Paper recycling. Simplified.

PRASA shares the ‘golden rules’ for paper recycling.

The Paper Recycling Association of South Africa (PRASA) calls on all South Africans – from schoolchildren to pensioners – to do their bit by recycling paper products at school, home and work for drop-off at local recycling depots or gathering by collectors who earn a living by selling it back to mills.

“Paper and cardboard are items we touch and use every day – in the kitchen and bathroom, in the classroom and at the office – from printed copy paper, magazines, flyers and newspapers to cereal boxes and juice and milk cartons,” says PRASA operations director Ursula Henneberry. “Millions of people choose to recycle every day, which helps the local paper industry to make lots of new products and create meaningful employment.”

“Ordinary people don’t have much control over pressing global environmental challenges and their capacity to help solve these issues is limited. However, the one thing that we can all do to make a difference is recycle,” she adds.

The benefits are numerous, and it just takes a little bit of effort to develop “good garbage habits”.


As a starting point, it is important to remember paper recycling’s five golden rules:

  • Get to know what paper products are recyclable and which are not, or at least learn a basic understanding
  • Separate your recyclables from wet waste. Paper items that are wet (used paper plates) or soiled (tissues and disposable nappies) cannot be recycled.
  • Take a second to separate any non-paper packaging from paper or cardboard.
  • Always keep paper clean and dry as this ensures a quality fibre for use in making new products.
  • Invest in or make a paper-only bin or box for easy sorting.


  • Space permitting, you may want to have a smaller paper-only bins around the house – kitchen, bathroom (for cosmetic boxes and toilet roll cores), garage etc.
  • Decide what you want to do with your recyclables – have them collected or drop them off? You can also support a local school or community centre if they collect paper for fundraising.
  • Strike up a conversation with a waste collector in your suburb and make an arrangement to have them collect your paper and cardboard on a convenient day.
  • Keep a box or crate in your car so that you can do a weekly drop-off.
  • Make family, friends and visitors aware that you recycle.


  • Enrol in a paper recycling programme and raise funds for your school.
  • Actively encourage parents to drop off their recycling during their school runs.
  • Place clearly marked, brightly coloured recycling receptacles in classrooms and on the school grounds.
  • Contact PRASA for a presentation to share the value of recycling with teachers and learners.


  • Place paper-only bins for easy separation from other recyclables and wet waste, especially in areas where paper disposal is likely to take place – at desks, photocopiers and printers and in communal kitchens.
  • Mark recycling receptacles clearly or perhaps use a colour-coding system.
  • Find out what your company wants to do with recyclables – have them collected or dropped off?
  • Support a local small business or informal collector by arranging for them to collect the office recyclable paper, boxes and other paper packaging.
  • Make staff and visitors aware of the office-recycling programme. It may take regular education and encouragement, and some fun incentives.
  • Once you get the hang of paper recycling, start separating other recyclables, like plastic, cans and glass, aerosols and electronic waste. You could also try composting organic kitchen waste to go even greener.

Lastly, pay it forward and get friends and family to recycle too.


The 1.4 million tonnes of recyclable paper and paper packaging diverted from landfill in 2016. This is the equivalent to the weight of 280,000 African elephants. The same volume would cover 254 soccer fields or fill 1,680 Olympic-sized swimming pools.