaging for strong products like methylated spirits, paraffin,
        bleaches, household detergents, fabric softeners and motor oils.
    •  Plastic crates. These should be reused over and over again!   
    •  Plastic buckets and basins.
    •  Black agricultural pipes, especially over 25mm in diameter.
    •  Paper-like handle carry (shopping) bags (know as vest-type carry
        bags (VCBs)

Poly(vinyl chloride) (PVC)

•  PVC is used to make
    •  Blood transfusion sets and medicine bottles
    •  Flooring and waterproof fabrics
    •  Artificial leather, the covers of dashboards and car door panels in the
        motor industry
    •  Bottles, clear trays for food and toiletries
    •  Cling film
    •  Chocolate trays
    •  Pipes and gutters, cable insulation, floors and walls, window frames,
        cladding in the building industry
    •  Boots, protective clothing and gloves.
    •  Shower curtains
    •  Hosepipes

Low density and linear low density polyethylene (PE-LD and PE-LLD)

•  PE-LD and PE-LLD makes up about 50% of the total quantity of recycled

•  PE-LD and PE-LLD is used in the manufacturing of
    •  Almost all thin packaging film used for fresh and frozen vegetable bags
    •  Wraps of disposable nappies
    •  Soft shopping bags
    •  Fertiliser bags
    •  Dry cleaners packaging
    •  Shrink- and stretchwrap films
    •  Black garbage bags
    •  Soft, squeezable bottles and containers e.g. cosmetic tubes
    •  Soft type of press-on caps or container closures
    •  Soft covers and soft containers
    •  Softer varieties of black agricultural pipe.

Polypropylene (PP)

•  PP is used in the manufacturing of
    •  Bottle caps for PET bottles
    •  Dispenser caps on containers
    •  Caps with snap-hinge closures
    •  Container like margarine, yoghurt packs and ice-cream tubs
    •  Plastic "crockery" like cups and plates
    •  Microwave oven containers
    •  Vehicle battery cases
    •  Plastic chairs
    •  Woven plastic sacks.

Polystyrene (PS)

•  Chrystal PS is used for the manufacturing of
    •  Food packaging like yoghurt tubs, vending cups, salad containers, egg
        trays, display boxes
    •  Display packaging like cosmetic containers, CD cases, cassette housings
    •  Pens and rulers.

•  High Impact Polystyrene is used for the manufacturing of
    •  Coat hangers
    •  Computers, printers and keyboards
    •  Television and radio housings,
    •  Refrigerator, freezer and cooler liners
    •  Toothbrush handles
    •  Telephone housings

•  Expandable Polystyrene is used for manufacturing
    •  Meat trays
    •  Fruit containers
    •  Vending cups
    •  Take-away containers
    •  Insulation for cooler boxes, cold rooms and refrigeration.
    • Protective packaging for corners for TVs and other electronic goods.

This is the identification that is used if a product is not one of the previous 6 types of plastic

•  ABS - Acrylonitrite Butadiene Styrene
    •  used for telephone handset, calculator housing, radio and TV casings,

•  PA - Polyamide/Nylon
    •  used for fishing gut, weed-eater cord, cable ties, small gears, castors,
        radiator end tanks and other engineering and automotive components.

•  PC - Polycarbonate
    •  used for business machine parts, camera components, electrical
        apparatus, tail-lights, baby bottles, traffic lights.

•  PMMA - Poly(methyl methacrylate)
    •  used for spectacles, lenses, safety lamps, reflectors, basins, trays,
        toys, signage.

•  POM - Polyacetal
    •  used for gear wheels, aerosol cans, cigarette lighters, gas cartridges.

•  PUR - Polyurethane
    •  used for fridge Insulators, steering wheels and dashboard padding,
        car bumpers, mattresses and foam rubber.

The Basics of Plastic Recycling

•  Plastic materials are collected and taken to a collection facility, where
    they are sorted according to the type and colour of plastic.

•  If they are to go to a different processing plant than their original
    collection point then the plastics is compressed and baled according to
    the type of plastic.

•  At the processing plant further sorting may be done.

•  The plastic is shredded into small pieces known as granules.

•  These granules are then washed to remove any packaging contents,
    dirt or labels.

•  Once they are dry the granules are conveyed into an extruder, where
    they are melted at a very high temperature. In what looks like a large
    mincer, the melt is churned out in continuous strings.

•  Water cools the strings and solidifies them.

