Each year, data is collected from plastics recyclers around the country by Plastix 911 on behalf of Plastics|SA. PETCO provides figures from its listed PET recyclers, while Sasol and Safripol provide input on the production and domestic demand of plastics raw materials.
Due to increased awareness of hygiene caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for flexible packaging increased by 2%. Demand for rigid packaging shrunk, although packaging used for domestic and personal care increased due to the greater emphasis on cleaning and the increased demand for hand sanitisers. Packaging sheeting was also used to manufacture face shields locally.
Seeing a decrease of 5.6% from 2019, 1 739 480 tons of polymer were converted into plastics products. Locally recycled polymer represented 17% of the total domestic consumption, a drop from 18.3% in 2019.
Per capita consumption for locally converted plastics (virgin and recycled) decreased to 29kg/person (down from 31kg/person).
South Africa recorded an input recycling rate of 43.2% during 2020. A total of 461 500 tons of plastic waste were collected for recycling, of which 312 600 tons were successfully recycled back into raw materials; 296 500 tons of recyclate were used to produce new products, while 97 260 tons were used to produce new packaging.
Sixty-four percent of incoming waste came from landfill and other post-consumer sources. The majority of the volume (54%) was sourced from the formal sector, collectors and waste management companies. Eighteen percent of the waste was post-industrial materials, sourced from distribution centres, shopping centres, farming communities and other waste generators, 3.6% was obtained directly from waste pickers and walk-ins, while a further 6% was collected from drop-off facilities and buyback centres.
Recycling of plastic waste saved 213 500 tons of CO2 – equivalent to the emissions generated by 45 000 cars.
Only 5.2% of the recyclate was exported as raw material to plastics converters in the SADC region and Asia.
Recycled flexible packaging was the largest market for recyclate in 2020, with 22% of recycled materials used to manufacture products such as shopping bags, refuse bags and general flexible packaging.
Click here to read in our E-mag.