The report on the Recycling of Waste and Scrap examines the recycling rates of the different waste streams, the latest developments in the industry and factors influencing the success of the sector. The report also profiles 28 industry players, including Universal Recycling Company which has ten different divisions and in its e-waste division, processes approximately 1,800 tons of electronic scrap per annum, and The New Reclamation Group (Pty) Ltd, which employs more than 2,300 people and has 70 collecting and processing facilities located across Southern Africa.
Recycling of Waste and Scrap
This report focuses on the recycling of metal waste and scrap as well non-metal waste including plastics, glass and e-waste. The Department of Science and Technology estimates that the South African waste sector is valued at R15bn, which equates to 0.51% of national GDP. Approximately 540 million tons of waste is generated annually, with 90% of this waste disposed in landfills, instead of being recycled. It is almost impossible to accurately calculate the number of informal collectors and recyclers, but estimates indicate that there are more than 100,000 people who earn an income from the recycling industry.
A Competitive Global Market
The domestic scrap collecting and recycling industries operate within a very competitive global market where scrap has become a valuable commodity. In the plastics sector, of the 315,600 tons of plastics diverted from landfill, 31,087 tons or 9.8 % was exported for recycling during 2014. In the scrap metal sector where the metal recovery rate is 80%, an estimated 1.5 million tons, more than 50% of the scrap metal recovered, is exported for recycling instead of being used to the advantage of the local economy.
Insufficient awareness about the importance of e-waste disposal continues to result in poor collection rates in the domestic e-waste sector. Despite it being the fastest growing waste stream worldwide, the South African e-Waste Alliance (SAEWA) estimates that e-waste only makes up between 5% and 8% of municipal solid waste. Most ends up in landfills or is exported to countries that have bigger capacities for recycling, while only about 10% to 15% is recycled locally.