•  They are then chopped up into pellets.

•  The pellets are bagged.

•  These are then sold to manufacturers to create new plastic products.


•  Electronic waste known as e-waste includes computer equipment,
    entertainment electronic and mobile phones. 

•  With the rapid changes in technology and our constant need to upgrade,
    e-waste is a growing global problem.

•  E-waste can be toxic to the environment and people if it is not discarded

•  The material that the products are made from can be recycled to get raw
    material that can be reused.

•  More information will be posted shortly.

•  Electronics can contain toxic lead and other heavy metals (cadmium,
    manganese, nickel, lithium, mercury) and chemicals like bromates and
    pthalates and plastic like PVC.

•  When e-waste breaks down either as litter or in improper landfills, the
    toxic mix can leak into surface and ground waters.

•  The material that the products are made from can be recycled to get raw
    material that can be reused, meaning less energy (and carbon emissions)
    is required in the manufacturing, mining and processing.

•  A number of garden refuse sites take e-waste.

•  When purchasing new electronic products see if the supplier will take your
    old products to dispose of responsibly.

    For more information contact

Ink Cartridges

•  Reduce landfill waste and the energy and materials needed to produce
    new cartridges by
    •  refilling your ink cartridges
    •  recycling them

•  Cartridges can be refilled with ink and used again.

•  You can purchase refill kits from stationers or technology stores.

•  There are also companies that refill cartridges.

•  More information will be posted shortly.

Think twice before throwing away your cartridges.

Motor oil

•  When you have your car serviced they change the oil. This used oil can
    be recycled.
    •  It can be reprocessed and sold as fuel for ships and industrial boilers.

  Select a vehicle service centre or workshop that recycles your used
    motor. Ask if they do before you book your car in.

•  If they don't either take your car elsewhere or ask why they don't.
    Suggest that they become a used-oil recycler.

•  If you change the oil yourself drop it at a garage or workshop that has
    an oil collection bin.

•  Some garden refuse sights have used motor oil collection bins.

Food Waste

Click here for information on Composting
Click here for information on Food Waste


•  See if a local welfare organisation, second hand store optometrist
    or eye-care centre has a need for your old frames.

•  Some Lions organisations have spectacle recycling programmes.

Clothes and Household Items

•  Local welfare organisations, children's homes, crθches often have a need
    for things you no longer need. They will either use it or sell it to raise

•  Contact your local Child Welfare, Hospice or any other welfare organisa-
    tion to give away good that someone else can benefit from.

•  Swop clothes with your friends.

Recycling At Home

Recycling at home is not difficult. It just takes a little thought and effort. And then it becomes a good habit.

•  Involve the whole family, including your domestic worker. Download our
Recycling Checklist and place it in the kitchen where everyone can see
    what to recycle.

•  Get separate containers, bins, buckets, boxes or garbage bags (which can
    be emptied and reused) for the different waste streams.

•  Make space for your recycling containers/bins.

•  Most people don't have space for all the bins/containers in the kitchen.

•  You could place them outside your backdoor or in your garage. Keep them
    covered, away from rain, and clean.


•  Separate your recyclable materials from your general waste.

•  Use separate bins, bags, boxes, packets or other containers for the
    different products.
    •  glass
    •  plastic
    •  cans (metal)
    •  paper 
    •  general waste (not for recycling) This can be your kitchen bin.

   If your bins/containers are outside or not easily accessible then it's handy
     to keep a container, bucket or bag for your recyclables next to your
     rubbish bin, which you can empty out into the separate containers on a
     regular basis (once a day or when it's full).

•  Avoid putting recyclables into general waste thinking you'll separate later.
    This will contaminate the recyclables. Separate them immediately.

•  To find out what can and cannot be recycled click on the products below

Food Waste for Compost

•  Rinse the glass, cans, and plastic containers from food or cleaning
    products before putting them into the recycling bin/s. Use as little water as
    possible or use water you've washed dishes in so you don't waste this
    resource. This will ensure that your recyclables don't starts to smell, and
    it decreases the contamination of the materials for recycling.

•  Squash plastic, tins and boxes prior to putting them in the relevant bin.
    Squashing means that less space is taken up, and more material can be
    transported in one go, lessening transport costs and emissions.

Drop Off

Some municipalities have recycling collection depots at some of their refuse centres, and there are a number of buy-back centres throughout the country.

