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eWASA’s reaches 31% recycling target for polystyrene: a game changer in waste management

Certain materials have long been considered challenging to recycle. Polystyrene has garnered a reputation for being difficult to repurpose, leading to a prevailing misconception that it cannot be effectively recycled. However, thanks to the relentless efforts of the EPR Waste Association of South Africa with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, this narrative is rapidly evolving.

In a groundbreaking development, EPR Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA) has proudly announced an exceptional achievement for the 2022/2023 reporting period: a remarkable 31% recycling rate for polystyrene. This significant milestone not only defies the conventional wisdom surrounding the recyclability of this versatile material that is used widely for food packaging, take-away containers, fish boxes as well as protective packaging for household appliances, car parts and other fragile items but also underscores the efficacy of organisation’s initiatives in bolstering recycling infrastructure for these materials.

Adri Spangenberg, an EPR specialist and business associate of eWASA explains that one of the driving forces behind this achievement is the growing demand for sustainable waste management solutions. “As global awareness of environmental issues continues to escalate, organisations like eWASA are increasingly under pressure to enhance recycling capabilities and divert materials from landfills. Moreover, pressure groups such as the Plastics Pact have underscored the importance of reevaluating traditional perceptions of recyclability. eWASA’s success in achieving a substantial recycling rate for expanded, extruded and high-impact polystyrene challenges the notion that it is not recyclable, prompting a paradigm shift in waste management discourse and on-pack labelling”.

Adri Spangenberg, an EPR specialist and business associate of eWASA.

Keith Anderson, CEO of eWASA, affirms Spangenberg’s sentiment, stating that the implications of this achievement extend beyond mere statistics. “This is a significant milestone that we have achieved through a collective effort by industry stakeholders supporting eWASA’s unwavering commitment to advancing recycling initiatives. The funds raised from our polystyrene packaging members have been channelled directly into recycling and collection efforts, underscoring our proactive approach to addressing waste management challenges,” he says.

Keith Anderson, CEO of eWASA.

Beyond the numbers, the implications of eWASA’s achievements reverberate across various sectors and underscore the economic viability of the various recycling initiatives that it supports.

“Various new end-markets have been developed recently for recycled polystyrene, ranging from lightweight concrete bricks to picture frames, cornices, curtain rods and other building and construction products. Moreover, the integration of polystyrene recycling into household waste collection systems signifies a pivotal shift in waste management practices, paving the way for more inclusive and comprehensive recycling programmes,” Spangenberg says.

Looking ahead, eWASA’s triumph is a beacon of hope and inspiration for the global recycling community. Challenging entrenched perceptions and investing in innovative solutions has demonstrated the transformative power of collective action in addressing environmental challenges. As the momentum towards sustainability continues to build, eWASA’s achievements stand as a testament to the boundless potential of recycling to drive positive change on a global scale.

For more information about eWASA, visit