Why Recycling is a Business, not a Charity.

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.

Everyone accepts that recycling is good for the environment. In fact, as South Africa’s landfills verge on a capacity crisis, it should be considered not just good but essential. As South Africa’s largest paper recycler and leading collector of recyclable packaging, we have a big part to play. However, to truly make a lasting impact, collaboration between the government, PROs and recycling companies like ours is crucial.

The only sustainable solution to managing our waste dilemma is for recycling to be not just a good intention but a commercially successful operation. Mpact Recycling is leading the way in proving the long-term business viability of recycling.

We don’t collect waste as a charitable service, we collect it to be recycled and ultimately resold as a new product. That’s how our critical role in driving a circular economy works.

Part of a Bigger Picture

Mpact Recycling is a pivotal part of the Mpact Group, the leading South African packaging company committed to developing practical, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable solutions that help bring us closer to a true circular economy.

Mpact Recycling focuses solely on recycling activities, whilst other divisions in the group perform different functions. The integration of services offered by Mpact maximises operational efficiencies across the spectrum. Mpact Waste Management, for example, works on site to provide comprehensive, sustainable solutions to the full waste management process. Mpact Recycling and Mpact Waste Management are intricately linked, creating a seamless, sustainable workflow. Specifically, Mpact Waste Management collects recyclable materials - such as paper, cardboard, selected grades of plastic, glass and cans - from its clients. These materials are then sold to Mpact Recycling, transforming Mpact Waste Management into both a crucial supplier and a vital cog in the circular economy that Mpact champions. This interdivisional synergy amplifies operational efficiency across the group, making a substantial contribution to sustainability.

While Mpact Recycling collects significant volumes of recyclable materials, with figures nearing 700,000 tonnes in some years, the responsibility for waste collection rests with the local government. The Waste Act requires that private waste service providers obtain the approval of the municipality before commencing waste collection. Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs), as part of their obligations, also have a vital role to play in waste collection as do the army of informal waste collectors.

Our Place in the Circular Economy

Our recycling operation prevents hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste from going into landfills and instead either being remanufactured in our paper mills or sold on to other converters, for instance to plastic recyclers.

  • 700,000 tonnes of waste collected in 2022
  • National footprint
  • 15 Mpact Recycling branches countrywide
  • Over 40 partner Buy-back Centres
  • Awareness programmes in schools and residential estates
  • Recovered paper is then sent to one of Mpact’s three paper mills

The Good That Recycling Does

Recycling is a game-changer for our planet. By participating in the recycling process, we directly cut down on the consumption of natural resources required to produce new items. Moreover, the energy efficiency of most recycling operations far surpasses that of manufacturing from raw materials.

An estimated 90% of our waste goes into landfills, controlled sites, or is either burnt or illegally dumped. By reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills we are reducing the amount of carbon and methane emissions and so we are helping to fight climate change. We save on the expense of running landfill sites and are helping to mitigate a potential capacity crisis for landfill sites.

The greater the amount we recycle the greater the benefit to the environment and the more the sustainability offered by the circular economy becomes a reality.

Recycling isn’t just good for the environment. It’s good for peoples’ pockets. Waste collecting provides income opportunities for an estimated 60,000 to 90,000 residents of South Africa, with the number of people benefiting from the income extending far beyond that.

Add to that the manufacturing output from recycled materials and the people who are employed in manufacturing, and the economic value of waste becomes highly significant.

In a study in 2016, the estimated contribution of the waste economy to Gross Domestic Product was a staggering R24.3 billion.

For the Greater Good

While Mpact Recycling is very much a business, it’s a business built solidly on sustainability. And for us sustainability means adding value that goes beyond commercial success.

Our staff are recruited and treated in an ethical and responsible manner, and we acknowledge that we could not deliver on our sustainable business goals without the commitment and buy-in of our own people.

We understand that our business operations have an impact on the communities in which we operate. The 40 Buy-back Centres we partner with across the country for instance might at times be a source of irritation for the public, but we engage with community leaders and explain the economic value of these centres.

Since Buy-back Centres are vital to our recycling business, we facilitate their connection with Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) who provide them with training. We also assist in navigating local municipality regulations, equipment procurement, and contributions towards the maintenance of their premises. If you're interested in starting your own Buy-back Centre, you can read more in our How to Start Your Own Buy-back Centre blog post.

Our Ronnie Recycler Schools Programme encourages schools to collect waste and importantly instils in children the importance of recycling.

Our Residential Estates Recycling Programme means residents have waste under control and recycling efforts in the bag.
As part of the Mpact group, we believe that we have a responsibility to add socio-economic value and you can read more about those here.

Mpact Recycling is a business focused solely on collection and sorting. Beyond doing good business we take seriously our responsibility to also just do good.

For more information from the various packaging PROs, and the recyclable materials for which they administer EPR schemes on behalf of their members, please visit their websites or contact them directly:

List of Relevant Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs):

  • Fibre Circle: Website, Tel: 011 803 5063
  • Petco: Website, Tel: 0860 147 738 / 021 794 6300 / 011 615 8875
  • POLYCO: Website, Tel: 021 276 2096
  • Metal Packaging Association of SA (METPAC-SA): Website, Tel: 082 880 9580
  • The Glass Recycling Company (TGRC): Website, Tel: 011 463 5644
  • The Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (AMA): Website, Tel: 011 234 0467
  • Polystyrene Association of South Africa: Website, Tel: 021 808 1600    

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