•  Contact your local municipality to find out the closest depot to you, and
    then drop off your recycling at these centres.

•  Find out if local shopping centres, schools, community centres or places of
    worship have collection bins. Some may have bins as a means of
    fundraising and your waste can be of further assistance.

•  Wait until you have enough waste to maximise your journey and minimise
    your petrol costs.


The other option is to have a recycling company collect your recyclables.

  Unfortunately there are a limited number of companies who offer this
    service effectively and efficiently. But we will continue collecting this
    information and post it.

•  If you are using such a service successfully please send this information

•  If you provide such a service please let us know.

•  Most recycling collection companies charge a collection fee to cover their
    transport costs.

•  The need to manage our waste in a more accountable way is our
    responsibility if we want to take steps to protect and conserve our planet,
    so the cost is worth it.

•  If you pay the municipality for more than one refuse collection bin, by
   recycling you should be able to do away with any extra municipal bins
   (and extra cost). The amount you pay the recycler may then be offset -
    partially or totally.

•  If more people in your area recycle you may be able to negotiate a better

Informal Collectors

•  If you are not ready to set up a full programme, or do not plan on drop-
    ping off your recyclables at a drop off centre then at least separate your
    recyclables from your general waste and on refuse collection day put
    these out with your regular waste.

•  In many areas there are informal collectors who go through waste on
    refuse collection days. They take the recyclables and sell them on to
    recyclers, earning a livelihood.

•  This way you are making a difference and creating a work opportunity for
    someone as well as preventing recyclable materials from ending up on
    landfills. So assist them by separating your recyclables at source i.e
    where the waste is created.

•  Although this is not an idea scenario as not everything is collected and
    whatever isn't collected does go to a landfill, it is a starting point.


Ensure that everyone in your household, including your domestic worker, knows how the process works.

•  Download our Recycling Guide and place it in the kitchen where everyone
    can see what to recycle.

Another Option

•  Some collectors may allow you to put all your recycling in one container
    and then they separate for you.

•  Or you could ask someone to sort it at a drop off centre and give them a
    tip to do this for you.

•  In these cases you'd need three bins:
    •  General rubbish - regular kitchen bin
    •  Paper (you can use a box)
    •  Recyclables (glass, cans, plastic) - Remember to rinse first.

Become a Recycling Ambassador in your Community

•  Encourage others in your neighbourhood, complex or street to set up a
    recycling programme.

•  Spearhead the programme and get it going.

Living in a Complex

•  Set up bins that are clearly marked in the refuse area.

•  Provide information to all the units on what to do (what and how to
    separate and where the bins are).

•  If you don't have space in your unit for separate bins then reuse your
    shopping bags for the separate items and put it into the relevant bins on a
    regular basis.

•  See above for information on how to separate - wash & skwash!

•  Encourage your neighbours to be part of the programme.

•  If you can only get a few people to partake it's worth the effort.

•  Set up a schedule with those that are partaking and take turns in dropping
    off the recycling at a local depot.

•  Contract with a recycling company to collect your recyclables.

•  If enough waste is available for collection by a recycling company the
    transport costs may be reduced.

In spite of any costs, recycling programmes help protect our environment
and our planet!

We've created a Complex Recycling Kit which includes instructions and signage for your bins. If you'd like to purchase the Kit for R75 (PDF format you can print) to provide to all those participating, please mail

Take a step in the green direction - RECYCLE 

Recycling At School

Schools produce a substantial amount waste that can be recycled.

•  Waste such as white paper, work books magazines, newspapers,
    cardboard, cans, drink bottles, cleaning material containers, take away
    lunch containers, food containers, ink cartridges, computers and electro-
    nic equipment and batteries are some of the items in a school environ-
    ment that get thrown away and end their life and usefulness in a landfill.

•  Setting up a recycling programme is one of the steps to taking your school
    in the green direction.

•  A school recycling programme creates an awareness of our environmental
    responsibility and accountability.

•  It may also generate an income for your school, especially if you can get
    people to bring their recycling from home to increase the quantities. (It
    may take time.)

•  Also download The Bill of Responsibility from this website.

•  Remember that Recycling is one part of the Reduce Reuse Recycle
•  There is lots more that you can do in your school. But setting up a
    recycling project is a great starting point.

•  You can also create a litter awareness programme at your school. Visit
Litter Page

•  It may seem overwhelming to begin a recycling programme, especially
    when you don't know where to start.

