Make a difference where you work, live, learn or playSubmitted by Monique Holtzhausen
“South Africa is facing a waste crisis, but every citizen can make a difference to reduce the amount of waste that pollutes our environment or ends up in landfill.” This is the opinion of Douw Steyn, Sustainability Director at Plastics SA and coordinator of the annual Clean-Up & Recycle SA Week that will be taking place from 12 to 17 September 2022.
According to Douw, approximately 54 million tonnes of waste is produced on a yearly basis in South Africa – the majority of which ends up in landfill. “This is enough to cover an entire soccer field 10 metres deep every day. The amount of waste we generate puts our landfill sites under extreme pressure”, he says.
This will be the 26th year that Plastics SA coordinates South Africa’s involvement in the International Coastal Clean-up Day (ICC) that will be taking place at beaches around the country on Saturday, 17 September. In partnership with volunteer organizations and individuals around the globe, the ICC engages people to remove trash from the world’s beaches and waterways.
“Since its inception, more than 17 million volunteers have collected close to 1,6 million kilograms of litter globally - making our coasts cleaner and our oceans healthier. As a result of the success of this annual event, we decided to turn the entire week into a nationwide awareness campaign that encourages citizens of all walks of life, ages and backgrounds to make a conscious effort to pick up and remove litter from their streets, neighbourhoods, schools, inland water sources and streams or nearby beaches,” Douw explains.
Clean-Up & Recycle SA Week is actively supported by all the packaging streams, Producer Responsibly Organisations (PRO’s), various sponsors, business and industry, national and local government, community organisations and municipalities. The week includes River Clean-Up Day (Wednesday, 14 September), National Recycling Day (Friday, 16 September) and the ICC / World Clean-up Day (Saturday, 17 September) that unites 180 countries across the world for a cleaner planet. Apart from raising awareness to the general public and our industry partners, Plastics SA will also be actively supporting various clean-up initiatives taking place throughout the month of September. The umbrella body representing all sectors of the South African plastics industry will be distributing more than 500 000 refuse bags to support clean-up events.
Despite the fact that COVID-19 restrictions prevented large groups of people from attending public clean-ups over the past two years, Clean-Up & Recycle SA week continued to grow from strength to strength. “We noticed that people started to focus much more on cleaning their immediate surroundings. When lockdown prohibited them from attending large public clean-up events, eco-warriors took to their own streets, local schools, rivers, beaches and public spaces. As a result, we saw significant amounts of visible litter being removed, separated and sent for recycling,” he reported.
For people eager to participate in coordinated clean-ups this year, Douw suggests you visit the official www.cleanupandrecycle.co.za website for information on how and where to get involved. Apart from useful background information and photographs of previous years’ events, details of event sponsors and partners, you can also access the national list of clean-up coordinators or register to attend a clean-up taking place near you.
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