Paper, Printing and Packaging


In many respects, the paper and packaging sector is more advanced than most in terms of its waste management. To some extent, this is because the materials involved are, often, less hazardous than those of other industries. Also, the sector has been under close scrutiny by the public for several decades, simply because packaging waste streams pass through the hands of the general public at some stage.

Mostly, the industry’s good track record is a result of its having accepted the waste management challenges confronting it and being innovative in finding solutions.

There are, nonetheless, some major obstacles still to be addressed within the industry. These are related to legislation required to enforce waste management standards across the sector and also to involve the public to a much greater extent in recycling and recovery processes.

For instance, better sorting methods at collection points, particularly households, would reduce waste management costs by providing a higher level of uncontaminated waste for the recycling industry.

It would also create jobs for people needed to collect recyclables from households and take the material to a different location for further separation.

However, most municipalities simply don’t have the regulations in place to compel households to separate their waste into recyclable and other waste streams.

That said, the paper and packaging industries have made great strides in implementing the first three elements of the waste management hierarchy as delineated in the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, No 59 of 2008. Avoiding the creation of waste, reducing the amount of waste generated, and reusing, recycling, and recovering waste that is created before sending it to a landfill site have all been improved.

Some 30% of plastics and packaging waste is being diverted from landfills. Of the millions of tons of new paper and packaging released on to the South African market annually. 

Including imports comprising empty packaging and pre-packaged foods, the industry is consistently recycling up to 50%.

The initiatives achieving all this include can collection and paper, PET bottle and products, glass, and aluminium recycling. With the introduction of the all-aluminium beverage can in 2013, the weight of metal beverage cans has been reduced by 80%.

However, based on our more than 38 years in waste management across all industries, including paper and packaging, we know that there is always something more one can do to manage waste more effectively and, thereby, either create operational savings or trigger new revenue streams.

For instance, trends in green building are creating markets for cellulose as a building insulator and for recycled plastic as a paving material that allows rain to soak away into ground water instead of running off into streets, where it must be cleaned and treated. 

Some recycled plastic is being used for wood look-a-like decking.

When it comes to material that simply cannot be repurposed, there are new options for outsourcing waste management from your own premises to companies like ours, where our economies of scale will benefit your bottom line and our investment in equipment positions us to be more efficient than you can afford to be.

If you feel that you can improve your waste management in spite of delays in legislation and public inertia, you might find a discussion with our advisors insightful.

If you would like to find out what options are available for your organisation, please contact our Customer Care Line on 0800 192 783 for South African enquiries and click here for the contact details for enquiries across Sub-Saharan Africa​.