The top 10 plastic pollutants in South Africa have been announced by The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), with plastic shopping bags taking first place in the rankings.

Plastic is a non-biodegradable product that drastically harms the environment. A large portion of plastic waste finds its way into the ocean and wreaks havoc on the marine life, killing turtles and other sea creatures.

Burning of plastic items releases poisonous chemicals into the air and can cause respiratory problems in humans.

According to WWF eight-million tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean each year and South Africa is ranked as the 11th overall offender in the world when it comes to releasing plastic waste into the ocean.

Research carried out by WWF revealed that the amount of litter washing up in Table Bay tripled from 1994 to 2001.

Head of WWF’s South African Marine Program, John Duncan, shares that recycling is not going to solve the current plastic pollution crisis.

“Although South Africa has a growing recycling sector, the reality is that due to poor economic returns or the non-recyclability of a number of types of plastics, a large percentage of the plastic that you use will never be recycled, even if you put it in your recycling bin. A better place for you to start is perhaps to take a minute to think about whether we need some of the problem plastics to start with,” said Duncan.

Here are the top 10 plastic pollutants in South Africa 

The main culprit is plastic bags with coffee cups and lids close behind.

Opting for alternatives such as a reusable coffee cup, steel or paper straws and glass containers contribute to alleviating the impact of plastic pollution.

Visit these plastic-free grocers in the Cape for a plastic-free shopping experience. 

WWF/ Meet South Africa’s Top 10 Plastic Offenders


Picture: Twitter/ Alex Radlinger/Zero Waste Journey Cape Town

Article written by

Ishani Chetty

Ishani is a vegetarian who is passionate about social issues, the environment and current affairs.