As distributors of disposable and other packaging we believe that it is important for us to share recycling information with our customers to encourage responsible disposal of waste products. Our planet needs us to change our habits and think twice before we dispose of items that we no longer need. Recycling is one way in which we can make a positive impact.
Most recycling collectors will ACCEPT:
Paper & cardboard
- Newspaper & magazines
- Office paper & envelopes
- Phone books & school books
- Corrugated cardboard & cereal & food boxes
- Toilet rolls & cigarette boxes
- Remember to:
- Separate white office paper from magazines and newspapers.
- Flatten cardboard boxes to save space.
- Keep paper and cardboard dry
Aluminium & Steel
- Soft drink & beer cans
- Empty food tins
- Bottle lids
- Aluminium foil & packaging (100% recyclable here)
- Cans and tins can be recycled irrespective of being rusted, burnt or squashed.
- Rinse and flatten tins in preparation for recycling.
- Scrap metal can be dropped off at drop-off sites or sold to scrapyards
- Motor oil cans must be kept separate as they are considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of separately.
- Recycle all empty glass bottles & jars [NB. Unbroken glass only if the recycling will need to be sorted]
- Glass is 100% recyclable and can be endlessly recycled without loss of purity
- Always include glass bottles with your recyclables as they don’t decompose in landfills.
- Throw glass into community glass banks for recycling or wash, re-use or repurpose instead of discarding.
- Do NOT include:
- Ceramic & clay products
- Heat-resistant ovenware e.g. Pyrex & Visionware
- Motor vehicle windscreens
- Window panes
- Mirrors and reinforced glass
- Light bulbs, fluorescent tubes and car headlights (recycle separately here)
- Laboratory glass
Plastic (Including Polystyrene)
Most plastic packaging items have recycling symbols imprinted on them to help you identify the kind of plastic – these are depicted by a triangle with a number between 1 & 7 in the middle (see the guide below).
- Recycle all plastics with a number 1,2,4,5 within a triangle
- Clean polystyrene (PS), number 6 in triangle, can now be recycled in Cape Town.
- Rinse and flatten all plastic bottles before recycling to save space and prevent contamination.
Please note: Plastic with a 3 or a 7 in the identification triangle cannot be recycled in Cape Town.
For a detailed breakdown of the different kinds of plastics and what they’re used in, see the Plastics Guide below.
Guide to Plastic Identification Codes
Contrary to popular belief, the triangle on plastic products does not necessarily mean that it is recyclable. The symbol denotes the type of plastic resin used and that in turn determines how it should or should not be recycled. It is therefore important that the consumer become familiar with these codes.
PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate
PET is one of the most commonly used plastics and is found in most water and cool drink bottles, and some food packaging. It is intended for single use applications and should not be reused. Recycled PET is used to make new PET bottles, or spun into polyester fibre used to make clothing, carpets, stuffing for pillows and duvets, and similar products.
Products made of PET plastic should be used once and then recycled.
HDPE – High-Density Polyethylene
HDPE plastic is the semi-flexible to hard plastic that is resistant to chemicals and used to make milk bottles, ice-cream containers, detergent bottles, buckets, toys, and some plastic bags. HDPE is the most commonly recycled plastic and is considered one of the safest forms of plastic. It is a relatively simple and cost-effective process to recycle HDPE plastic for secondary use. HDPE plastic is very hard-wearing and does not break down under exposure to sunlight or extremes of heating or freezing. For this reason, recycled HDPE is used to make plastic outdoor furniture, plastic wood, bins, fencing, and other products which require durability and weather-resistance.
Products made of HDPE are both reusable and recyclable.
PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride
PVC is divided into two categories. Unplasticised PVC-U is strong and tough and plasticised PVC-P is a soft, flexible plastic. PVC is used to make electrical conduit, cosmetic containers, plumbing pipes, blister packs and sheeting and a myriad of other consumer products. Because PVC is relatively resistant to sunlight and weather, it is also used to make window frames, garden hoses, and trellises and other outdoor products. Almost all products using PVC require virgin material for their construction. While some PCV products can be repurposed, PVC products should not be reused for applications with food or for children’s use.