•  The first step is to do your research, work out what works for your school,
    and create a project plan.

•  It does take time, effort and commitment. However, it's worthwhile and
    makes a huge difference to our environment both because it substantially
    reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfill, and creates
    environmental awareness and responsibility. 

•  Download our free schools recycling guide to get you going.


•  Paper: visit ( for
    information about a paper bank (no charge) and the programme. Schools
    are paid about R200 per ton and a contribution is made to both the SPCA
    and Hospice.

•  Cans: visit ( for more
    information about can collections or delivery to one of their depots.
    Different rates are paid for different types of cans. They supply
    "wool bale" canvas bags at no charge.  Once you deliver your full bags
    or have them collected you will receive a replacement bag.

•  Glass: visit
    ( They will provide a glass "bank"
    or bags and will facilitate arrangements for collection or delivery depen-
    ding on quantities.

•  Plastic: visit ( for more
    information and assistance regarding their schools programme.

In addition to setting up a recycling programme, look for
other ways to green your school.

•  You may want to run a litter campaign, set up a food garden or run a
    water and electricity monitoring and reduction programme.

•  Look for ways to reduce your consumption and reuse items.

A great programme to set up at your school is a
Roots and Shoots programme.

•  Roots & Shoots is the Jane Goodall Institute's international and
    humanitarian programme for young people. The mission is to foster
    respect and compassion for all living things, to promote understanding of
    all cultures and beliefs, and to inspire each individual to take action to
    make the world a better place for people, animals and the environment.
    All Roots & Shoots members, from pre-school to university, demonstrate
    their care and concern for living things through service projects in their

Roots and Shoots Aims:

•  To implement positive change through active learning about, caring for
    and interacting with the environment.

•  To demonstrate care and concern for all animals.

•  To enhance understanding between individuals of different cultures, ethnic
    groups, religions, socio-economic levels and nations through its global
    communication network.

•  To help young people develop self-respect, confidence in themselves and
    hope for the future.

•  To set up a Roots and Shoots programme or get more information e-mail

Recycling at the Office

Different offices or work environments have different needs, and create different amounts of waste.

  Assess your office and see what waste you mostly produce. If it's too
    daunting to begin recycling everything then begin with paper.


Option 1

  Paper is often the major contributor to waste in the office, and it's easy
    to recycle.

•  Mondi offers a paper pick up in many areas.

•  Put bins or boxes which are clearly signed in areas where people can
    deposit their paper, including next to the printer/copier.

Option 2

•  Separate your glass, plastic, paper and cans (metal) and general
    unrecyclable waste into separate containers.

•  Put separate bins, for glass, plastic, paper, cans and general waste in the
    office area. Avoid giving each individual a bin so they need to get up and
    put the waste into the relevant bins.

•  Strategically place bins for paper next to the printer and copier as well as
    in the working areas.

Option 3

•  Put 3 bins - one for general waste, one for paper, and one for glass, cans
    and plastic.

•  The office cleaners or designated staff members would need to separate
    the waste into separate bins in the refuse area.

•  To find out what can and cannot be recycled click on the products below
Food Waste for Compost

•  Have separate bins, bags or containers in the kitchen too.

•  Rinse the glass, cans, and plastic containers and squash them prior to
    putting them in the relevant bin.

•  Use as little water as possible so you don't waste this resource.

•  This will ensure that your recyclables don't starts to smell, and it de-
    creases the contamination of the materials for recycling.

•  Squashing means that less space is taken up, and more material can be
    transported in one go, lessening transport costs and emissions.

Drop off

•  Some municipalities have recycling collection depots for various products
    at some of their garden refuse sites. There are also a number of buy-
    back centres throughout the country.

•  In the same way that you drop off your garden refuse at a municipal site,
    drop off your recyclables.

•  Contact your local municipality to find out the closest depot to you, and
    then drop off your recycling at these centres. Also find out if a shopping
    centre, school, community centre or place of worship near to you has
    collection banks and drop off your recyclables there. 

•  Wait until you have enough waste to maximise your journey and minimise
    your petrol costs.


  The other option is to have a recycling company or waste management
    collect your recyclables. (If you are using such a service successfully
    please send this information to

•  Most recycling collection companies charge a collection fee to cover their
    transport costs.

•  The need to manage our waste in a more accountable way is our
    responsibility if we want to take steps to protect and conserve our planet,
    so the cost is worth it.

