The South African National Bottled Water Association (SANBWA) has congratulated PETCO, the organisation responsible for fulfilling the South African PET plastic industry’s role of extended producer responsibility, on exceeding its recycling rate target for the second consecutive year.
Earlier this month, PETCO had announced its 2016 recycling figures which indicate an increase in its annual PET recycling rate from 52% of post-consumer bottle PET in 2015 to 55% in 2016, exceeding its expected target of 50% for the second consecutive year.
The organisation recycled an additional 22% of post-consumer bottles in comparison to the previous year, with the total PET market growing by 14.8% to 241 269 tonnes.
“CEO Cheri Scholtz, her board of directors and the network of people, companies and organisations PETCO works with deserve more than a pat on the pack for this remarkable achievement,” said SANBWA executive director, Charlotte Metcalf.
“Not only did they collect 2 billion PET bottles, equivalent to 90 749 tonnes, for recycling across South Africa during the course of 2016, they created some 62 000 income opportunities for small and micro-collectors, changing their lives and those of their families in immeasurable ways.”
The voluntary recycling fee paid annually by PETCO members on every tonne of raw material purchased has enabled the payment of a total of R1.9 billion by PETCO’s contracted recyclers to collectors for baled bottles since the inception of the organisation in 2004, ensuring the collection of PET bottles for recycling is sustained, and resulting in almost 800 000 tonnes of carbon and over 3 million m3 of landfill space saved to date.
South Africa’s 55% recycling rate compares well with international PET recycling rates. The US rate of post-consumer PET recycling hovers around the 30% mark while European average rates are around 59%. However, much work is being done globally to understand these statistics as the bases differ substantially and a direct comparison cannot be assumed.
As an organisation, SANBWA was among the first worldwide to require its members to follow specific recycling guidelines. In this respect, it was advised by PETCO in South Africa (the local plastic industry’s first joint effort to self-regulate post-consumer PET recycling), and requires its members only use recycling friendly materials or recycling optimal materials as stipulated in the SANBWA Bottled Water Standard and published on https://petco.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/PETCO_Design-4-Recycling-Guide.pdf
PETCO’s Design-4-Recycling Guide addresses all elements of packaging from the form of the package (for bottles, for example, wide necks assist in washing the bottle at the recycler), material type, material identification (to facilitate the visual identification of plastic types during manual separation), composite materials and barrier layers, labels and inks, additives, colour, and closures, closure liners and sleeves.
“Importantly, SANBWA formally audits its members’ compliance with respect to environmental stewardship,” said Metcalf. It will soon also audit non-members, and inform these bottlers when or if they find any shortfalls in their packaging, and suggests changes.
“All bottled beverage bottlers must remember that extended producer responsibility is a legal requirement for doing business in South Africa.”