Each year during the month of July, people across the globe are encouraged to take part in “Plastic Free July” – an international movement that encourages people to stop using plastic in order to achieve clean streets, neighbourhoods, water sources and oceans.
The reality is that “zero plastic” doesn’t necessarily mean zero litter – the country’s waste is at a high risk of leaking into the environment, primarily due to the mismanagement of waste.
“Unmanaged pollution due to inadequate waste management infrastructure is the root cause of our litter crisis. 34 % of households in South Africa have no formal waste collection[i]. It is therefore illogical and naive to think that we’ll have cleaner communities because the straw carelessly tossed out of the car window was made from paper instead of plastic. Whilst we wholeheartedly agree that we need to eliminate all unnecessary packaging (regardless of the material) and reuse where possible, it is important that we take an evidence based approach to ensure we do not replace existing, fit-for-purpose packaging with more harmful alternatives,” advocates Anton Hanekom, Executive Director of Plastics SA.