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Recycling of Waste and Scrap
South Africa recycles approximately 75% of all of its used steel beverage cans, 40.6% of glass and 30% of plastic packaging. The most recent available figures show that the waste economy contributed approximately R24.3bn to South Africa’s GDP in 2016. Estimates indicate that there are more than 100,000 people earning an income from recycling. About 98 million tons of waste is deposited across the country’s 826 landfill sites and less than 40% is recycled. In its 2018 annual State of Waste report, the Department of Environmental Affairs said that South Africa produces 54 million tons of general waste and 67 million tons of hazardous waste, with only 6% of the latter being recycled.
Plastics recycling in South Africa continues to grow, with more than 334,727 tons recycled back into raw material in 2017. South Africa’s plastic recycling rate of 43.7% fares better than Europe’s 31.1%. The Glass Recycling Company reported that the recycling rate for all glass packaging increased to 41.5% during the 2016/2017 financial year from 41.1% in 2015/2016. The total number of glass banks in South Africa is 4,017 and 82% of glass bottles were diverted from landfills. South Africa is one of the world leaders in metal packaging recycling, with 75.8% of all metal packaging recovered in 2017, compared to 73% in 2016. South Africa produces approximately 360,000 tons of e-waste per annum but only 25,000 to 35,000 tons is recycled.
This report focuses on the recycling of waste and scrap in South Africa. It describes the size and state of the industry and the factors that influence it, including regulation and the state of the waste economy and landfill sites. There are profiles of 32 companies including Collect-a-Can, which recycles approximately 72% of all beverage cans in South Africa and e-waste recyclers Universal Recycling Company and Desco Electronic Recyclers.