South Africans have begun steadily making the shift towards living a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle – more locals are becoming vegetarians or vegans, cutting their plastic use down, and re-using and recycling as much as possible.
Recently, the SA Plastics Pact was set up, and is spearheaded by the World Wide Fund for Nature. Partners for the Pact include the City of Cape Town, the National Department of Environmental Affairs as well as the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO), and international partner Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
The pact aims to change the way plastic products and packaging are designed, used and reused to prevent plastics from ending up in the environment, and sets out some ambitious targets to be met by 2025, including:
– 100% of plastic packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable (in a closed-loop system)
– 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled
– 30% average post-consumer recycled content across all plastic packaging
“The City of Cape Town is delighted to become the first municipality not just in the country, but worldwide to pledge its support,” City’s Mayco Member for Water and Waste, Xanthea Limberg.
The first target, however, is to define a list of problematic/unnecessary plastic packaging and products and agree on measures to address these as a top priority. This will be effected through a coordinated effort led by a steering committee comprised of the pact’s founding members and GreenCape, the pact’s newly appointed administration office.
“The City’s role, as a supporting member, is to contribute to the development of solutions, amplify anti-plastic messages and cascade best practice. While the City can’t in its own capacity make commitments towards achieving the pact’s targets, it fully supports the initiative and its embedded principles. Goals, however, will not be achieved without collaborative industry action,” she added.
“It’s encouraging to see the growing shift towards more sustainable consumer choices globally, with society generally becoming more aware of the environmentally damaging effects of single-use plastics and excessive packaging. The SA Plastics Pact marks an important step closer to seeing greater success in this space locally, and the City is looking forward to playing its part in realising the goals contained in it,” Limberg added.
Globally, the sentiment is that we need to move towards a circular economy for plastics. We can no longer take, make and dispose of plastic. There is an urgent need to keep plastic in the economy and out of the natural environment. It’s a huge challenge globally, but if all stakeholders collaborate and work towards achieving the targets, we can tackle it and eventually win the war,” said Councillor Nicky Rheeder. “In order to meet this goal there is a need for innovative ideas that will help to unlock barriers to circularity, and stimulate new business and job creation opportunities. The SA Plastic Pact provides this positive platform and opportunity for this innovation, dialogue, and collaboration.”
According to Limberg, there needs to be common national targets and action to actively address the plastic problem.
The pact, a first for Africa, joins the global Plastics Pact Network, coordinated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, with existing members from Chile, France, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Its founding members include the majority of the largest retailers, as well as a number of key brand-owners, manufacturers and recycling companies in South Africa.