SA's paper recycling trend on the increase

9th March 2007 By: Brindaveni Naidoo

About 935 000 t of recyclable paper was collected in South Africa in 2006, which indicates a 57% recovery of the available paper to be recycled.

Mondi Recycling national marketing and sales manager Peter Hunter says that recycling is vital in the paper and pulp industry with a growing world trend towards recycling.

“In 1970, 23% of the total paper manufactured in the world was made from recovered paper. Today, this figure is 50%, which is remarkable as the world is consuming more paper and extra efforts are made towards the recovery of that paper,” he says.

Hunter points out that every ton of paper collected prevents 17 pine trees from being cut down. This means that paper collected in 2006 prevented the felling of 16-million pine trees.

The balance of paper not recovered ends up in a landfill site, which is environmentally unfriendly and is not cost efficient. For every ton of paper collected, three cubic metres of landfill space is saved, which is the equivalent of 2,8-million cubic metres of landfill sites not used in 2006.

According to Hunter, awareness surrounding the importance of recycling is growing. This, he believes, is necessary as the effects of global warming become internationally apparent. Recycling can assist by saving landfill sites that contribute to pollution and release carbon into the air.

Hunter says a challenge in the recovery of paper is that only 14% of paper is recovered is from householders and 42% from the business sector. This is in comparison to the national recovery rate of 57%. The low percentage of paper recovered from households is because individuals tend to throw away newspapers, magazines and cardboard.

Hunter is optimistic about the new waste management Bill to be tabled in Parliament this year, which will allow local authorities to pass by-laws that will force household owners to separate their paper at source for recycling.

With a 39% market share, Mondi Recycling is the biggest recycler of paper in South Africa. For 16 years, this division of Mondi Packaging has operated a kerbside side paper-pick-up programme targeting over 400 000 homes in Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The company’s recycling efforts include programmes that target small business, the commercial sector, schools and charities, homes and offices.

The company’s owner-driver programme entailed Mondi Recycling selling all its collection vehicles to previous employees at discounted prices.

These employees now generate income for each ton of paper collected.

The Ronnie Bag is a polypropylene bag that is used to store paper, magazines, newspapers and cardboard in homes. When paper is collected and emptied into the owner-drivers vehicle, the bag is returned to the user. This programme is linked to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (SPCA) and Hospice, were money is allocated to these charities on a continuous basis, based on the amount of paper collected.

Mondi Recycling supplies recovered paper to board and paper mills. The recovered fibre sources include pre-and post-consumer with the development of various Paper Pick-Up programmes and an extensive network of agents and dealers. In this process Mondi Recycling has created 2 500 jobs.

In accordance with global standards all Mondi Packaging South Africa (MPSA) operations are ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 accredited. MPSA is a black economic-empowerment company.