top of page
  • Writer's picturesalifemag

World Cleanup Day - when you recycle your PET bottles, put nothing in the bottle.

Your lesson for World Cleanup Day – when you recycle your PET bottles, put nothing in the bottle

Our country’s post-consumer recycling rates for beverage bottles are high but they could be higher if South Africans would learn one simple rule – put nothing in the bottle.

This is the view of South African National Bottled Water Association CEO, Charlotte Metcalf, who urges those South Africans who will be actively participating in World Cleanup Day this September 16 to listen to PET recycling experts such as PETCO and learn what to recycle and how to do so.

And, the most important lesson according to Metcalf is that PET bottles must be empty – not only of your beverage of choice but empty of other waste such as cigarette butts, chip packets and the like – in order to be recycled.

“Did you know that your PET bottle must be empty for it to get recycled?” she asked. “To quote PETCO, a PET bottle with any trash inside it will be considered contaminated for recycling purposes and sent to a landfill."

“Even worse, for every bottle containing trash, 19kg of other PET bottles in the same batch on the conveyor belt will also be considered contaminated, rejected by the recycling process and sent to landfill. This means that half a million PET bottles a day that could have been recycled will be wasted, worthless, and not recycled."

“So, this World Cleanup Day make sure you have learned the lesson. Keep the trash out of your bottle to keep your bottle out of the trash … or all your efforts could be in vain,” Metcalf pleads.

SANBWA’s members all comply with a stringent environmental policy and, because most of them bottle water in PET bottles, the recyclable and food-grade plastic most often used for beverage bottles, they are very concerned that these bottles should be recycled.

“Because most bottlers bottle water in PET bottles, and PET bottles make up approximately 70% of the total PET market in South Africa (with thermoformed trays, edible-oil bottles, jars, strapping and films accounting for the balance), SANBWA and its members recognise the importance of recycling beverage bottles."

“They all support formal recycling initiatives within the industry by working with suppliers/converters, and facilitate the recycling process by providing information to all players,” explains Metcalf.

“We also strive to educate consumers on industry efforts, and their own role and responsibility with regards to bottled water products. So, please do not stuff ‘stuff’ into your PET bottle before you toss it into the recycling bin.”

Metcalf also suggested that, before they fall for greenwashing, South Africans take a look at SANBWA’s frank assessment about the green credentials of PET alternatives.

“PET is often criticised as the cause of the plastic waste that pollutes our environment. As a result, there are various alternatives being touted to consumers, manufacturers, retailers, hoteliers and restauranteurs, including biodegradable and compostable plastics, cardboard or paper bottles or cartons, cans, and glass recycling or refilling."

“But, the solution is not as simple as replacing PET with one of these alternatives, no matter what the people who sell them say. This is South Africa, and we need to consider how these alternatives perform in a South African context, not Sweden, Germany, Japan, Australia or the UK and USA,” Metcalf urges.

bottom of page