Rising Volumes of Plastic Bottle Recycling in South Africa

The PET Plastic Recycling Company (Pty) Ltd (PETCO) and its’ 28 signatories announced this year that post-consumer plastic beverage bottle recycling in South Africa grew by 18% year on year in 2012. The recycling rate rose from 42% in 2011 to 45% in 2012, while the local market consumption of PET grew from 145 000 to 166 000 tonnes.

According to PETCO, this amounts to the recycling of over 1.9 billion PET plastic beverage bottles in 2012 – that’s an astonishing 5.3 million bottles each and every day. 

plastic bottle recycling in South Africa_ss


“By recycling 45% of post –consumer beverage PET, we achieved a full 1% more than what was targeted for 2012” says Cheri Scholtz, CEO of PETCO.

Close to R 193 million was paid for sorted, baled bottles delivered to recyclers and approximately R 422 million was injected into the local economy through the sale of recycled PET for downstream products. 

From an environmental perspective, by recycling 50 280 tonnes of PET plastic beverage bottles, PETCO estimates that 75 420 tonnes of carbon was saved. This is the equivalent of the amount of carbon sequestered in a year by cultivating 17 957 hectares of spekboom. By recycling this amount and reducing the volume of post-consumer PET plastic in the waste stream, 311 736 cubic metres of landfill space3 was saved, which is the equivalent volume of just under 125 Olympic sized swimming pools. 

The 2012 results serve as an affirmation of the efforts of the PETCO members and as a benchmark for improvement in 2013. “There is still much work to do to capture the remaining percentage of bottles that were not collected and with the post –consumer PET recycling targets set to rise to 58% in 2017, with a growing market size, increasing the volume of bottles collected for recycling is thought to be the best method of achieving this” says Scholtz.

PETCO sets recycling targets for 5 year window periods, thus knowing what they are looking to achieve, growing the industry by an additional 5 000-6 000 tonnes per annum. 2015 will be a milestone year, with PET recycling targets set at 50%: that is half of all post-consumer beverage PET in the market. 

3 Responses to “Rising Volumes of Plastic Bottle Recycling in South Africa”

  1. Mathews Lesole September 18, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    I see on this picture, baled bottles have not been adequately prapared,I take stickers have to be pre removed and caps separated at source and be recycled as bottle caps. I have seen it done that way in one ofthe developed countries.

  2. Robbie Veldhuizen September 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    What is recycled PET used for?

    • Green Africa Directory September 25, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      Hi Robbie. According to PETCO in South Africa, PET bottles that are recycled into PET pellets can be used worldwide to manufacture may types of new products including:
      – fibre for polyester carpet
      – fabric for T-shirts, long underwear, athletic shoes, luggage, upholstery and sweaters
      – fibrefill for sleeping bags and winter coats
      – industrial strapping, sheet and film
      – automotive parts, such as luggage racks, headliners, fuse boxes, bumpers, grilles and door panels
      – geotextiles (road stabilisation)
      – ceiling insulation
      – composite timber products
      – new PET containers for both food and non-food products

Leave a Reply