Pick paper for your presents and recycle it for your future

The day after Christmas, generally referred to as Boxing Day, was historically reserved for clearing out unused or unwanted items. These items were given out to the less fortunate in boxes. It is also a day when you will see cardboard boxes and wrapping paper piled high among the household refuse.

Despite increased awareness, large amounts of recoverable paper and board packaging are still unnecessarily dumped in landfill sites. According to the Paper Recycling Association of South Africa (PRASA), only 5% of homes actively recycle their paper and board.

Paper, one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable products, is made from farmed trees, just as your bread or cereal is made from farmed wheat or corn.

In South Africa, 600 million trees across 762,000 hectares are specifically grown for use in pulp and paper manufacture and the industry plants in excess of 260,000 trees every single day. South Africa’s timber plantations, which cater for pulp and paper, furniture and other wood based-products, lock up 900 million tons of carbon dioxide and release life-giving oxygen through the natural process of photosynthesis.

Because trees, wood and paper products store carbon as solid matter, paper recycling is one of the simplest ways that we can green our future as we can help keep this carbon out of the atmosphere for longer.

“If we do not recycle, paper will rot among other rubbish and emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, which is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide,” says Ursula Henneberry, operations director for PRASA.

Did you know?

  • A tonne of recycled paper can save up to three cubic metres of landfill space and subsequently reduce transport costs for local municipalities.
  • By recycling paper, milk and juice cartons, glass, aluminium and plastic, we contribute to less pollution and litter, and create a healthier, greener and cleaner society.
  • Paper can be recycled up to seven times. Some virgin or new wood fibre is required to make recycled paper possible in the first place and is always needed to keep the global fibre cycle going.
  • Recycling creates jobs for many in the informal and formal sector.

Top tips for aspiring recyclers

  • Do your research and find out which companies collect paper in your area. Visit www.mywaste.co.za for these details.
  • Do not mix your paper with other recyclables.
  • Do not let your paper get wet or soiled by other rubbish. Keep it under cover or in a closed plastic container.
  • Get to know what is recyclable and what is not. The following paper types cannot be recycled:
    • Foil gift wrapping and foil lined boxes
    • Wax coated or laminated boxes such as frozen food boxes
    • Empty cement and dog food bags
    • Disposable nappies
    • Carbon paper
    • Sticky notes

For more information about paper recycling, visit www.prasa.co.za, www.mywaste.co.za or www.thepaperstory.co.za.