The SA Plastics Pact, as part of ongoing work towards the fulfillment of Target 1 by 2025, has published the phase 1 list of problematic and unnecessary plastics for phasing out by members. SA Plastics Pact members have committed to phasing out the 12 plastic items listed, by the end of 2021.
South Africa generates 2.4 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, equivalent to 41 kg/capita/year, which is above the 29 kg/capita/year global average. Out of this only 14% is recycled and around 40% of this waste is mismanaged, with 3% directly leaking into the environment. This means that on average, every citizen leaks at least 1.4kg of plastic to the environment per year.
This leakage of waste into the environment is mostly composed of small plastic items, as well as plastic packaging, which are common sights around communities and cities, in rivers, and on beaches. There are different causes for this leakage, including the lack of available collection services, citizen behaviour and, in some cases, the non-recyclability of the plastic packaging and items. For those packaging and items that are technically recyclable, but not yet recycled in large amounts, the solution may be focused on improving collection and citizen engagement. However, for those that are not technically or economically recyclable in practice, we need to rethink their design and delivery model, to reduce the negative impacts of waste plastic.
As a result, the members of the SA Plastics Pact decided to identify and prioritise small plastic items and packaging that are not recycled in practice, whether technically not recyclable or recycled in very small volumes, in South Africa and have alternatives available, for members to remove from circulation over the next two years.
To this end, the Phase 1 list has now been determined and published in a report titled “Addressing problematic and unnecessary plastics”. Members have committed to phasing out these plastic items by the end of 2021.