Recycling. A word that either fills you with delight or dread. Perhaps you’ve tried recycling in your classroom or at your school but couldn’t an effective collection system going. Maybe you’re hooked and love to see how little waste from your lessons is going to landfill. Or maybe you’re trying but you’re not getting the support you need.
RecyclePaperZA, the South African paper recycling association, is here to help. Every day, we use paper and cardboard – from lesson plans to work books, from merit charts and certificates to report cards, from magazines to newspapers. There are juice boxes, milk cartons and paper cups.
The act of separation-at-source is the first step in the recycling process. It helps to reduce the amount of re-usable paper-based material going to landfill by keeping it clean and dry before until it reaches paper mills that make it into new products that we use every day.
Last year, the paper recycling industry, conscientious consumers and thousands of collectors kept 1.3 million tonnes* of paper, paper boxes and liquid packaging out of landfill. This amount would fill 1,539 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Recycling also creates employment – from the people who walk the streets with their trolleys to big companies employing thousands of people.
And this is just paper. Through effective separation-at-source and recycling, thousands of tonnes of other recyclables – plastic, glass and tin – are kept out of our landfills and used as raw materials for new products.
But where or how to start? RecyclePaperZA offers a few helpful tips.
- Keep it simple and start by recycling one type of waste stream – paper is sometimes the easiest as there are multiple collection or drop-off methods. Once you get the hang of it, start recycling plastic, glass or tin. You can of course go all in!
- Invest in a plastic bin or box for your classroom and make it a class project to decorate it. Put it in an accessible place, preferably near your current rubbish bin. Keep paper products clean and dry.
- Know what paper products are recyclable and which are not. We have posters that you can print and use in your classroom.
- Recyclable: paper packaging, liquid board packaging (milk and juice cartons, paper cups), newspaper, brochures and magazines; office paper, telephone directories, paper gift wrap, and damaged books that are not suitable for donation.
- Not recyclable: wet or dirty cardboard (e.g. paper plates), tissues and paper towels, nappies, sticky notes, wax- or foil-lined boxes, cement bags, dog food bags and laminated paper.
- Separate non-paper packaging (e.g. plastic) from the paper or cardboard.
- Educate and re-educate. Every week.
- Appoint a recycling monitor and make it fun to recycle.
- If non-recyclable paper products end up in the paper recycling, use it as a teaching opportunity.
- Decide if you want it collected or if you want to drop it off.
- Participate in a school paper recycling programme and earn money for your school.
- Use a kerbside collection programme.
- Support your neighbourhood waste collector and leave the bag out on an agreed day. This will save him or her having to dig through your smelly bin or bags!
- Make the circle bigger and install recycling bins in key areas around the school – copy rooms and the tuck shop are two areas where paper and paper packaging is used.
- Wherever there is a general rubbish bin, place a PAPER, CARDBOARD AND LIQUID BOARD PACKAGING ONLY bin alongside it. You could also go one step further and add a bin for plastic bottles.
- If you sign up to a fundraising programme, encourage children to bring paper and cardboard from home.
By making these small changes, you can make a big difference. When you see the reduction in your weekly waste-to-landfill, you will realise the positive impact your school is making. Eventually it becomes second nature.
For more information, please visit www.recyclepaper.co.za.
* This represents 70% of the 1.8 million tonnes of paper available for recovery and excludes books, archived records and unrecyclable paper like toilet tissue.