Think twice before buying plastic bags

Stewart Chalmers takes all bottle tops, from wine and plastic to breadtags and corks.

Next time you buy a plastic bag at a supermarket, think twice.

Branded plastic supermarket carrier bags are marked with a “please recycle” logo, but they are being rejected by recyclers, owing to the addition of a calcium-carbonate filler.

This is according to Ingrid Godfrey, who heads up the recycling depot at Bergvliet Primary School (“Bergvliet Primary keeps it green,” Bulletin August 25, 2016).

Alan Oliver, of Pink Recycling, a company that collects sorted waste in the Constantia Valley, confirms this. He takes his recycling to M & K Recycling in Retreat.

Ms Godfrey sends the primary school recycling to K&C Waste, also in Retreat.

Kevin Haupt, of K&C Waste, says plastic bags are generally 30% recycled but should be 100% recycled. The fillers, introduced to lower input costs, make the bags far denser but create difficulties for recyclers using the sink-float process to separate the plastic from waste and contaminants.

Former environment minister Valli Moosa introduced a ban on thin plastic bags and a levy on thicker plastic bags in 2004 to reduce plastic bag consumption.

This levy was supposedly set aside for recycling and environmental protection projects.

According to an analysis of the plastic bag levy in South Africa, by Peter Ryan, the director of UCT’s Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, there was an initial short-term drop in plastic bag consumption following the launch of the tax, but it did not change consumer behaviour.

Ms Godfrey said Bergvliet Primary’s recycling depot did not take polystyrene, but the City’s drop-off depots did. That also applied to Styrofoam packaging, Fair Cape shiny number 1 milk bottles; brown cooldrink bottles; compact fluorescent lights and window-pane glass.

Bergvliet Primary’s principal Brandon Paulse said pupils had been conscious of the need to recycle, reuse, and live sustainably for some three decades.

“We were one of the first schools in the peninsula to become actively involved in the recycling ethos, and the school community eagerly supported this drive to protect our environment and natural resources, and in so doing, also raise welcome funds for the school,” he said.

As the years pass, the school’s recycling project continues to play a pivotal educational role and gives the community the opportunity to participate in “being green”.

The school runs competitions to see which class can collect the most glass or paper.

The school’s recycling depot is in Alphen Way and there are igloos for glass and paper recyclables in Children’s Way. The depot is open on most weekdays from 7am to 1pm and on Saturday from 7am to 2.30pm. They are closed on Wednesday and Sunday.

They take bread tags and plastic bottle tops for wheelchairs; all types of glass bottles and glass jars including the jar lids without holes; all types of cans, aluminium and tin, and tin foil and aluminium trays; all paper, including newspapers and magazines; cereal boxes and similar packaging; toilet roll inners; corrugated cardboard boxes; plastic bottles with the following numbers on the base: 1, 2 and 5; Tetrapaks for juice and long-life milk cartons, which must be washed out and flattened with the plastic tops removed; batteries and ink cartridges. To volunteer or for further details contact Ingrid Godfrey at 072 073 3821.