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South Africa is fast running out of landfill space and more than 80% of waste that could be recycled ends up in landfill sites. The possibility of finding space for more landfills away from the urban areas is getting smaller and smaller. In 2016, three landfill sites were closed in Pretoria but these are sites were meant to have 25 years more on their lifespan. But, on a positive note, packaging group, Mpact, says that South Africans are slowly moving towards becoming responsible recyclers. The Paper Recycling Association of SA recorded that the annual paper recovery rate has increased by 2% every year since 2012 and is currently at 68.4%. PET Recycling Company (Petco) reported that plastic bottle recycled tonnage has increased more than enormously since 2005.

Mpact released a media statement saying, "These figures point to a growing awareness of recycling, but more importantly, they show that South Africans are taking action and making a concerted effort to do the right thing." The recycling industry also has the potential to create job opportunities for the large sector of South Africans that are unemployed, and so far, "Recycling has helped create work opportunities for more than 100,000 people, according to the Paper Recycling Association."

Even so, only 10% of South Africa's waste is actually being recycled and, since this is fast becoming a big problem, South Africa is now aiming for 20% waste division by 2019, so that a fifth of our waste will be sorted at recycling plants and repurposed. As of Sunday, 1 July 2018, Johannesburg residents will be required to separate their waste prior to collection. This mandatory requirement began as a trial in Norwood, Lenasia and Midrand residential areas and Nico de Jager, the City of Johannesburg’s MMC for Environmental Affairs, explains why it's so vital the initiative is implemented now.

"We are running out of landfill space, we have only six years of landfill space left, so this is something that we need to roll out and we need to take very seriously." The government will be providing each household with colour coded packets, allowing residents to sort their waste into plastic containers, milk containers, household detergents and then paper –newspapers, bills, and magazines. Glass and metal, like cool drink tins, will also have its own packet. The colour codes will work as follows: blue for glass and plastic, and green for bio-degradable waste. This is not an optional exercise and, while residents won't be fined immediately for failing to comply, penalties will be dished out once the project is in full force.

From the 1st of July, the Department of Environmental Affairs is hoping to collect 13 kg of recyclable items from every household every month. 

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