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More than 200 volunteers are expected to gather in central Johannesburg on Sunday 17 September to take part in the Joburg City Clean-Up, an initiative focused on cleaning up the City whilst raising awareness around the volume and impact of litter in the City, and educating the public on the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling.

PETCO, the PET Plastic Recycling Company, will provide bags and gloves for the City Clean-Up and, in partnership with Extrupet, will donate school desks made out of recycled plastic to a local school.

“PETCO is thrilled to be supporting the Joburg City Clean-up,” says Cheri Scholtz, PETCO’s CEO. “We believe clean-ups have an important role to play in shifting South Africa away from a ‘take-make-dispose’ system to a circular economy by ensuring that valuable resources, such as PET plastic bottles, are diverted from landfill and collected for recycling.”

Chandru Wadhwani, Joint Managing Director for Extrupet and PETCO Board Director, adds “These types of initiatives allow for us to move off the side-lines and into the thick of consumer and civic responsibility. Plastic touches us all, whether directly or indirectly, and it is imperative that we come together to be part of true sustainability when the opportunity (such as this clean-up) presents itself.”

PET plastic bottle recycling in South Africa is doing well and compares favourably with international PET recycling rates – a 55% recycling rate was reached in 2016, which means a total of 2 billion bottles were collected for recycling. However, while recycling is becoming more mainstream, Scholtz believes society as a whole needs to undergo a surge in reuse and recycling behaviour.

Baseline consumer research commissioned by PETCO at the end of 2016 which profiles attitudes towards recycling in South Africa show that only 11% of the South Africans interviewed claim to recycle ‘all’ of the time.

Despite this, Wadhwani remains optimistic. “The long-standing relationship between PETCO and Extrupet provides a powerful platform for us to grow end-use markets for good quality post-consumer PET bottles, thereby growing recycling and ensuring a future where there are no longer any post-consumer PET bottles in the waste stream.”

“It’s important for all South Africans to participate in recycling activities, such as clean-ups, when they can. By having more people active in the recycling movement, more recyclables like PET bottles will be collected – creating jobs and saving landfill space and carbon emissions in the process – and recycled into jeans and t-shirts, or duvets and pillows, or even into new bottles,” concludes Scholtz.

For more information about the Joburg City Clean-up, see www.joburg10k.com/joburg-clean-up. The clean-up kicks off Clean Up and Recycle SA Week, an annual initiative by the local plastics industry. IMPI-SECURE will provide security and Wasteplan will collect, sort and ensure all recyclables are sent for recycling.