Is waste paper really ‘waste’ if it has a value? The answer is no.

“When we separate our recyclables from general rubbish, we will soon discover that there is treasure to be found in trash, says Anele Sololo, general manager of RecyclePaperZA.

Today a newspaper, tomorrow a cereal box

Paper and paper packaging is not waste but a valuable commodity. For manufacturers, recycled paper is an alternative fibre, with some 65% of recovered paper being used as raw material for the production of corrugated boxes and board, newspapers, tissue products, kitchen and industrial paper toweling, cereal boxes, soap cartons and moulded paper products like egg boxes.

Recycling pays

Around 100 000 people rely on recyclables for their daily bread. On any given day, and especially refuse collection day, you will be sure to notice a number of people with rickety trolleys checking wheelie bins and black bags for recyclable items.

“Informal waste collectors can often be seen as a nuisance, especially when hauling overloaded trolleys along busy roads; but these people are making a living by recovering recyclables and selling them to buy-back centres,” explains Sololo.

The average waste collector can start without a cent in his or her pocket and end the day with enough money to buy food for the table or school shoes for their children.

Not only does recycling provide economic opportunities for citizens from all walks of life, it ensures that valuable raw material does not end up in landfill where it becomes difficult if not impossible to retrieve, due to it being contaminated and unusable.

Paper recycling also plays a big part in sustaining jobs – from the people who walk the streets collecting recyclables to bigger companies that employ people to recover, weigh and sort recyclables.

Make a difference, sort your waste

Every one uses paper in one way or another every day, from business documents to school reports, from cereal boxes to milk cartons and the ever-essential toilet roll cores.

By keeping your paper recycling in a separate bag for your local waste collectors, you will save them the time and the health risk of digging through a week’s worth of wet and smelly waste.

“Recyclable paper products should be kept clean and dry to ensure that the waste collector earns maximum value,” advises Sololo.