Environmental Affairs calls on South Africans to participate in National Clean-Up and Recycle Week

12 September 2018

The Department of Environmental Affairs has called on all South Africans to take responsibility for keeping their communities and natural environment free of litter – as well as to reduce, recover, re-use and recycle their waste.

South Africa marks National Clean-up Week from 10-16 September 2018, with National Recycling Day falling on the 15th of September 2018.

Clean-Up Week is an annual initiative by the local plastics industry, supported and endorsed by the various packaging and retail streams and retailers.

Every year, close to 120 000 volunteers participate in a range of clean-up activities that take place along roadsides, rivers, schools, residential and illegal dumping sites. The initiative is supported by provincial governments, local municipalities, environmental organisations, businesses, schools and communities.

This week’s activities will culminate in the International Coastal Clean-up Day, galvanising members of the public, government and non-governmental organisations to take action against marine pollution.

We can only have a cleaner, greener South Africa if each individual changes their behaviour towards not just littering, but also towards waste itself – because it has value if it is recovered and recycled efficiently.

Approximately 10.8% of South African households sort their refuse for recycling; despite waste management practices having improved amongst the general population. All provinces have some level of formal recycling practices linked to waste management at a residential level.

This figure, although representing progress, needs to improve, with more households, businesses and industries recovering and recycling their waste.

According to Statistics South Africa (StatsSA, 2018), waste recycling was most common in provinces with the largest urban populations and least common in the most rural provinces.

Whilst 20, 3% of urban households in the Western Cape, and 12, 7% of urban households in Gauteng sorted waste for recycling, only 1, 2% of urban households in Limpopo recycled waste. Below is an indication of sorting of waste at household per province:

Western Cape: 20.3%
Gauteng: 12.7%
North West: 8.3%
Mpumalanga: 8.1%
KwaZulu-Natal: 6.2%
Free State: 5.1%
Northern Cape: 5.1%
Eastern Cape: 4.8%
Limpopo: 1.2%

Recycling has not only been expanded as an environmentally-focused activity, but also a fully-fledged business sector that provides much needed jobs while contributing to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

South Africa is committed to advancing the principles of circular economy; and continues to register notable progress in both dealing with wasteful patterns of production and consumption, as well as bringing new entrants into the waste economy space.

One such initiative is the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Recycling Enterprise Support Programme (RESP).

The primary objective of this programme is to provide developmental funding for projects in the form of start-up grants. These projects are either start-up or pre-existing enterprises such as Buy-Back Centres, Material Recovery Facilities, Construction & Demolishing solutions and plastic palletisation plants - in line with the Operation Phakisa (Waste) initiatives.

The programme has been allocated a budget R 194 million over a three-year period and has already had a positive impact on 12 black-owned business enterprises.

Access the lists of clean-up and recycle activities with contact details of provincial coordinators  

For media queries contact:
Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871