There’s no such thing as too much choice: How our freedoms can fuel sustainability

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.

Sustainability [graphic]

Freedom Day is an annual celebration on April 27th in South Africa, the anniversary of the 1994 elections. This day serves as a reminder to South Africans of the countless sacrifices made by heroic groups and individuals to liberate them from the chains of unjust racial segregation. It honours the efforts of national heroes, particularly Nelson Mandela, who is widely recognised as a champion of freedom not just in South Africa, but throughout the world. This day marks not only the end of apartheid but also the restoration of essential human rights to South Africans in 1994.

Since the historic transition to democracy, the South African Constitution has become the bedrock of the nation's values, guaranteeing every citizen a set of freedoms often taken for granted. Our freedom of movement and freedom of choice underpins our constitutional right to live healthily and in harmony with the environment in South Africa, where we are free to conduct environmentally conscious activities, such as recycling, in any way we wish. No recycling service or waste management facility is made unavailable to you due to superficial circumstances, and businesses like Mpact Recycling and its many affiliated sites, welcome all visitors, trade, work, and communication.

In short, your recycling journey is truly yours, regardless of who you are and where you come from, thanks to freedom. This blog article explores how.

Freedom of Choice

At the core of our constitutional rights is the freedom of movement, a principle that goes beyond mere physical mobility. It symbolises the liberation of individuals to pursue opportunities, connect with diverse communities, and engage in the democratic processes that shape the nation. In the context of recycling, we become empowered to actively participate in initiatives that promote recycling and cultivate a green culture, crossing barriers to share in the responsibility for our environment.

Whether participating in local recycling programmes, joining environmental advocacy groups, or collaborating on community gardens, the freedom of movement becomes a catalyst for forging connections that contribute to the broader canvas of ecological consciousness.

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech serves as a cornerstone of democratic societies, empowering individuals to voice their opinions on a wide range of issues, even those that may be considered uncomfortable or controversial. In the context of crucial environmental topics like recycling, green transformation, sustainability, and conservation, this fundamental right plays a pivotal role in fostering open dialogue and raising awareness. The ability to freely express opinions allows individuals to engage in constructive conversations, challenge existing norms, and advocate for change in areas such as environmental practices.

Uncomfortable topics, like the urgency of adopting sustainable practices and addressing environmental challenges, often require honest and open discussions. Freedom of speech ensures that individuals can speak out against harmful practices, promote awareness about the consequences of unsustainable behaviours, and encourage collective action towards positive change. It enables citizens to engage in public discourse, sharing ideas and information that can influence policies, behaviours, and societal attitudes toward embracing environmentally responsible practices. In essence, freedom of speech is a catalyst for progress in the realm of environmental consciousness, enabling us to be heard and drive positive change on critical issues.

It is in recognition of social rights (like freedom of speech) that Mpact Recycling is committed to providing a safe and healthy working environment for our staff. We’re inclusive, build on the need for greater diversity and foster opportunities for people to express their views and grow. We also support projects that contribute to social upliftment in several communities where we operate.

Constitutional Rights

In the embrace of South Africa's diverse landscapes lies a constitutional commitment to protect the environment, particularly our precious water resources. Section 24(b) of the Constitution boldly asserts that "everyone has the right to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations." This commitment extends beyond mere rhetoric, with the Constitution mandating "reasonable legislative and other measures" to prevent pollution, kerb ecological degradation, and promote conservation. A pivotal element of this commitment is found in Section 27(1)(b), recognising our fundamental right to clean water and compelling the state to take progressive steps to realise this right.

Both the National Water Act and the National Environmental Management Act reinforce the notion that the state holds water resources and the environment in public trust for the people. Section 3 of the National Water Act designates the Minister as the public trustee of the nation's water resources, charged with ensuring their sustainable and equitable use for the benefit of all. Similarly, Section 2(4)(o) of the National Environmental Management Act declares that "the environment is held in public trust for the people," emphasising the imperative to protect it as a common heritage. Because we believe in these rights and responsibilities as well, Mpact Recycling (alongside the other divisions within the Mpact Group) is committed to the protection of clean water, clean air, and biodiversity in all our operations as part of our ESG strategy.

Recycling is a tangible expression of our commitment to environmental stewardship, which in turn, reflects on our constitutional right to healthcare. Environmental factors affect our well-being, and by reducing waste and promoting the reuse of materials, we actively contribute to mitigating pollution and ecological degradation. Then, as we embrace more circular practices, we not only reduce our ecological footprint but also foster a healthier relationship with the natural world. This, in turn, positively influences our well-being by ensuring that we live in harmony with our surroundings, reducing our overreliance of raw materials.

By giving industries (notably, paper and cardboard) access to key materials that would otherwise be sourced from nature, recycling protects the environment. By requiring less for the processing of new products, recycling protects our waterways. Recycling is therefore key to protecting our right to sustainable living, making it fundamental to practise it with regularity and passion.


In celebrating Freedom Day on April 27th, South Africans reflect on the enduring legacy of freedom and human rights since the end of apartheid in 1994. These freedoms empower citizens to engage in eco-conscious practises, particularly through initiatives like recycling, which plays a pivotal role in environmental preservation. The constitutional commitment to a healthy and sustainable South Africa extends to the protection of precious water resources, with legislation mandating measures to prevent pollution and promote conservation.

As South Africans commemorate Freedom Day, the interdependence of personal health and environmental well-being becomes evident, paving the way for a future where the collective journey toward a healthier South Africa integrates individual well-being with environmental preservation. The link between living healthily and adopting environmentally conscious initiatives is clear, contributing to cleaner surroundings and improved quality of life. As responsible citizens, this collective effort sets the stage for a future where the well-being of individuals and the preservation of the environment are inseparable components of South Africa's continued journey toward prosperity.

You have the right to a healthy home, community, economy, and country. You have countless options for pursuing each one as an individual or as a group. You have the voice and the body to drive change through action, education, and communication. So, use your freedom responsibly – to protect these privileges by participating in, engaging with, and understanding, the recycling infrastructure in South Africa.

There’s no such thing as too much choice. Happy Freedom Day.

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