•  If you pay the municipality for more than one refuse collection bin, by
    recycling you should be able to do away with any extra municipal bins
    (and extra cost). The amount you pay the recycler will then be offset -
    partially or totally.

•  Contact Collect-a-Can, The Glass Recycling Company or the
Plastics Federation if you have a large amount of cans, glass or plastic.

•  Contracting with a recycling service provider for your company in
    Gauteng or Durban -
More Information


•  Ensure that everyone in your office, including the cleaning staff, knows
   how the process works.

Download your free recycling checklist

Office Recycling Guide

•  We've put together comprehensive guidelines on setting up an Office
    Recycling Programme for only R110.00

•  Include the project plan and bin signage in PDF format for an additional
    R 100.00

•  Send an email to and include the following
    information in the body of the email
    (Or fax the information to 086 531 6340)

    •  Name of company and contact person's details including an email
    •  Confirmation of Payment (Please use your company name as the
        reference when making the EFT and provide this reference on the
        email or fax)

Payment can be made via EFT to
Nedbank Account # 1686100795
Branch code 168642

Office Greening

Why should we make an effort to change our behaviour and green our lives and our offices?

Office Greening Guide

  The time is now to do what we must to limit our consumption.

•  We need to start at home and in the work environment.

•  Think of all the ways you can save and limit resource consumption within
    your office.

•  We've put together an Office Greening Guide to assist you in taking steps
    in the green direction.

  In addition to limiting our consumption of resources and helping to
    protect the planet, greening your office can save you a substantial
    amount of money.

•  To purchase a copy of our Office Greening Guide for R100.00, please
   send an email to and include the following
   information in the body of the email
   (Or fax the information to 086 531 6340)

     •  Name of company and contact person's details including an email
     •  Confirmation of Payment (Please use your company name as the
         reference when making the EFT and provide this reference on the
         email or fax)

Payment can be made via EFT to
Nedbank Account # 1686100795
Branch code 168642

Recycling Drop Off Points

•  Contact your local municipality to find out where their garden refuse sites
    are and what recycling products they accept.

•  Find out if schools, community centres, places of worship or shopping
    centres in your area have drop off facilities.

•  Please assist us in updating this information by sending us the name and
    address (including province) of the drop off site you use.

Municipal Drop-off Sites

Western Cape

City of Cape Town


•  Weltevreden Landfill - Main Reef Road, Brakpan

Eastern Cape
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality

KwaZulu Natal

Community Recycling Drop-off Facilities for cans, paper, cardboard, glass & plastic are located at all DSW garden refuse sites

•  DSW Bellair Garden Refuse Site - Cnr Bellair & Edwin Swales, Bellair
•  DSW Riverside Road Garden Refuse Site - Riverside Road, Durban North
•  DSW Malacca Road Garden Refuse Site - Malacca Road, Redhill,
•  DSW Tara Road Garden Refuse Site - Cnr Tara & Greys Inn Rd, Bluff
•  DSW Travencore Drive Garden Refuse Site - Travencore Drive, Merewent
•  DSW Phoenix Garden Refuse Site - Canehaven Drive, Phoenix
•  Mount Edgecombe Transfer Station & Garden Refuse Site
•  Pinetown Community Recycling Drop Off Centre - Pinetown Football Club,
    Mellor Rd, Pinetown
•  Durban North Community Recycling Drop Off Centre - Pick 'n Pay Hyper
    by the Sea, Waterkant Road
•  Kloof Community Recycling Drop Off Centre - Kloof Civic Offices,
   Emolweni Rd
•  Hillcrest - Shortlands Avenue, Scout Hall

Recycling Companies

•  If you are a recycling company and would like to promote your services
Contact Us

•  To set up a Recycling Programme at your company in Gauteng or Durban
Contact Us

Easy Recycling - Centurion, Garsfontein, Lynwood Manor - home or

Recycling Checklist - Click Here to download.

Recycling Programmes

Zero Waste – 20202 Serapeng Street, Mamelodi (Entrance opposite the Mamelodi Hospital)

Jewish National Fund Walter Sisulu Environmental Centre
Accept clean separated waste at the centre - plastic, paper, glass and cans
Between 8:00-16:00 - Monday to Friday.
Do NOT accept:
Cellophane, chips and biscuit packets
Cling wrap

What is Recycling?

