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Recycle or trash?

Time to recycle
Time to recycle

Recycling is not something we, as South Africans, do very well and our waste management companies don’t appear to be very open to it. What we do have, however, are the street guys with their trolley’s making a noise and a mess on garbage collection day.

put out your plastic, paper and tins for these street guys to collect
put out your plastic, paper and tins for these street guys to collect

These men and women go through our bins looking for paper, plastic and metal, searching for items that they can collect and take to the recycling depot, where it is sorted and weighed and then they are paid for it.

I am sure everyone has had a run in with these people as they sometimes leave quite a mess behind.

Why not do something good? Sort your garbage into recyclable and non- recyclable bags, before you bin anything. Make an area where you can separate the trash into different bins or boxes that will allow these people to collect their chosen currency and not have to go ‘dumpster diving’ in your garbage.

create your own recycling centre, this picture is thanks to borealisblog.com
create your own recycling centre, this picture is thanks to borealisblog.com

Yes, this will take some training for ourselves and our households, but we will be doing that little bit towards the environment and alleviation of poverty.

It is all very well for me to talk about it, but how do we implement it?  The first thing is to know what is recyclable, so here is a list:

I got this off http://treevolution.co.za/guide-to-recycling-in-sa/


  • Cold drink and beer cans
  • Food tins
  • Metal lids off glass jars
  • Aluminium cans (e.g., Red Bull),  foil and foil packaging
  • Paint, oil and aerosol cans (leave labels on them so recyclers can see whether they contain hazardous material).
  • Rusty cans can be recycled


  • Beverage bottles
  • Food jars, such as tomato sauce, jam and mayonnaise bottles

You cannot recycle

  • Drinking glasses
  • Light bulbs  – ordinary and energy-saving compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) – and fluorescent tubes. NB CFLs and fluorescent tubes should not be thrown away with ordinary rubbish. They contain mercury, a toxin that can leach into the soil and groundwater if not disposed of properly. Take your old CFLs to the drop-off points at Pick n Pay and Woolworths stores where they will be disposed of safely. If you don’t have this option, place your old CFLs in a sealed plastic bag before you throw them in the bin.


  • White office paper
  • Magazines and books (as long as nothing is laminated)
  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard (boxes and cereal boxes).

The following CANNOT be recycled:

  • Laminated or waxy paper
  • Punch confetti
  • Carbon paper
  • Stickers



Plastics are made from oil, a non-renewable resource,but much of the plastic packaging we use every day is recyclable. Ice cream and milk containers, fabric softener bottles, plastic bags and even cling-wrap can all be recycled.

The easiest way to determine whether a plastic product is recyclable is by looking for its recycling logo. There are seven plastic recycling logos and most plastic packaging is imprinted with one of them. The logos tell you what type of plastic a container is made of. Each type has to be recycled separately.

Plastic recycling symbols from cheatography.com
Plastic recycling symbols from cheatography.com


I think that it is still okay to put all plastic together and the collectors can sort what they want.

Fruit juice and milk containers look like they’re made out of paper, but they are lined with aluminium foil and plastic so they must be recycled separately. Tetra Pak has opened its first small-scale recycling facility in Germiston, Gauteng, where its packaging is recycled into roof tiles, furniture and stationery. The company has plans to open more recycling plants around South Africa.



Disposable batteries are not recycled – this is apparently because the material recovery rate is too small to make recycling economically viable. But they should not be thrown away with ordinary household waste either, because they contain toxic chemicals that can leach into the soil and groundwater. Rechargeable batteries, on the other hand, are recyclable. Add to this the fact that they last a lot longer than ordinary batteries and you have a compelling argument to buy rechargeable batteries from now on.

You CANNOT recycle

  • Pyrex
  • Ceramics (plates).


My small suggestion is to use your regular kitchen bin for things that cannot be recycled. A second bin for food waste, as this can be turned into fertilizer for your garden.   Other small bins for plastic, paper, metal and glass. You can have an extra box, or bag, for things like batteries that you can then take once a month to PnP or Woolies.

Batteries, globes, printer ink cartridges and plastic bags can be dropped off at PnP or Woolworths
Batteries, globes, printer ink cartridges and plastic bags can be dropped off at PnP or Woolworths

I have been doing paper for a while, because we get the Mondi recycling bags, and in the last few months, plastic bottles, but nothing else.

What do you recycle? I would like to try and begin recycling one new thing as a way to help decrease pollution. Who is with me?

Let me know in the comments, what you have chosen to recycle. Let’s all begin to make a difference.

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