July 23, 2012 (TSR) – The South Africa Polystyrene Packaging Council (PSPC) said on Monday it is assisting Zimbabwe to develop recycling industry which will help boost economic growth and create jobs.
PSPC Director Adri Spangenberg said the Zimbabwean government and environmental organizations have begun putting pressure on local industry to realize the economic potential in the recycling sector.
“The country now has the available resources and motivation to look at saving landfill space and putting a sustainability plan into action,” Spangenberg said in Johannesburg.
“They have heard of the successes we (South Africa) have been able to achieve with Polystyrene recycling and developing new markets for recycled polystyrene in South Africa,” she said.
Emerging from political and economic crisis, Zimbabwe is currently facing a bright economic outlook. The country’s economy grew an average 9.3 percent last year as it continued to bounce back after a decade of economic decline, and will expand further in 2013 on the back of increased output in mines and farms benefiting from the more stable political climate.
Apart from spelling out the importance of creating a sustainable and responsible polystyrene recycling forum and offering advice on the best investments to be made into infrastructure, PSPC is also offering Zimabwe advice on how to correct misconceptions that exist surrounding polystyrene and the importance of ongoing consumer education.
“Currently there is no recycling of polystyrene taking place in Zimbabwe and some of the locally manufactured and imported polystyrene are not marked with the recycling symbol – making polystyrene identification difficult in this country,” Spangenberg said.
“In addition, a lot of education also needs to be done amongst the Zimbabwean public as polystyrene litter is visible in the streets and the people are ignorant about the correct usage, disposal and recycling of polystyrene.”
The recycling industry is fast emerging as reliable job creator and contributor in South Africa.
According to recycling company PETCO in South Africa, about 15 million U.S. dollars is returned by recycling annually in form of reclaimers payments. PETCO’s target is to recycle 50 percent of all beverages Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) by 2015 and 70 percent by 2020, translating in the creation of over 20,000 income opportunities for informal collectors.
“There is money in collecting these plastics and bottles. We are making a living through this. A day I get something around 80 rand (12 U.S. dollars) from selling plastics and bottles,” said 33-year-old Zoyi Nzunzu , a reclaimer who collects recyclable goods for sale in Johannesburg South.
Nzunzu is one of thousands of the unemployed in South Africa who survive by collecting empty bottles, cans and plastics for sale to recycling companies. Many of them have accepted taking this as their permanent jobs.
Spangenberg said her organization has already assisted in towards the establishment of a joint working group, which is represented by many polystyrene industry’s role players in Zimbabwe.
A steering committee is driving the process forward and has taken on the responsibility of developing a strategic business plan that will be presented to the stakeholders, she said.
“They have identified various objectives they would like to achieve during the short to medium term, such as investigating the pelletizing of polystyrene and the use of Polystyrene in building projects. Zimbabwe is hoping to achieve PS recovery rate of 20 percent of total volume per annum and to set up a recycling program first in Harare, followed by the rest of Zimbabwe,” Spangenberg said.
PSPC said the Harare initiative and this development will see increased recycling of polystyrene throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
“By combining our knowledge and resources we will be able to develop improved strategies and markets that will ultimately be to the benefit of our entire continent,” Spangenberg said.