Behind the Times

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

South Africans often bemoan the fact the latest movies, music and gadgets have later local release dates than many international territories. A recent survey revealed that it is not only the areas of media and technology where we are behind the times, but recycling as well.

A study conducted by the BMi Research Consumer Division showed that knowledge and awareness are areas that need to be addressed. While households across the earning spectrum take part, the poll also showed that many South Africans were ill equipped to recycle. Respondents are not all sure of where to take goods and are uncertain as to precisely what items can be recycled.

The study made a number of interesting discoveries. Convenience is a major factor and is currently where the biggest improvements can be made. Wealthy areas may have multiple collection points but many poorer communities have few or none. This means that those who do want to recycle have to walk far, often through dangerous areas. Another interesting find was that organisations are seen as being the most wasteful and therefore need to focus more on recycling initiatives.

Local government also has a part to play. In California in 2008, over 80% of glass bottles introduced into commerce were recycled, representing a nine percent upward change from 2007. The U.S national average for recycling glass beer and soft drink bottle this period was just under forty percent. The reason for this is believed to bottle deposits – the state of California places deposits on certain types of bottles. Deposit laws were passed in the 1970s and only apply to certain types of glass, mainly soft drinks and beer bottles. The states in which these laws have been changed recycle less.

While bottle deposits may not be the final solution, they are an example of initiatives that local government can implement. In Australia, battery manufacturers, recyclers, retailers, government bodies and environment groups have joined forces to promote the collection, recycling and disposal of batteries. They have placed over 150 bins for old batteries in Perth, have recycling bins at retails stores, and many local councils have hazardous waste collection services.

Below are a number of South African resources you can read about for further information on recycling and waste disposal.

• The National Recycling Forum -

• The South African Recycling Initiative -

• Recycle Me -

• YES -

• Nviro Assist -

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