Post-Consumer Recyclate (PCR), sometimes also referred to as Post-Consumer Resin, is an environmentally friendly packaging option made from post-consumer plastic waste. This is done by collecting left over plastic waste, sorting and cleaning it, recycling and then reprocessing into a new resin material that is then added to virgin material to create a new eco-saving product.
PCR packaging = Net Zero packaging.
In the context of South Africa’s growing environmental awareness and commitment to sustainable practices, the concept of recycling has become increasingly significant. The new EPR regulation introduced in November 2021 is a commitment by government and converters to take on the responsibility to improve the entire waste recycling eco system. Using PCR material for packaging is an essential process in preserving our eco system and resources. PCR pertains to the recycling of materials, particularly plastics, after they have been used by consumers. This process not only contributes to waste reduction but also holds various economic and environmental benefits. In this blog, we will delve into the benefits, importance, and challenges of utilizing Post-Consumer Recyclate in the South African economy.
Benefits of Post-Consumer Recyclate environmental impact reduction
By diverting used materials in landfills, we can re-use existing resources and minimize the environmental impact of waste in our nation. Introducing PCR materials also conserves valuable resources such as petroleum, which is a primary component in the production of plastics. By reusing these materials, we decrease the demand for natural resources, we reduce the need for extracting and processing new resources, which is particularly relevant to a resource-rich nation like South Africa.
Typically, the energy required to extract these natural resources far outweighs the energy needed to reuse discarded resources. Manufacturing products from Post-Consumer Recyclate can significantly reduce our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to South Africa’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
Recycling PCR materials has many economic benefits. It creates jobs in the recycling and manufacturing sectors, foster economic growth in South Africa and is more cost-effective for businesses than relying solely on virgin materials.
PCR materials are versatile and can be used in a wide range of applications, from packaging and construction materials to automotive parts and textiles. This versatility makes it beneficial and practical for various industries within South Africa to use, promoting economic diversification.
By incorporating PCR into our consumer products, South African businesses can minimize waste, maximize the reuse of resources, and contribute to a more sustainable and circular economy, in line with global trends. If we don’t find effective methods to re-use our waste then we cannot have a sustainable circular economy, therefore using PCR is a key process in closing the loop.
As South Arican consumers became increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of the products they purchase, using PCR in your products is catering to changing consumer preferences and favouring your environmentally-friendly brand.
Challenges of using Post-Consumer Recyclate in South Africa
While the benefits of Post-Consumer Recyclate are evident, there are also challenges associated with its use in the South African context:
Consumer culture and awareness about recycling is poor. Added to this problem is that consumers are not well informed about the correct methods in sorting plastics and where and how to dispose them. Even worse there are very few dedicated recycling stations for consumers to discard their plastic waste correctly.
South Africa does not have an adequate recycling infrastructure. Maintaining consistent quality in PCR materials is challenging due to variations in the sources and collection processes of recyclables, making it difficult for South African manufacturers to rely on PCR for certain critical applications, which highlights the need for investment in recycling infrastructures and collection networks to address this limitation and quality standards.
Existing road pickers are not being utilized effectively by municipalities to discard the plastics at plastic plants that they are collecting from households and businesses. There is no proper incentive and reticulation. We need to utilize the already active pickers, educate, and integrate them into the recycling system. Effective sorting and separation methods are essential to address this issue and ensure high-quality recyclate. Contaminants such as non-recyclable materials mixed in with PCR can decrease its quality and usability.
While PCR materials is cost-effective in the long run, the initial investment in recycling infrastructure and technology is a barrier for South African businesses. Financial support and incentives is also necessary to facilitate adoption.
Don’t let your plastic waste be left in landfill.
Demand for PCR.
PCR is a valuable resource in South Africa’s endeavours to reduce waste, conserve resources, and minimize environmental impacts. By incorporating PCR into manufacturing processes and consumer products, South African businesses can contribute significantly to a more sustainable and circular economy. While there are challenges associated with PCR adoption, advancements in recycling technology and increased consumer demand for sustainable products are driving its growth. As South Africa moves forward, it is crucial to invest in infrastructure and innovation to make PCR a more accessible and reliable resource for industries and consumers alike, fostering a greener and more prosperous nation.