Benefits of Recycling
How Can I Make a
What is Recyclable?
Things No Longer
Paper & Cardboard
Tins, Cans & Metals
Ink Cartridges
Motor Oil
Food Waste
Eye Glasses
Clothes & Household
Recycling At Home

Recycling At School

Recycling At Work

Office Recycling Guide
Office Greening

The Living Planet Report

Office Greening Guide


Recycling Programmes
Recycling Drop Off Points

Recycling Companies
Recycling Checklist

Recycling Programmes
What is Recycling?

The basic principle of recycling means using something again (reusing) for which it was not originally purposed. For example using a glass bottle as a vase or making an outdoor candle holder out of used cans.

Our first thought about recycling is separating our glass, plastic, paper, cans/tins from the rest of our waste, and either having it collected by a recycling company or taking it to a drop-off centre.

This step - know as recovery - is just the first step in the recycling process and the part that we, at home and at work, can actively be involved in. 

Recycling is the process of extending the lifespan of materials by converting waste into usable materials. It includes:

•  recovery - collecting or gathering waste material that can be re-processed

•  separating and cleaning the material at a
    recycling centre

•  processing it into a usable form (for
    example recycled glass cullet, or
    pelletised plastic)

•  using the reprocessed material (instead
    of using virgin material) combined with
    other materials to manufacture new products

•  selling the new products.

Recycling is a core component of modern waste management

The most common consumer items that are recycled include

•  aluminium beverage cans
•  steel
•  food cans
•  aerosol cans
•  plastic bottles
•  plastic bags
•  plastic food containers
•  plastic cosmetic containers
•  pvc
•  glass bottles and jars
•  cardboard cartons
•  office paper
•  newspapers
•  magazines
•  cardboard

These items are usually composed of a single type of material, making them relatively easy to recycle into new products.

Benefits of Recycling

•  Whatever we don't recycle just gets dumped and lands up on a landfill.

•  Recycling saves landfill space, as less waste needs to be dumped.

•  It reduces the negative impact of landfills on our environment.

•  Recycling saves natural resources.
    •  We conserve natural resources like plants,
        minerals and water when we use materials
        from products more than once.
    •  E.g. recycling paper saves trees, water and
        the energy needed to cut down, transport
        the trees, and grind them into paper pulp.

•  Recycling reduces the need for new raw materials.

•  Raw materials from recycled sources generally cost less than virgin

•  Recycling saves energy.
    •  E.g. glass cullet melts at a lower temperature, so less energy is
        needed melt the same quantity of new material.

•  Recycling can reduce water and air pollution.

•  Recycling reduces waste disposal costs.

•  Locally produced products using recycled material reduces the need for
    imported products and the costs involved (like exchange rate fluctuations,
    transport costs and increased emissions).

•  (Local is lekker is not just about job creation it also saves our environ-
    ment as the less transport required means less carbon emissions)

•  Recycling creates formal and informal jobs.

How Can I Make a Difference

•  Choose products that are reusable rather than disposable.

•  Choose products that have recyclable packaging rather than disposable

•  Choose products that have less packaging.

•  Check if the packaging is made from recycled

•  Make wise purchasing decisions. Ask yourself "Is it

•  Feed stale bread and scraps to the birds

•  Put fruit that's no longer fresh out for the birds.

•  Create compost to recycle food waste, like fruit, vegetables (leftovers
    and peels), bread. (Don't put meat and dairy into it) See our section on
    creating compost.

Do It and Talk About It
Encourage others to recycle. Be a recycling educating ambassador.
Encourage others to visit this site.

What is Recyclable?


Air is the ultimate recycled material. We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Through photosynthesis, plants use the carbon dioxide (and energy from the sun and water and minerals from the soil) to produce water and oxygen. Which we then breathe in. Plants are a brilliant recycling centre.


Water is also great example of a recycled material. It has many uses, and goes through many cycles between rainfall and evaporation. Without water we and our planet cannot survive, so it is our responsibility to take care of it. Visit our section on water to see what you can do to save water in your home

Follow nature's example and recycle.

See the
Reuse Section for ways of repurposing a variety of products you have in your home.

Things No Longer Needed

•  Don't dump your unwanted things so that they land up on landfills.

•  Take items that you no longer need to a second hand shop or give it to a
    welfare organisation for them to use or sell.

•  Advertise in the classifieds or on community noticeboards. Someone may
    need it.

•  Have a jumble sale.

•  Also buy from second hand shops - it's a lot cheaper and you can find
    great bargains.

