The PSPC was formed in 2007 by representatives of manufacturers, consumer bodies and recycling organizations in an effort to raise awareness of polystyrene, its wide variety of packaging applications, and the importance of recycling this material.
Since then, the PSPC has established an efficient and dynamic polystyrene recycling industry in South Africa. Through consistent hard work, investing in the local recycling industry and partnering with innovative collectors and recyclers, the PSPC has managed to successfully address many of the challenges that existed around the recycling this versatile product.
Our primary objective is to coordinate the efforts of the various role-players in the polystyrene industry, in order to demonstrate a commitment to extended producer responsibility and the environment through a well-orchestrated polystyrene collection and recycling network. To this end, numerous sustainable recycling projects have been identified, developed and implemented around the country – moving the association into a new era of recycling.
Polystyrene Recycling Projects:
We are passionate about being an industry sector that makes a real difference to the socio-economic fibre of our country by contributing to job creation, economic growth, addressing unemployment and providing convenience to the consumer. As proof of this, the PSPC actively supports and assists in growing various polystyrene recycling projects that offer sustainable solutions for the recycling of each polystyrene product in South Africa, and that create a viable end-market for the product.
- Charity Projects
There are currently 4 polystyrene recycling underway throughout South Africa that have a strong undercurrent of being “charity projects” in that they touch the lives of the poor and the vulnerable and can involve communities in the collection process. These include:
- Breadtags for Wheelchairs
This hugely successful project started in 2008 and has already touched hundreds of lives around the country. By collecting breadtags made from high impact polystyrene, schools and organisations can “purchase” wheelchairs for people who need them, but are unable to afford to afford it due to financial difficulties.
- CLICK HERE for more information about the “Breadtags For Wheelchairs Project”
The well-known saying that “sorrows are made less with bread(tags)” was proven to be true on numerous occasions last year thanks to the highly successful Breadtags for Wheelchairs Project, managed and administrated by the Polystyrene Packaging Council’s (PSPC).
Started in 2008, the project encourages people around the country to collect their breadtags (which made from high density Polystyrene) by placing them in one of the hundreds of collection boxes that can be found at schools at schools, retirement villages, libraries, community centres and businesses throughout South Africa. Once enough breadtags are collected, they are used to “purchase” wheelchairs for people who need them, but are unable to afford them due to financial difficulties.
High density Polystyrene has the number 6 polymer identification code. Instead of sending these breadtags to our country’s already overfull landfills, they are sent for recycling. Breadtags and other products made from high density polystyrene products, e.g. CD cases and plastic cutlery, are recycled into coat hangers, seedling trays, cornices, skirtings, outdoor furniture, poles and decking.
Factories manufacturing polystyrene and other plastics consume less energy when they used recycled products, resulting in a cleaner, greener and healthier environment.
This initiative has grown from strength to strength over the past few years. Last year alone, we were able to donate wheelchairs to 137 people thanks to the collection of breadtags by schools, businesses, old age homes, the Girl Scouts and our coordinators volunteering their time and effort. The project is also gaining is gaining momentum across South Africa thanks to large corporations such as Foschini, Sasko and Kwikloc are putting their weight behind us by pledging to donate two wheelchairs for every one wheelchair that is bought with the breadtags.
Because it is important to ensuring that the right wheelchair is purchased when seating people, the PSPC has formed a working relationship with the Quadriplegic Association of SA. Their 600 volunteers countrywide are joining our 105 volunteers in the collection efforts, and they will also be assisting us with assessing the requirements of the wheelchair recipient. Another boost to the project has come from ME Mobility, a local wheelchair manufacturer, who has agreed to give us a preferential rate and will also be servicing the wheelchairs to ensure that the wheelchairs donated by the Polystyrene Council stays in a good condition.
>> FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BREADTAGS FOR WHEELCHAIRS PROJECT:
- How do I get involved?
- Where do I get a collection box?
- How many breadtags must be collected in order to buy a wheelchair?
- How do I arrange for the breadtags to be collected?
- I need a wheelchair. How do I go about registering with the project?
- Tutudesk project
The Tutudesk project encourages schools, communities or groups to collect high impact polystyrene (e.g. plastic cutlery, yoghurt tubs, and the outer casings of BIC ballpoint pens) which is then recycled into a simple, yet portable and robust school desk that a child can place on their lap, whether they are sitting on the floor or on a chair. It creates a dedicated ‘work zone’ and stable writing platform. Each desk is designed to last the lifetime of the child at school, and falls under the patronage of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
- FAQ about the Tutudesk project
- The Wonderbag Project
A Wonderbag® is a heat-retention cooker that requires only enough heat to start the cooking process. Because of the insulating properties of polystyrene, the attractive-looking bag is filled with recycled polystyrene pellets that allow it to retain the heat and completes the cooking process with no further electricity needed. Each Wonderbag is hand-sewn in the factory run by Youth for Survival, a skills development NGO.
