SA’s paper recycling rate rises to 68.4%


South Africa successfully diverted 1.4 million tonnes of recyclable paper and paper packaging from landfill in 2016. This is equivalent to the weight of 280 000 adult African elephants or would cover 254 soccer fields. Grahamstown residents and businesses have five local options for being environmentally responsible with paper and other materials – and reducing the litter problem to boot!

The Paper Recycling Association of South Africa (PRASA) confirms that the annual paper recovery rate has sustained 2% year-on-year growth since 2012 and now stands at 68.4%[i].

“This surpasses the global average of 58%[ii],” says PRASA operations director Ursula Henneberry, adding that recovered paper – the paper and cardboard put in our recycling bins – is a valuable raw material that South African manufacturers have been using as an alternative fibre since 1920.

“Despite this, newspapers, magazines, office paper, cardboard boxes, paper cups, milk and juice cartons still go to landfill,” says Henneberry.

Waste less, care more

Around 11% of people claim to recycle all the time[iii]. “Everyone uses paper products, so we should all be recyclers. It’s just the right thing to do.”

It’s good for the environment: recycling reduces waste and saves landfill space; it reduces unnecessary emissions and encourages a waste-conscious lifestyle. It’s good for our economy too, as it provides an income stream for street collectors and keeps paper recycling operations in business with a clean and good quality raw material to make the products we use daily. From street collectors to the people employed in the sector, paper recycling creates meaningful employment for around 37 000 people.

Recycling is as easy as 1-2-3

While it may seem cumbersome at first, it only takes a little effort to develop ‘good garbage habits’. PRASA shares three important tips:

  • Keep paper separate from wet waste – get a bin or box for paper and keep it in a convenient spot.
  • Get to know your recyclables – copy paper, magazines, flyers and newspapers; cereal, medicine and egg boxes, cardboard boxes and juice and milk cartons are all recyclable.
  • Have it collected or drop it off – support a collector, sign-up to a collection programme or find a drop-off point near you. Visit and click on the MyWaste widget on the home page.
  • For more information about paper and its role in our lives, the environment and economy visit

Rhodes University’s guide to recycling in Grahamstown

  • GHT movers: 20 New Street. More info: Pieter Burger 083 226 9654, ghtholdings(at)
  • Grahamstown Recycling: 13 Scholand Street (industrial area). More info: Chris Smith 082 657 4719, chris.recycle(at) .
  • Masahlule Recycling Business & IWARS: Has Buy-Back Centres in Grahamstown, Port Alfred and Kenton, and retrieves some recyclables at Makana landfill site. More info: Simpiwe 076 582 1541, Mark 081 792 3884, Robyn 072 488 6846, robyncock(at), or visit IWARS.
  • Metal Master: 2 Cloncore St (near Metro Cash & Carry), Grahamstown. More info: Butch Richardson, 082 932 6844 / 046 622 3249 / butch(at) or wanstonfield(at)
  • Recyc Ght: Drop at corner Jarvis Street and Orsmond Terrace, or call to collect for free. More info: Len Bodill, 078 661 9451, recycght(at)
  • The above information is taken directly from Rhodes University’s Environment Resources page: Find more information at
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