How and Where to Recycle Plastics in South Africa

Jul 25, 2022 | 0 comments

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Recycling services aren’t standard throughout South Africa. Many services don’t collect recycling from residential properties.

If you want to be environmentally conscious, you must find nearby recycling services.

If you want to start recycling and are unsure how to start, Treevolution offers a free comprehensive guide to recycling in South Africa. The guide includes information on all types of recyclable materials including e-waste.

In this article, we consider:

What plastics can and can’t be recycled

The types of plastics are represented by numbers 1 to 7 printed on the packaging (see below). Most recycling services in South Africa accept all these plastic containers.

In 2019, South Africa had a plastic recycling rate 15% higher than most European countries. In 2018, 63% of all PET bottles produced were recycled. PET is the plastic substrate most commonly used for soft drink bottles such as Coca-Cola.

where to recycle plastics in south africa

However, recycling depots are run as businesses. Not all recycling depots find it worthwhile recycling every type of plastic. Check with the depot to see if it accepts all plastics.

Plastics that are mixed with other substrates are usually not accepted. For example, not all recycling depots accept Tetrapaks, which are a combination of plastic and cardboard.

Where to recycle plastics in South Africa

The Sustainable Sea Trust has an interactive map that shows thousands of collectors, recyclers, depots, landfills, swap shops and buy-back centres in most major centres in South Africa.

If you live in the Western Cape, the Green Map has a list of recycling companies that cover different areas of Cape Town. Some offer collections; others have drop-off points.

Some suburbs in South Africa have recycling collection services run by civic associations or community groups for a monthly fee.

For more remote suburbs in South Africa, search community Facebook pages or a local directory for recycling depots and drop-off points.

Tips for simplifying plastic recycling at home

The easiest way to simplify your plastic recycling needs is to reduce plastic use in the home. Plastics can be recycled, but there’s a limit to how many times. Eventually, all plastic ends up in the bin or repurposed in some way.

  1. Most recycling depots ask you to wash your plastics before dropping them off. Food waste contaminates other recyclables and makes them unusable.
  2. Check with your local collector or depot if you need to separate your plastics from other recyclables.
  3. Clean and sanitise recycling bins each time they’re emptied. Even with clean plastics, recycling bins develop mould over time.
  4. Soft plastics, such as cling wrap, are usually not recyclable. A good rule of thumb is – if it can’t tear with a straight edge, it’s not recyclable.
  5. Crush empty plastic bottles to save space. Put the lid back on to keep the bottle flat.

What we offer at Ecobox

At Ecobox, we don’t recycle plastics but we do offer green moving solutions in South Africa. Our reusable plastic moving boxes can be used hundreds of times before they need to be retired and recycled.

rent reusable plastic moving boxes

Our Ecoboxes are cleaned and sanitised after each use, making them a safe and eco-friendly way to move house or office. Order your Ecoboxes online or visit your nearest branch to rent Ecoboxes and buy packing materials.

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