New research finds that major South African brands are meeting targets for the collection and recycling of plastic packaging from their products.

PETCO, a producer responsibility organisation in the country, has published the data taken from its 2022 collection and recycling rates for the products its members have registered with the organisation, comprising mainly PET bottles, jars and their labels and closures.

These members include Pick n Pay, Woolworths, Unilever, Tiger Brands, The Beverage Company, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and others.

In 2022, PETCO members placed 121,369t of packaging on the South African market, mainly comprising PET beverage bottles, home and personal care bottles, edible oil bottles, food bottles and jars. It also included their associated labels, closures and minor volumes of PET strapping, shrink sleeves and thermoforms.

Of this volume, 69%, or 83,967t of post-consumer packaging, was collected for recycling, with a total recycling rate of 66% achieved.

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The recycling rates come one year after the promulgation of the Section 18 amendment to the National Environmental Management: Waste Act.

Outlining now-mandatory extended producer responsibility (EPR), the regulations require packaging producers – brand owners, retailers and importers – to comply with stipulated annual targets for the improved design, collection and recycling of post-consumer product packaging in a bid to move the country towards a more circular economy.

The data also reveals that PETCO helped its members surpass Year 1 government targets for collecting:

  • PET beverage bottles
  • plastic PET oil bottles
  • single-use PET products – covering home, food and personal care
  • polyolefin rigids

This year, PETCO also introduced an EPR scheme for liquid board packaging (LBP), which will be included in the reporting for Year 2.

PETCO CEO Cheri Scholtz said she was proud of the organisation’s role in driving change across the packaging value chain towards a circular economy in which “packaging can be repurposed back into packaging”.

Recycling is clearly a growing practice in South Africa, as packaging and recycling company ALPLA recently announced its plans to build a new polyethene terephthalate (PET) recycling plant in the country.