The drought has had some serious side effects on the City of Cape Town, but one unforeseen problem is the massive surge in plastic waste generated by increased bottled water sales.
Woolworths, one of South Africa’s top retailers, has stepped in and offered to take 500 000 plastic bottles from Cape Town to be recycled at a facility in Gauteng.
Since the announcement of stricter water restrictions in February, Capetonians have taken to stocking up on bottled water water as many of the local major dams are perilously close to running dry in recent months. Many residents also prefer to consume bottled water only due to discoloration and concerns regarding the quality of drinking water.
Woolworths Holdings group’s head of sustainability, Feroz Koor, said that Woolworths realised that increased bottled water sales in Cape Town would put additional pressure on local recycling facilities.
The South African National Bottled Water Association and the PET Recycling Company (PETCo) confirmed this and entered a partnership with Woolworths. The retailer offered to cover the cost of the transportation of the plastic bottles to Extrupet’s Gauteng recycling facility.
The joint managing director of Extrupet and PETCo board member, Chandru Wadhwani, said the support from Woolworths is welcomed, as 500 000 plastic bottles equate to approximately fifteen metric tonnes. The recycled plastic water bottles will be turned into Woolworths Food packaging.
The Radisson Blu hotel in Cape Town’s Waterfront has also announced that it will now longer make use of plastic straws in its operation. In future, it will only make use of biodegradable straws.
The hotel also is planning other more environmentally sustainable strategies which will see it taking ground-breaking initiatives to reduce water usage and consumption. This includes becoming the first hotel in Cape Town to use seawater in their swimming pool.