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SA Plastics Pact signed, 2025 targets set for circular economy

Developed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-SA), in partnership with the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO) and the UK's WRAP, the SA Plastics Pact was launched late last month. It will join France, the UK, the Netherlands and Chile, in the exchange of knowledge and to collaborate on accelerating the transition to a circular economy for plastic.
SA Plastics Pact signed, 2025 targets set for circular economy

The SA Plastics Pact will be managed and delivered by GreenCape, with the founding members committed to a series of ambitious targets for 2025 to prevent plastics from becoming waste or pollution. South Africa is the latest to join The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Plastics Pact global network, aligned with its New Plastics Economy vision.

Founding members

The SA Plastics Pact founding members are the Clicks Group, Coca-Cola Africa, Danone, Distell, HomeChoice, Massmart, Myplas, Nampak Rigids, Pick n Pay, Polyoak, Polyplank, Shoprite Group, SPAR, Spur Corporation, TFG, Tigerbrands, Tuffy, Unilever, ADDIS, Waste Plan and Woolworths. Other organisations include Fruit South Africa, SAPRO, the Polyolefin Responsibility Organisation, the Polystyrene Association of South Africa, the PET Recycling Company, the Southern African Vinyls Association, the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa, the National Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and the City of Cape Town.

Busisiwe Khumalo, Danone corporate communications officer, signing the pact.
Busisiwe Khumalo, Danone corporate communications officer, signing the pact.

“The SA Plastics Pact has the advantage of working with an established recycling sector but there are challenges. We’ll need to focus on smarter packaging design, alternative delivery models and ways to increase the value of materials. Through the SA Plastics Pact, we can support the development of a secondary resource or ‘circular economy’ in South Africa which will drive investment in infrastructure, support livelihoods and keep our environment free of plastic pollution. We applaud the South African Plastics Pact signatories who are pioneers in taking the first step towards establishing a circular plastics economy nationally and in the region," says Lorren de Kock, WWF-SA project manager: circular plastics economy.

By 2025, all members commit to:

  • Take action on problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (re-use) delivery models;
  • 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable*;
  • 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled; and
  • 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging.

In order to achieve these 2025 targets for a circular economy for plastic in South Africa, various activities are required. Some plastic items are problematic or unnecessary and need to be designed out. Reuse models can reduce the need for single-use packaging, while at the same time hold the potential for significant user and business benefits. All plastics need to be designed to be reusable, recyclable or compostable in practice and at scale, with a concerted effort on both the design, and the after-use side.

*In the case of compostables, this is applicable only in closed loop and controlled systems with sufficient infrastructure available or fit for purpose applications.

By delivering on these targets, the SA Plastics Pact aims to help boost job creation in the South African plastics collection and recycling sector, and help to create new opportunities in product design and reuse business models. Following the launch, GreenCape, with the support of WWF-SA and WRAP, will develop the South African Plastics Pact roadmap for 2025 towards collective action in the local market, with annual public progress reporting.

The SA Plastics Pact was developed with funding support from the UN Environment, Sustainable Lifestyles & Education Programme, the UK’s Commonwealth Litter Programme, and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the British High Commission and the WWF Nedbank Green Trust.

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