•  And in case you're thinking second hand isn't for you... Think about this -
    have you bought a used car? Is your home new or did someone live
    there before? :

•  See more on this in the Reuse section

Paper & Cardboard
Tins, cans & metals
Ink Cartridges
Motor Oil
Food Waste

With paper companies having initiated pavement pick-up programmes for recycling, home based paper is the one product that we're becoming more accustomed to recycling.

If you're doing paper, why not do everything else?

•  Be conscious of throwing no paper into the regular rubbish and putting it
    all into the recycling bag. See the list of below for paper that can be

•  Paper that gets thrown into your main rubbish bin is destined for landfills 

•  Recycling all your paper can have a big impact on reducing the amount
    of raw materials and energy needed to produce fresh paper - saving
    trees, water, transport and energy.


•  White office and typing paper
•  Envelopes
•  Faxes
•  Printouts
•  Accounts
•  Junk mail
•  Newspapers
•  Cereal boxes
•  Medicine boxes
•  Tissue boxes
•  Clothing tags
•  Cardboard boxes
•  Cards
•  Magazines
•  Flyers
•  Pamphlets
•  Brochures
•  Catalogues
•  Calendars
•  Phonebooks
•  Egg cartons
•  Toilet paper inners
•  Roller towel inners
•  Notes
•  Till slips
•  Wrapping paper


Not recyclable

•  Paper that is waxed, glued, plastic or foil coated

Flatten boxes.
Keep all paper clean and dry.

Additional Tips:

•  Instead of using hardcopy holiday brochures, do your browsing on-line.
    •  Return the brochures to the travel agent so they can be used again.
    • See if a school would like to use them for projects.

•  Use your newspapers for insulation.

•  Let kids use other side of paper that's been printed on for drawing.

•  You can use the unprinted side as scrap paper.
    •  Cut the paper into squares and use it for notes.

Saving Energy

Making recycled paper usually uses less energy than making virgin paper, especially for newsprint and packaging papers

The Basics Of Paper Recycling

•  Paper is collected.

•  It is then sorted, graded by the recycling company and is sent to a paper

•  It is then made into pulp and contaminants - like staples, adhesives and
    plastics are removed.

•  The pulp mixture is put into flotation tanks where the pulp is cleaned and
    the ink is removed from the paper, until it is suitable for papermaking.

•  The water for cleaning the paper is also recycled as many times as
    possible before being sent to a water treatment plant for cleaning.

•  It is then ready to be made into paper.
Tins, Cans and Metals

Over and above food cans, paint tins, oil cans and others, there are over 3 billion beverage cans used annually for colddrinks, fruit juices, beer and cider in Southern Africa.

Locally produced cans are made from steel, whereas imported food and beverage cans are generally made from aluminium.

•  Steel cans stick to a magnet while aluminium cans will not. Test this on
    the side of the can.

•  Steel cans are dull in color and heavier in weight.

•  Aluminium can are a shinier colour and lighter in weight.

According to Collect-a-Can the current recovery rate (collection for recycling) of cans within Southern Africa is 68%.

•  This equals 130 000 tons of cans.

  This amount would cover the whole of an area the size of Braamfontein in

  Switzerland and Finland recycle over 90% of their cans. With a conscious
    effort we can reach this number if not better it!

Since Collect-a-Can's inception in 1993, 750 000 tons of used beverage cans alone have been recycled.

•  This is the equivalent of 150 000 elephants!

•  Recycling cans saves energy as less energy is required to make products
    from recycled material than from virgin material.
    •  One recycled aluminium can save enough energy to run a television
        set for three hours.
    •  Over 1kg of CO2 is saved when 1kg of steel cans (33 cans) is melted.

•  Separating and recycling your cans and tins reduces the volume of waste
    destined for landfills.

•  Empty and rinse your cans and tins before putting them in the recycling

•  Squash them if you can.

Aluminium, Steel, Metals


•  Beverage Cans
•  Food tins
•  Aerosol cans
•  Pie pans
•  Foil food containers
•  Tin-foil
•  Window frames
•  Garden furniture
•  Sheet metal
•  Bottle tops
•  Metal toys
•  Oil cans
•  Paint tins

Not recyclable

•  Recycling all your bottles and jars can make a big impact on reducing the
    excessive volume of waste we create.

•  Glass can be recycled over and over again, and the quality of the product
    is not affected.

