On 17 August 1995, President Nelson Mandela gave the opening address at the Conference on National Environment Policy. In it, he emphasised South Africa's urgent need to develop industries sustainably, balancing development with environmental protection.

Over the past three decades, recycling has undergone a remarkable transformation. Indeed, it has far surpassed niche activist beginnings, to become what it is today.

Last month, we discussed what the future may look like if all industries embraced the circular economy. This month, we’d like you to take a step back in time – to the very first democratic elections in South Africa.

South Africa is home to roughly 90,000 waste pickers, recyclable collection companies and entrepreneurs who earn a living by collecting, sorting and delivering recyclable waste to Mpact Recycling’s branches.

Mpact Recycling was founded upon being able to service the packaging industry by reclaiming and recycling as much post-consumer waste as possible, thus planting the seeds of a full circular economy. As recently as 2022, we helped recycle over 700,000 tonnes of packaging waste rather than send it to landfill, turning it back into many useful new packaging products for our clients. While it isn’t the perfect circular future we’re committed to, it is a start.

The Earth has 6 natural resources that need little introduction: water, air, oil, natural gas, coal, and minerals. These resources are, in a manner of speaking, elemental – not only to our way of life, but our very existence. Without some of these resources, society as we know it would not be possible. Without all of them, life wouldn’t be possible on our planet at all.

As Valentine's Day approaches, it's the perfect time to rethink the traditional expressions of love and explore ways to make the day more sustainable and meaningful. This year let's embark on a journey of circularity, recycling, and embracing love languages that not only nurture our relationships but also contribute to a healthier planet.

As the problem of waste management becomes increasingly acute in South Africa and around the world, recycling has never been more critical. With growing awareness, many more of us are making greater efforts. To be as effective as possible, these efforts should begin not when we’ve finished with a product or its packaging, but when we first buy it. Knowing the difference can make a difference.

You don’t need to be a full-fledged eco-warrior to understand how important responsible waste management is in protecting our environment. Yet many of us aren’t sure when it’s better to recycle, upcycle or re-use. Knowing the difference can make a difference.

Today, as pollution reaches critical levels, recyclability has to be one of the priority considerations. Legislation has been enacted through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations that oblige ‘producers’ to adhere to recyclability guidelines. As importantly, environmental issues have become commonly understood by an increasingly better-informed public to the point where recyclability forms part of the purchase decision-making process.

It's the responsibility of the government and Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) to provide social waste services. At Mpact Recycling, our focus is on recycling waste efficiently to ensure valuable recyclable materials are repurposed rather than ending up in landfills.

The “circular economy” is mentioned a lot more often these days. That’s a good thing because it is a sustainable and innovative approach to tackling urgent environmental challenges, a tangible, practical and viable system to reduce waste. It urges individuals and companies to rethink their consumption and waste habits and design their products with an end-of-life use in mind that incorporates the materials used back into the value chain, thus promoting the responsible management of resources, whilst minimising pollution.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world," said Nelson Mandela. But have you ever considered how this can be applied to crucial contemporary issues like climate change and plastic pollution?

Global Recycling Day is celebrated on 18 March every year.
In 2018, the Global Recycling Foundation created Global Recycling Day, which is recognised by the United Nations, as recycling is part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

Mpact Recycling is the leading collector of recyclable packaging (such as paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and cans) in South Africa. As a division of the Mpact Group, their branches provide a place to store, sort, and bale recyclable materials collected from both pre- and post-consumer sources. The company plays a crucial role in promoting the importance of recycling in Southern Africa, collecting over 600,000 tonnes of recyclables in 2021 alone.

Historically, the recycling and waste management industries have been male dominated for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, this has changed over the past few years and the shift to gender diversity is being driven by the leaders in the industry, like Mpact Recycling.

On rubbish collection day, few of us probably ever think about where our trash is going and what that place even looks like. General rubbish is taken by the municipality to a landfill site and, for many South Africans, rubbish “out of sight is out of mind”.

Only clean and dry recyclables are valuable recyclables. That’s why we’re encouraging you to participate in our unique take on #DryJanuary.

Paper was first fashioned in 105 AD in China by a court official named Tsai Lun. It is believed that he combined tree bark, hemp, fishing nets and old rags with water and pounded it into pulp. He then pressed out the liquid and hung the thin matted sheet to dry in the sun.

Many of us are looking forward to the festive season for well-deserved downtime and family time. Yet happy festivities can lead to over-consumption, from the meals to the gifting, ultimately leading to a significant amount of extra waste being generated, which is not so happy for the environment.

South Africa’s high unemployment rate has resulted in many people looking to start their own business and be self-sufficient.

Greenwashing is the practice of providing misleading information about a product that makes it seem more environmentally friendly than it really is. It’s when an organisation labels its products as sustainable and spends more time and money on marketing itself as environmentally friendly than on minimising its environmental impact.

On 25th April 2022 South Africa’s leading recycler, Mpact Recycling, opened its recycling operation in Bridge City, KwaZulu-Natal. The R150 million investment into this world-class infrastructure in the KwaZulu-Natal region will succeed in enabling the Group to service the Northern Coast corridor.

Some things just don't go together

There are things in life that need to be kept separate. While the best things in life go together like apple pie and cream, there are many things like pilchards and jelly or vinegar and pap that don’t. Other things that don’t go together: recyclables and non-recyclables. It’s important to keep them separated.

A rapid increase in the growth of South Africa’s population and urbanisation has led to a rise in per capita waste generation. This places stress on current landfills and results in increased amounts of waste in the environment.

Buy-back centres are facilities that pay a fee to waste collectors for the delivery of recyclables in the areas which they operate. These centres provide a vehicle for waste reclaimers to earn an income.

Mpact Recycling runs a national schools and communities programme as part of its post-consumer portfolio. These programmes play an important role in that they enable consumers to interact directly with the business, and both the Mpact and Mpact Recycling brands.

Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. This year’s theme is Invest in our Planet, calling on both businesses and individuals to contribute to a more prosperous and equitable future through collective action for change.

One of the best motivating forces for recycling waste comes from the income opportunities that it creates. Through recycling and diverting waste, anyone can earn an income or even start and maintain a sustainable business.

Every year, the Earth yields billions of tonnes of natural resources and at some point, in the not too distant future, it will run out. That is why we must think again about what we throw away – seeing not waste, but opportunity.

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