South Africa is a land of beautiful natural beauty and as such, has much potential as a forward-looking economy, with much potential to become the regional leader in green and renewable energy. However, South Africa is also home to many companies that are engaged in producing plastic, glass, metal, and other materials from natural resources. Some of these companies make money directly from their recycling efforts while others (such as Plastic South Africa) operate on a ‘social good’ basis, aiming to improve the quality of life through environmentally friendly goods production. In addition to being a vital piece of the South African development process, recycling is a much needed service as it plays an important role in conserving the rich flora and fauna of the country as well as providing jobs for local people. Below are some of the ways in which recycling makes economic sense in South Africa:
* Recycling helps reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources. This is especially true for raw materials, which account for about 90% of the total consumption in South Africa. Most of the materials that are produced in the agricultural sector, for example, are used for animal feed, for construction material and for other uses such as fuel. In addition, raw materials such as wood, which are increasingly scarce, are also used in other industrial processes. Companies that produce plastic bottles for soda companies or other beverage companies also use wooden chips and tree parts. As a result, the overall demand for wood, plastic and other non-renewable materials is on the rise.
* By investing in recycling projects, these companies can also generate jobs for the local population. There are currently a number of such projects throughout the country, particularly in rural areas where poverty is the greatest. Many small time entrepreneurs have been attracted by the idea of recycling and have started small businesses to provide these services. These small companies are able to earn a reasonable living from recycling waste, and they often distribute the profits to the local community to support the projects.