• Staff writer


One of the planet’s most pressing problems is the incorrect disposal of waste. About 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste is generated annually, according to the World Bank, with conservative estimates being that at least 33% of that is not managed in an environmentally safe manner.

With most municipal solid waste coming from homes, Global Recycling day on 18 March was a good time for consumers to take stock of their recycling habits – and of paper recycling in particular.

According to Anele Sololo, general manager of RecyclePaperSA, the paper recycling association of South Africa, wood-based products such as paper are rapidly gaining a reputation for being the ultimate renewable. Contrary to popular belief, recycling paper is not about saving trees; it is encouraged because paper products actually store carbon for the length of their lives. While trees are growing, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and since they are so efficient at this, half the dry weight of wood is carbon, which stays locked up in the wood even when it is turned into paper, construction materials or furniture. The carbon is only released if the wood rots or is burnt, so recycling paper is a great way to protect the environment.

Recyclable paper should be kept clean and dry, separated from other recyclables and wet waste, preferably in its own container, and dropped off at a recycling centre. Alternatively one can subscribe to a recycle collection programme offered by several companies.

The following products can be recycled: magazines, brochures, newspapers, office paper, envelopes, cardboard boxes, packing cartons (flattened), books, milk, beverage and food cartons, paper cups.

The following products are not recyclable due to possible contamination, laminate or foil finishes: used paper plates, disposable nappies, tissues, toilet paper, wax-coated, foil-lined or laminated boxes, used cement bags, used dog food bags, foil gift wrapping, carbon paper, laminated paper.


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