It is estimated that only 8% of businesses recycle their used paper and board. And even the most well-intentioned recyclers make mistakes The Paper Recycling Association of South Africa (PRASA) outlines some of the more common recycling blunders.
Mistake 1: Putting non-recyclable paper products into the recycling bin
Even though they are made of paper, a number of items are not suitable for recycling: dirty paper plates, cigarette butts, tissue and toilet paper, paper towel, sticky notes, carbon paper, foil-lined, wax-coated and laminated papers, cement and dog food bags.
These items cannot be recycled owing to the contamination or non-recyclability of certain elements or ‘stickies’ like waxes, foils, laminates and glues.
Mistake 2: Food contamination
Cigarette butts and soiled take-away containers contaminate the paper and reduce its value. Paper also starts to degrade once wet.
Set-up a two-bin system – receptacles for paper recycling and bins for food, liquid and non-recyclable waste with clear and simple messaging and graphics.
Contact one of PRASA’s members about paper recycling boxes: Mpact Recycling, Sappi ReFibre and Neopak Recycling.
Mistake 3: Making it difficult to recycle
We are all human. Nobody likes to walk too far to throw something away.
- Ensure that each desk is equipped with a tray or office recycler solely for paper and board.
- Install paper recycling receptacles in key locations:
- At each desk
- At each printing/copying station
- In meeting and break rooms, and kitchen areas
- In reception
- For every paper recycling bin, there should be a general waste bin alongside it.
A study showed that paper recycling rose from 28% with one bin per office to 94% when paper trays were located on desks.
Mistake 4: Not knowing what to do with your recyclables
Your office has collected all this paper, but now what? After a while, it all often ends up in the general rubbish.
- Assign a sheltered area in which to keep recycled paper clean and dry.
- Where possible, keep office paper (mainly white bond paper) separate from newspapers and magazines and cardboard boxes.
- Partner with a recycling collection agent that meets your needs – this could be a service offered by a big company, a smaller business or an informal collector who can benefit from your paper collection.
- Visit www.mywaste.co.za for collection programmes or buy-back centres in your area.
- Support a local school or charity’s recycling fundraising initiatives (eg, the Ronnie Recycler programme).
- Visit www.recyclepaper.co.za for a list of its members.
Other ways to boost your company’s recycling efforts
- Appoint a recycling champion who is able to drive and monitor the programme.
- Ensure that cleaning teams are trained and incentivised to maintain the programme. Include and thank them in the communications.
- It makes sense in a larger office park to centralise the collection area so that larger quantities are accumulated faster.
- Staff can also be encouraged to bring waste paper from home if the storage area is big enough.
- With a paper recovery rate of 64%, South Africa has been trending upwards towards a goal of 70% by 2020 for the past few years.
- Magazines and brochures, including glossy varieties
- Office and shredded paper, envelopes
- Cardboard boxes of any kind – dry food, cosmetic and medicine boxes; roll cores, packing cartons (flattened)
- Old telephone directories and books
- Paper giftwrap
- Milk, beverage and food cartons (such as Tetra Pak and SIG Combibloc liquid packaging)
- Wet or dirty paper and cardboard
- Used paper plates, disposable nappies, tissues and toilet paper
- Wax-coated, foil-lined or laminated boxes
- Cement and dog food bags
- Foil gift wrapping, carbon and laminated paper