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South Africa’s paper recycling rate rises to 68.4%

South Africa successfully diverted 1.4 million tonnes of recyclable paper and paper packaging from landfill in 2016. This is equivalent to the weight of 280,000 adult African elephants or would cover 254 soccer fields.

The Paper Recycling Association of South Africa (PRASA) confirms that the annual paper recovery rate has sustained 2% year-on-year growth since 2012 and now stands at 68.4%.

“This surpasses the global average of 58%,” says PRASA operations director Ursula Henneberry, adding that recovered paper – the paper and cardboard put in our recycling bins – is a valuable raw material that South African manufacturers have been using as an alternative fibre since 1920.

“Despite this, newspapers, magazines, office paper, cardboard boxes, paper cups, milk and juice cartons still go to landfill,” says Henneberry.

Waste less, care more
Around 11% of people claim to recycle all the time. “Everyone uses paper products, so we should all be recyclers. It’s just the right thing to do.”

It’s good for the environment. It saves landfill space, reduces unnecessary emissions and encourages a waste-conscious lifestyle.

It’s good for our economy too, as it provides an income stream for street collectors and keeps paper recycling operations in business with a clean and good quality raw material to make the products we use daily.

From street collectors to the people employed in the sector, paper recycling creates meaningful employment for around 37,000 people.

Recycling is as easy as 1-2-3
While it may seem cumbersome at first, it only takes a little effort to develop ‘good garbage habits’. PRASA shares three important tips:

  1. Keep paper separate from wet waste – get a bin or box for paper and keep it in a convenient spot.

  2. Get to know your recyclables – copy paper, magazines, flyers and newspapers; cereal, medicine and egg boxes, cardboard boxes and juice and milk cartons are all recyclable.

  3. Have it collected or drop it off – support a collector, sign-up to a collection programme or find a drop-off point near you. Visit and click on the MyWaste widget on the home page.