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Eco-heroes wear masks to make a difference where they are

Each year, the local plastics industry welcomes the arrival of Spring and warmer weather by encouraging citizens to help make a difference where they live, work, learn or play by participating in Clean-Up & Recycle SA Week – an annual public awareness week during which plastics and other litter are removed from our country’s neighbourhoods, rivers, streams, beaches and oceans. 

Plastics SA’s Director of Sustainability, Douw Steyn, explained that this year’s Clean-Up & Recycle SA Week is scheduled to take place from 14-19 September this year. This will coincide with National Recycling Day which takes place on Friday, 18 September and International Coastal Clean-Up Day/Let’s Do It World Clean-Up Day on Saturday, 19 September this year. 

“Unfortunately, early indications are that Covid-19 pandemic will be forcing a change in our plans to host our annual beach and community clean-ups,” said Steyn.

Steyn explained that South Africa finds itself in the same uncertain situation as countries around the world owing to the fact that large public gatherings are prohibited and beaches are closed in an effort to prevent the spreading of the disease.

He added that the International Coastal Clean-Up Day is the world’s biggest volunteer effort for ocean health and that South Africa has been a part of the event for more than twenty years. 

“We have seen tens of thousands of people give up two hours of their time to help rid our beaches of litter. This year, however, we will be supporting the global call to avoid large group gatherings and maintain social distancing in the interest of everybody’s health and safety,” Steyn said.

Covid-19 leads to a change in plans

Instead of flocking to beaches or gathering in groups for clean-ups, Plastics SA is spreading the message that this year, every South African should be an eco-warrior; one who wears a mask maintains safe distancing and makes a difference in their immediate area.

In the same way, the health pandemic has forced individuals to take responsibility for their health, the plastics and packaging industries are uniting their voices in calling on South Africans to also become responsible citizens when it comes to disposing of their waste.  Plastics SA believes it is possible for us to turn the tide on ocean pollution if every person becomes conscious of his or her immediate surroundings and picks up the visible litter around our homes and neighbourhoods.

Importance of recycling

Stey explained that it is necessary to recycle as much as possible to reduce the strain on the country’s landfill sites. He further added that recycling reduces the environmental footprint because it uses less water, energy and raw materials to create new products.

“In addition, more than 60 000 people are employed by the plastics manufacturing and recycling industries, making a meaningful contribution to the country’s economy,” Steyn added.

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