According to a waste information baseline study that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) conducted in 2011, approximately 108 million tonnes of waste is generated annually, of which 97 million tonnes is disposed to landfill. The contribution by packaging to landfill waste is estimated to be around 35%.
Through PRASA, the paper sector is very active in driving waste minimisation efforts and increasing paper recovery rates. As a recycling rate increases so each tonne becomes more expensive to collect due to diminishing availability of recycled fibre. Over the past five years, PRASA has reported a steady increase in the paper recovery rate of recoverable products. PRASA attributes this success to the focus on knowledge transfer, skills development, education and awareness made possible through the grants approved by the FP&M Seta. Recovery rates of pre-consumer recyclable paper sit at a healthy 85% average. The need for improvement lies in post-consumer waste paper collection from households, schools and businesses. The aim of the plan is to elevate separation at source from households, not only to minimise the amount of waste going to landfills but also to unlock the economic potential of waste streams.