- FAQ about the Wonderbag® project
- Construction Projects
What was once considered to be the scourge of the recycling community, has now become the material of hope for many people desperate to build or own their own homes. Thanks to its excellent insulation properties, post-consumer, recycled polystyrene is now used and mixed with a special cement mixture to build and insulate low cost housing developments. Each house (80 m2) contains a minimum of 550 kg of polystyrene, which is thoroughly mixed with concrete to form walls that are almost indestructible.
- FAQ about the Construction projects
- Commercial Projects
However, there are also commercial projects that involve corporates and are aimed at developing recycled polystyrene into a product of value with a commercial focus. These include:
- Recycling polystyrene into picture frames which are sold on large scale to leading retailers;
- The trading of recycled polystyrene beads through an online portal on the Polystyrene Packaging Council’s website (www.polystyrenepackaging.co.za), which facilitates the trading of pellets to the crafting community and other interested parties.
PS Recycling figures
According to the latest recycling figures available, plastics packaging contributes to visible litter. Largely used in the take away industry, expanded polystyrene is therefore regarded to be one of the culprits and contributors to this problem. The PSPC, together with other packaging role players in the plastics industry, has backed to the Paper and Packaging Industry Waste Management Plan which was submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2011.
In 2012, a total of 208 543 tons of packaging was recycled. This is an increase of 10.7 % from 2011. Exports of plastics packaging waste increased more than 51 % from 8 294 tons in 2011 to 12 532 tons in 2012. Therefore, plastics packaging waste diverted from landfill totalled 221 075 tons in 2012.
According to the report, the PS recycling figures (1 621 tons used in packaging and 1 774 tons used in non-packaging) recorded a small growth recorded. However, according to the author of the report, these figures are very conservative and only reflect PS recycled into picture frames. It therefore does not give a true reflection of the activities in the industry, as take away food containers, punnets and bread tags are not recycled through the conventional recyclers interviewed for the recycling report. As mentioned earlier, these packaging materials are collected and sold directly to the end-users for extruding or injection moulding into end products.
The manufacturing of building panels and the various “re-use” projects recover increasing amounts of polystyrene waste from the waste stream, which we are now able to accurately capture and report for the next plastics recycling report, thanks to the new POLYNET web application which gives more accurate information and the true nature of polystyrene recycling in South Africa.
Enlarging our footprint
- Schools: The PSPC has partnered with WESSA (Wildlife Education Schools of South Africa) and its network of Eco-Schools for the past couple of years now, to collecting polystyrene at their various schools. However, since the beginning of 2014, the PSPC has also actively engaged and formed similar partnerships with public and private schools around Gauteng. These schools have upgraded their recycling depots with sponsored PSPC wheelie bins and have become active collectors of polystyrene earmarked for recycling. Plans are currently underway to expand our footprint to public and private schools in other provinces.
- Investing in technology: The Polystyrene Packaging Council is taking the recycling of polystyrene to the next through investing in the development of a web-based application called “Polynet”, which enables the industry to effectively recycle polystyrene. This first of its kind technology ensures that statistics for the recycling are readily available and progress or growth in markets and collections are measureable.
- Corporates: The PSPC has formed partnerships with large corporates, such as ABSA Bank and Nedbank, to encourage polystyrene recycling in their place of work. Dedicated collection points have been formed in the head offices of these companies where staff are encouraged to recycle their polystyrene packaging from their cafeteria, coffee cups etc and to get involved in the above mentioned charity projects.
- Southern African Nursery Association (SANA): the PSPC has reached an agreement with the Southern African Nursery Association (SANA) for the establishment of collection points for post-consumer polystyrene (expanded and high impact) at nurseries around South Africa.
Polystyrene continues to be used as the packaging material of choice for fast food and convenience food retailers now that people have become aware of the burgeoning market that exists in South Africa for recycled polystyrene.
Until recently, one of the biggest headaches we faced when talking to recycling companies and converters, was the need to wash and dry the contaminated polystyrene – typically used in the manufacture of takeaway hamburger clamshells or disposable coffee cups or food trays. The high cost of electricity and water in our country did not make it a viable financial option for smaller recycling plants to invest in infrastructure that would mechanize this entire process, resulting in much of the used polystyrene either being sent to landfills or exported to countries such as China and India for recycling. However, through hard work and dedicated efforts, the PSPC has formed partnerships with innovative companies and individuals who refuse to be defeated or take “no” as an answer.
As a result, the PSPC is now in a position to offer solutions to manyof South Africa’s most pressing needs, namely the need for safe, affordable and sustainable, low cost housing, the need for community-based employment, assisting in education and providing wheelchairs – all while diverting valuable and recyclable materials away from the country’s landfill sites.
For more information about the PSPC’s projects, contact the Recycling Coordinator, Thinus Prinsloo, on (012) 259-0554 or (083) 983-0290, alternatively via email at Thinus@Polystyrenepackaging.co.za. Visit www.polystyrenepackaging.co.za for more information.