•  Cullet is the term used to refer to glass that has been processed and
    crushed. See below for the glass recycling process.

•  Only 20% of all glass containers manufactured annually is recycled. The
    rest (about 550 000 tons) lands up on landfills - taking up valuable landfill

•  Recycling glass and other products substantially increases the lifespan
    of a landfill site.

•  One ton of cullet can make one ton of glass, whereas 1.2 tons of virgin
    material is required to make 1 ton of glass.

•  Recycling glass saves energy, water and other non-renewable natural
    •  For example: recycling one bottle will save enough energy to power a
    •  100 watt light bulb for almost an hour;
    •  washing machine for 10 minutes;
    •  TV for 20 minutes;
    •  computer for 25 minutes.

•  It's so simple. Make the effort and just do it.

•  Remove metal lids, caps, neck rings and corks.

•  Remove the collars from wine and champagne bottles.

•  Ensure all your bottles and jars are empty.

•  Remove stones and dirt.

•  Avoid using your bottles as an ashtray. If you do rinse out the cigarettes
    and ash.

•  Rinse.

•  There is NO need to crush glass bottles or jars. They are sorted at
    processing centres and crushed by machines.

•  Do NOT crush glass bottles or jars. They are sorted at processing centres
    and crushed by machines.


•  Jars
•  Bottles - Clear and coloured
•  Broken glass bottles or jars can be recycled.

Not recyclable

•  Traditional light bulbs (CFLs can be recycled but require special recycling)
•  Tableware such as china, porcelain or ceramics
•  Pyrex or cooking ware
•  Crystal
•  Drinking glasses
•  Spectacles
•  Windowpane glass
•  Windshields
•  Mirrors
•  Clay pots

Reuse or repair what you can.
Drop off your glass at a recycling glass bank.

The Basics of Glass Recycling

•  Glass is collected and taken to a recycling plant, where it is sorted
    according to colour, and cleaned.

•  The glass is crushed into tiny pieces called cullet.

•  Cullet is mixed with silica sand, soda ash and limestone.

•  This mixture is melted into a molten state in a furnace, after which it is
    poured into moulds to form new "containers".

•  The new recycled glass containers are then used as packaging for
    products which are purchased by consumers.

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The Living Planet Report

The Living Planet Report for 2008 (produced by WWF with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Global Footprint Network (GFN)) is published every two years and has become widely accepted as an accurate statement of the earth's ability to retain its functionality integrity as a "living planet".

The 2008 report warns of the danger to future prosperity if the over-consumption of the Earth's natural capital is left uncontrolled.

In the Forward to the report WWF International Director-General James Leape says:

The recent downturn in the global economy is a stark reminder of the consequences of living beyond our means. But the possibility of financial recession pales in comparison to the looming ecological credit crunch. ...Our livelihoods and indeed our lives depend on the services provided by the Earth's natural systems. The Living Planet Report 2008 tells us that we are consuming the resources that underpin those services much too fast - faster than they can be replenished. Just as reckless spending is causing recession, so reckless consumption is depleting the world's natural capital to a point where we are endangering our future prosperity.

...Our demands continue to escalate, driven by the relentless growth in human population and in individual consumption. Our global footprint now exceeds the world's capacity to regenerate by about 30 per cent. If our demands on the planet continue at the same rate, by the mid-2030s we will need the equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles. And this year's report captures, for the first time, the impact of our consumption on the Earth's water resources and our vulnerability to water scarcity in many areas.

The ecological credit crunch is a global challenge. ...More than three quarters of the world's people live in nations that are ecological debtors - their national consumption has outstripped their country's biocapacity. Thus, most of us are propping up our current lifestyles, and our economic growth, by drawing (and increasingly overdrawing) upon the ecological capital of other parts of the world.

The good news is that we have the means to reverse the ecological credit crunch - it is not too late to prevent an irreversible ecological recession setting in...

The introduction to the report states:
We have only one planet. Its capacity to support a thriving diversity of species, humans included, is large but fundamentally limited. When human demand on this capacity exceeds what is available - when we surpass ecological limits - we erode the health of the Earth's living systems. Ultimately, this loss threatens human well-being.

Click here for a copy of the full report
Purchase both the Recycling Guide and the Office Greening Guide for R300.00
Download Your Guide to Recycling
at School

Watch Your
Waste !

Do you want to run a full recycling programme at your school? If
you are based in Gauteng and are interested in being part of the
Green Flag Programme, let us know.