Products made using PVC plastic are not recyclable.
LDPE – Low-Density Polyethylene
LDPE is often found in cling wraps, plastic bread bags, squeeze bottles, plastic shopping bags and irrigation tubing. LDPE is considered less toxic than other plastics, and relatively safe for use. It is not commonly recycled, however, although this is changing in many communities today as more recycling programs gear up to handle this material. Recycled LDPE plastic is used to make plastic wood and refuse bin liners.
LDPE should be recycled.
PP – Polypropylene
Polypropylene plastic is a tough, lightweight and versatile plastic that has excellent heat‑resistance qualities. It serves as a barrier against moisture, grease and chemicals and keeps products fresh. PP is also commonly used for disposable diapers, plastic bottle tops, dairy containers, potato chip bags, straws, packing tape and rope. Products made using PP plastic are reusable, but not always recyclable. Check locally to see if they are accepting PP plastic items for recycling. Polypropylene is recyclable and is used to make landscaping border stripping, battery cases, brooms, bins and trays. Note that foiled polypropylene bags are not recyclable.
PP is also considered safe for reuse & should be recycled.
PS – Polystyrene
Polystyrene is an inexpensive, lightweight and easily-formed plastic with a wide variety of uses. It is most often used to make disposable Styrofoam drinking cups, take-out containers, meat trays and foam packaging and chips used to fill shipping boxes to protect the contents. Polystyrene is also widely used as insulation in home construction. While the technology for recycling polystyrene is available, the global market for recycling is still relatively small. In South Africa, however, the most recent development is that recycled polystyrene is mixed with a special cement mixture for use in the building and construction industries. Enquire locally to find out if PS should be included with your recycling.
The City of Cape Town encourages inclusion of clean (not oil impregnated) PS in your recycling.
Other – BPA, Polycarbonate, LEXAN and PLA
This category was designed as a catch-all for Polycarbonate (PC) and “OTHER” plastics, so reuse and recycling protocols are not standardized within this category. The new generation of compostable plastics, made from bio-based polymers like corn starch, are also included in this category and have the initials “PLA” on the bottom near the recycling symbol. Some may also say “Compostable.” PLA coded plastics should be thrown in the compost and not the recycle bin since PLA compostable plastics are presently not recyclable in South Africa. Please also note that PLA must reach the desired temperature (58 – 60°C) and have water added (hydrolysis) in the compost heap to be effectively broken down.
Category 7 plastics are not recyclable.
Most recycling collectors will NOT ACCEPT:
- Food, teabags & coffee grinds (rather add to compost)
- Juice cartons lined with foil or plastic
- Disposable coffee cups
- PLA products
- Cling wrap
- Nutriday or small Danone and similar yoghurt containers
- Code 3 and 7 plastics
- Ceramic items
- Floor tiles
- Waxed paper, tissues, paper napkins & serviettes
- Stickers or sticker backing
- Laminated paper
- Sweet & chocolate wrappers
- Chip packets
- Window glass and other tempered glass
- Containers holding poisonous substances
- Light bulbs or fluorescent tubes
- Cosmetic tubes or toothpaste tubes
- Foil lined pharmaceuticals tablet packs
- Pesticide containers
- Brake fluid or used oil
- Cooked food waste
- Organic kitchen waste – compost at home where possible
General rules of recycling
- Sort through your waste, separating wet from dry waste and then categorize the dry waste for recycling into:
- Paper and cardboard
- Batteries (most major supermarkets have a drop off bin)
- Electronics & E-Waste (find a specialised drop-site here )
- Keep your recycle materials clean, flatten boxes, remove caps and rinse out food or drink containers.
- Think before you discard, a lot of items which are thrown away could actually be recycled, re-used or re-purposed.
- As sorting is done by hand in South Africa, it is best practice to empty, rinse/clean your containers and bottles that contained food products to ensure that these do get recycled and do not contaminate the people or facilities that are handling the recycling!