by Urban Sprout on 26/02/09 at 1:56 pm
Say the word ‘recycle’ and people immediately start thinking containers. It’s actually quite amusing – we get roughly one email a week from someone who’s drawn the short straw and been assigned the title of ‘mr/ms recycle’ at work and the first thing they’re after is the receptacle for the recycling.
But first, a quick word on the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra: most of us give little attention to the first two adjectives and move straight to the third, which can arguably be seen as nothing short of a giant placebo that makes us feel good, but is only part of the solution.
Reducing the amount of plastic, tin and glass everyone brings into the office is a good place to start. Buy in bulk, re-use stuff you have bought for other functions (pot plants in old tins, re-use your eco-friendly washing up liquid container and get refills in bulk, reuse envelopes and packaging, print on both sides of the paper etc.)
And for those things you have to buy (milk, coffee, sugar), avoid buying anything that is over-wrapped, over-merchandised and presented in something you cannot recycle (this involves squinting at the base of all plastic purchases to try and read their recycling logos and only succumbing to those that can be recycled by the company collecting your recycling or the drop off depot you use – makes for interesting shopping).
For a quick look at what recycling logos to look out for, read our Green Your Recycling Guide.
A good-size cardboard box will do as a receptacle – the kind usually used by moving companies. They’re a good size, they’re fairly durable, and they’re recyclable. But if you must have something a little more attractive or you need something gargantuan to cope with the levels of recycling, then try companies like Postwink – who provide igloo-type recycling banks made from polyethylene (it’s recyclable, but is still plastic). They also do stainless steel cabinets and wheelie bins
It’s not that difficult to get all the office paper, cardboard, tins, plastic, glass, and even e-waste sorted. You’ll need roughly four containers (you could combine the paper and cardboard):
Paper – white office paper, envelopes, accounts, junk mail, newspapers, magazines, calendars, phone books, till slips, wrapping paper
Cardboard – cereal boxes, egg boxes, toilet paper inners, cardboard boxes, tissue boxes, cards
Plastic – soft drink bottles, water bottles, food containers such as cooking oil, yoghurt, margarine, peanut butter jars, cleaning agent containers, plastic bags, bottle caps, some plastic toys etc. (check the base, it is easiest to recycle numbers 1 & 2, though some drop off depots also take number 5 and tetrapak; very few, if any, take numbers 3 & 7 and if it doesn’t have a number, it probably can’t be recycled)
Glass and tin – drink cans, oil cans, food tins, foil food containers, bottle tops, paint tins, glass jars, bottles (you can’t recycle broken glasses or bottles)
Get it collected
Recycling is much easier if you hire someone to collect it all for you, of course, and there are companies in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The likes of Abundance Recycling and Mr Recycle in the Western Cape, and Resolution Recycling , Mama She’s Waste and Whole Earth in Gauteng, have become more and more popular with businesses. Search urban sprout’s directory for contact details in the Western Cape and Gauteng.
eWaste is a little more contentious. It includes computers, entertainment electronics, household appliances and mobile phones and is highly toxic if disposed of incorrectly. Recycling ewaste is also expensive. Add to this the fact that South Africa has no legal framework yet to deal specifically with ewaste, so there are no laws that govern what goes into the products we make. Still, there are ways in which to dispose of it safely. Have a look at eWASA, particularly the collection points.
Going the extra mile to recycle them, rather than just turfing them, is made that much easier by companies such as African Sky , Computer Scrap Recycling and Virgin Earth – see our recycling guide for further contact details.
For more on recycling and who to contact see our green guide.
www.urbansprout.co.za exposes the impact of consumptive, frenzied lifestyles and outlines simple ways in which we can change for the better. The award-winning green blog highlights sustainable alternatives in a directory full of eco-friendly and organic options. Read about: renewable energy, climate change, organic food, genetic modification, sustainable building, recycling, peak oil, ethical money systems, fairtrade, consumer activism, and permaculture. Embrace a shift in consciousness to a one planet lifestyle! View more articles by Urban Sprout.
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