Dieter Harck, Broker/Owner of Fourways-based real estate agency RE/MAX One Hundred, explains that individual communities have to work together in an effort to remedy a global issue and believes that the recycling of waste from every household would go a long way to achieving this.
“This is why RE/MAX One Hundred is a RE/MAX Green rated office, part of an initiative for all RE/MAX offices to become eco-friendly by complying with certain criteria,” he says. Part of the RE/MAX One Hundred’s green initiatives is recycling of their waste through a local service provider, Mama She's Waste Recyclers.
While an important feature in modern green living standards, many households don’t recycle because it is difficult to find facilities where one can dispose of recyclable household items. This is where Mama She's Waste Recyclers can assist, explains Harck, who encourages all Fourways residents to follow his offices’ lead and start recycling. “For a nominal monthly fee of R45, each participating household will be provided with bags or a range of containers and bins into which recyclable material such as paper, cardboard, cans, glass and plastic should be placed. Homeowners don’t even need to sort these items as Mama She's Waste Recyclers does it all once the bags have been picked up.”
Mama She's Waste Recyclers has a buy back centre and all of the mixed recyclables that are collected are taken to its head office where they are separated on a sorting line, baled and sent off to the various processors to produce new materials.
Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, supports local green initiatives. “If you think about it,” he says, “every metric ton of paper recycled saves 17 trees and uses 40% less energy, and 50% less water. If all household paper/cardboard was recycled, 750 000 cubic metres of landfill space would be saved a year. The energy saved from paper recycling in a year is sufficient to provide electricity to 512 homes for a year, according to the Paper Recycling Association of SA,” says Goslett. “It stands to reason then that every bit we as individuals and as communities can reduce, reuse or recycle can make a significant difference to the bigger picture.”
“If this is not reason enough to encourage you to begin recycling,” says Harck, “then think about glass which is 100% recyclable but does not biodegrade. The raw materials for glass – sand, soda and lime – all have to be dug from the earth and melted together at very high temperatures, meaning that recycling this product will save energy. The energy saved from recycling just one bottle will power a 100-watt light bulb for almost an hour. Every ton of glass recycled also saves 1,2 tons of raw materials, according to The Glass Recycling Company. Then there are cans, which are also 100% recyclable. They are melted down to make new steel, which in turn reduces the need to mine new iron ore and saves on the energy used to mine and process it,” he says.
More than 36 000 tons of high-grade steel is recovered for re-smelting a year according to Collect-a-Can. The recycling of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) products over the last eight years has grown from less than 1 000 tons recycled in 2000 to 29 000 tons or 32% of beverage bottles recycled in South Africa in 2008 – an increase of 4000 tons on the previous year, as noted on www.petco.co.za.
In South Africa, Gauteng generates the most PET post-consumer product at 55% of the national total, followed by the Western Cape with 13%, KwaZulu-Natal accounts for 10% of PET waste, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga account for 5% each and North West and Free State each generate 4% of SA’s post - consumer PET product. Limpopo and the Northern Cape create the smallest PET post-consumer product at 3% and 1% respectively.
So just how good is South Africa at recycling? Harck believes there is a lot of room for improvement as only 69% of cans are recycled, 59% of paper, around 25% of glass and about 17% of plastic. “The message is clear: each household needs to stop simply throwing away rubbish and start implementing the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle,” Harck concludes.