We have a wonderful world full of natural beauty and precious wildlife. And yet the undeniable truth is that our oceans are becoming more polluted, our streets are littered with more rubbish and our landfills are overflowing. To stop this, we have launched a war on waste.
To win this war, we need to realise the value of this waste, the value of plastic waste. Waste is a worldwide issue, but the world needs to know that plastic waste has value. If we can realise that much, maybe we wouldn’t throw it away.
You see, plastic has a sort of supernatural quality – reincarnation. That forgotten plastic bucket hidden in the corner of your garage or that array of plastic bottles. In the right hands, they are coming back as a pair of stylish jeans, takkies, a kid’s toy, or a shoulder bag even. Plastic can be recycled, reborn, and used to make a whole new product that has a value beyond its normal lifespan.
To this point, it is important to recognise some of our entrepreneurs in South Africa, the waste reclaimers. They see a mountain of waste as a business opportunity. These guys don’t need to be told that plastic has value. In July this year, a 50-strong group of waste pickers calling themselves the Urban Surfers covered 20 thousand kilometres and collected seven hundred thousand kilograms of recyclable plastics. They not only generated an income for themselves, but they also stopped waste from becoming pollution. The recyclable plastic was valued at 1.4 million Rand. That’s not small change. And if everyone realised that plastic has value, it wouldn’t be a small change for our planet either.
Plastic doesn’t belong on our streets, it doesn’t belong in our oceans, in fact, it doesn’t even belong in overflowing rubbish bins. Plastic has value, and it needs to go to recycling plants to go on to make new products, reducing waste, and reducing our carbon footprint.
Yes, we want to start a war on waste. But we realise that this begins with a conversation. It begins with reframing what plastic means to the world and realising that it needn’t become waste, because that plastic waste has a value – a value that is unmatched by most other materials.
Plastic is one of the most sustainable products there is, from production, through to recycling, through to reuse.
Join our war on waste, understand the value of plastic, and practice recycling re-use, and re-purposing. But whatever you do – don’t let a wonderful world go to waste.