Recycling: the why, what how and where?

Many of us have heard of recycling, but how many of us know the importance of recycling? I suppose that if asked, the majority of us would come up with a response like “because it’s good for the environment”, but there’s more to it than that… much much more.

So why should we recycle? To start off with well … you guessed it – it’s good for the environment. The Earth only has finite resources and at some point these must run out – unless we start reusing that which we already have. But when we look deeper we will find that that it also aids socio-economic development. Recycling raises awareness which in turn prompts an alteration in behaviour which leads to action which results in positive change – streets are cleaner (reduce), attitudes are changed so that people now take pride in their surroundings and all the recycled materials can be used to make other new objects (reuse) and employment opportunities are created. Because pollution is reduced, quality of life improves – people are happier and more productive. This is particularly true of impoverished communities.

This leads us on to what can be recycled? The following are just a few examples of what can be taken to recycling centres:

  • METAL

o   Cold-drink and beer cans

o   Food tins

o   Metal lids of glass jars

o   Aluminium cans (eg, Red Bull),  foil and foil packaging (including newer soft-drink cans as well)

o   Paint, oil and aerosol cans (leave labels on them so recyclers can see whether they contain hazardous material).

o   Rusty cans

  • GLASS

o   Beverage bottles

o   Food jars such as tomato sauce, jam and mayonnaise bottles

  • PAPER

o   White paper

o   Cardboard

o   Old newspapers and text books

  • PLASTIC

o   Milk bottles

o   Plastic bags

o   Cling wrap

o   Household chemical bottles such as Stasoft, etc.

The best way to determine if a plastic product is recyclable is by looking at the recycling logos (usually on the bottom of the product) of which there are seven. The logo informs of the grade or chemical makeup of the container.

The following CANNOT be recycled: Drinking glasses (hardened glass containing chemicals that raise the melting point to above the normal melting point of most disposable glass food or beverage containers); light bulbs  – ordinary and energy-saving and fluorescent tubes (contain mercury – toxic and may contaminate soil and groundwater); Tetrapak (although technological advancements have made it possible to separate the layers it has not yet made its way to most recycling centres); gloss or laminated paper; confetti; carbon paper; stickers; batteries; Pyrex and ceramic plates as well as all foodstuffs.

Now that we have basic idea of why and what should be recycled we come to the how of the recycling process. The simplest way to recycle is by taking your refuse back to the nearest recycling centre; however the staff of the  centre would have to sort the refuse resulting in extra time and space wastage and possibly even increased health hazards (toxic materials, rotten foodstuffs, rats, insects, odour, etc.).  A better approach is to divide your waste into recyclable and non-recyclable items – although the recycling centre staff would still need to sort your material, the health hazard factor is significantly reduced. An ideal approach would be to sort the materials at home into separate bins – plastics, paper, metal, glass and non-recyclables. This would mean minimal sorting for the recycling centre staff and allow for greater volumes of recyclable materials to be processed on a daily basis, making the recycling process far more efficient and cost-effective.

You now know why, what and how to recycle, but now you need to know where to recycle. Recycling takes place at home, at schools and at work. Once the recyclable items have been sorted they may either be taken directly to the recycling centre, or picked up from designated drop-off points as arranged between the management of the recycling centre and a local municipality. The items will then be transported to the relevant handlers of recyclable goods which then get remade, sent out to factories, filled with goods and sent back to the supermarkets.

In Clarens, a drop-off point is located between the Bibliophile and Knife-Makers shop just one street over from the Square and collections are made early in the morning of Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week. Recyclables are also picked up from our local schools on Thursdays of each week. For individuals wishing to drop off their own recyclables, the recycling centre is situated in the same complex as the Working on Fire and Clarens Village Conservancy base opposite the refuse transfer facility near the Schaaplaats road.

For additional information regarding recycling ask Uncle Google (he knows everything), or take a few minutes out to visit the recycling centre and talk with the manager, Mrs Evon Els for a more in-depth and personally satisfying approach to recycling.

D.Coulson

 

For more information  click here to visit the Clarens Recycling Centre Page