Register to comment and receive news in your inboxRegister or Log in

Thanks to PETCO, major SA brands are meeting plastic collection and recycling targets

Newly released data shows that several major South African brands are meeting targets when it comes to collecting and recycling the plastic packaging in which their products are sold, and keeping it out of the environment.

The audited data, released on June 8 by the country’s longest-standing producer responsibility organisation (PRO), PETCO, represents 2022 collection and recycling rates for the products its members have registered with the organisation, comprising mainly PET bottles, jars and their labels and closures. These members include Pick n Pay, Woolworths, Unilever, Tiger Brands, Twizza, The Beverage Company, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, among others.

This comes one year after the promulgation of the Section 18 amendment to the National Environmental Management: Waste Act. Outlining now-mandatory extended producer responsibility (EPR), the regulations require packaging producers – brand owners, retailers and importers – to comply with stipulated annual targets for the improved design, collection and recycling of post-consumer product packaging in a bid to move the country towards a more circular economy.

Formed in 2004 as a then-voluntary PRO, PETCO administers dedicated EPR schemes for a range of packaging materials on behalf of its members. It assists members with the sustainable design of product packaging and supports the nationwide collection and recycling of PET bottles and their associated plastic closures and labels that end up in the same waste stream.

In 2022, PETCO members placed 121 369 tonnes of packaging on the South African market, comprising mainly PET beverage bottles, home and personal care bottles, edible oil bottles, food bottles and jars, plus their associated labels and closures, as well as minor volumes of PET strapping, shrink sleeves and thermoforms.

Of this volume, 69%, or 83 967 tonnes of post-consumer packaging, was collected for recycling, with a total recycling rate of 66% achieved.

In addition, PETCO’s financial support for one of its contracted recycling partners facilitated the availability of 25 000 tonnes of food-grade recycled PET (rPET) for inclusion in new product packaging, helping the broader sector to meet its recycled content targets. The data also reveals that PETCO helped its members surpass Year 1 government targets for collecting:

PET beverage bottles

Plastic PET oil bottles

Single-use PET products – covering home, food and personal care

Polyolefin rigids

PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz said she was proud of the role the organisation played in driving change across the packaging value chain towards a circular economy in which “packaging can be repurposed back into packaging”.

“The results we’ve achieved are due to the commitment of our members. We appreciate their partnership and inputs in navigating this new EPR space together.”

Scholtz said PETCO had developed a new, more robust EPR declaration system to simplify the reporting process for members.

This year, PETCO also introduced an EPR scheme for liquid board packaging (LBP), which will be included in the reporting for Year 2.

“In Year 2, we will continue with our member engagement workshops and work closely with our members for higher impact.”

Speak to us about becoming a member. Email