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eWasa reaches 31% polystyrene recycling target

7th March 2024

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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During the 2022/23 reporting period, a 31% recycling rate for polystyrene was achieved, registered producer responsibility organisation the Extended producer responsibility (EPR) Waste Association of South Africa (eWasa) says.

This milestone underscores the effectiveness of the organisation's initiatives in bolstering recycling infrastructure for this material used in food packaging, and protective packaging for household appliances, car parts and other fragile items.

“Certain materials have long been considered challenging to recycle. Polystyrene, in particular, has garnered a reputation for being difficult to repurpose, leading to a prevailing misconception that it cannot be effectively recycled,” says eWasa EPR specialist and business associate Adri Spangenberg.

“Various new end-markets have been developed in recent years for recycled polystyrene, ranging from lightweight concrete bricks to picture frames, cornices, curtain rods and other building and construction products.

“Additionally, the integration of polystyrene recycling into household waste collection systems signifies a pivotal shift in waste management practices and paving the way for more inclusive and comprehensive recycling programmes,” she says.

One of the driving forces behind the achievement of this recycling rate is the growing demand for sustainable waste management solutions, she says.

“As global awareness of environmental issues continues to escalate, organisations like eWasa are increasingly under pressure to enhance recycling capabilities and divert materials from landfills.

“Further, pressure groups such as the Plastics Pact have underscored the importance of re-evaluating traditional perceptions of recyclability.

“eWasa's success in achieving a substantial recycling rate for expanded, extruded and high-impact polystyrene challenges the notion that it is not recyclable, prompting a paradigm shift in waste management discourse and on-pack labelling,” says Spangenberg.

Further, the improved recycling rate underscores the economic viability of the various recycling initiatives that eWasa supports.

“This is a significant milestone that we have achieved through collective effort by industry stakeholders who are supporting eWasa's unwavering commitment to advancing recycling initiatives,” says eWasa CEO Keith Anderson.

“The funds raised from our polystyrene packaging members have been channelled directly into recycling and collection efforts, underscoring our proactive approach to addressing waste management challenges,” he says.

By challenging entrenched perceptions and investing in innovative solutions, eWasa has demonstrated the transformative power of collective action in addressing environmental challenges, he adds.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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