Media releases

South African paper recycling recovery rate improving, but more to be done

10 September 2012

The volume of paper recovered for recycling in South Africa has increased by almost a third over the past decade and could be 63% by 2017, according to statistics from the Paper Recycling Association of South Africa (PRASA).

South Africa has seen paper recovery rates increase significantly in the last decade, rising to 59% in 2011 from 38% in 2000. This puts the country just ahead of global recovery rates of 55.6%, according to the 2011 International Council of Forest and Paper Association.

As the largest recycler of paper in South Africa, Mpact Recycling, division of the listed paper and plastics packaging company Mpact Limited, recovers over 450 000 tonnes of waste paper, about 45% of all paper recovered annually in South Africa.

"There is no doubt that we are  beginning to see a culture of recycling in homes, schools and small businesses, as well as across many industries nationwide, which is reflected in the growth figures we’ve observed over the past decade,” says John Hunt, managing director of Mpact Recycling.  “However, there is still plenty of room for improvement, particularly in collections from households."

While the largest source of recovered paper is from the paper converting industries such as printers and box manufacturers, as well as large businesses, industries and shopping centres, a growing opportunity is recovering paper from schools, households and offices as collections from these sources account for less than 10% of Mpact Recycling’s total collection.

"We have put a variety of different mechanisms in place to recover paper from consumers and businesses, and are constantly looking for opportunities to improve the amount of paper recovered by educating the public on the benefits of recycling."

Hunt said South Africa’s National Recycling Day on 14 September will be an important opportunity to highlight the strides the country has made to embrace recycling.  National Recycling Day forms part of Clean-Up Week, which takes place nationwide from 10-15 September.

"The growth in paper recovery rates is also promising trend for the country because of the obvious environmental benefits to recycling. Not only are greenhouse gas emissions reduced," says Hunt, "but recycling also lessens the impact on already pressured landfill sites since the need for landfilling is avoided. Related to that, of course, is the drop in waste disposal costs."

However, perhaps even more important, is the economic activity generated in collecting and processing recovered paper. The recycling industry creates opportunities for small, medium and micro enterprises through its recycle collection programmes and is a major contributor to job growth in this country. It is estimated that 100,000 people are employed in the recycling industry in South Africa, with around 30,000 of these involved in paper recycling alone.

"A significant source of paper for Mpact Recycling remains small locally-based businesses that collect paper in their areas and then deliver it to Mpact Recycling.  These businesses vary in size from well-established recycling business in a regional city to a one person business with a ‘bakkie’ to street hawkers," says Hunt.

He says recycling offers employment opportunities for entrepreneurs and for traders to deliver to buy-back centres. Mpact has helped establish 42 buy-back centres with equipment, financial help as well as fundamental business training as one of its enterprise initiatives.

"We also contribute to employment through a scheme that supports drivers with a vehicle and income to collect and transport recovered paper to our mills," says Hunt.

Linked to the economy is the fact that the recovered paper is beneficiated locally.

"The paper collected by Mpact Recycling is used as raw material by Mpact’s mills to make recycled-based paper, which in turn processed by our corrugated business into recycled-based containerboard and cartonboard.  This creates significant downstream employment opportunities," says Hunt.

Mpact Recycling’s largest processing plant is situated in Tulisa Park, Gauteng.  Mpact also runs regional offices and processing plants around the country, including in Pretoria, Durban, Richards Bay, Springs in Midrand and Parow in the Western Cape. 

Need more information?

To find out about collection initiatives in your neighbourhood, from home or at community depots, please call 0800 022 112 or email

For more information about National Recycling Day (14 September 2012), please visit:

For more information on Mpact Recycling please visit

Contact details for Mpact:

Johannesburg: 011 538 8600
Cape Town: 021 931 5106
Durban: 031 274 6600
Richards Bay: 035 751 1722

Issued by:

FTI Consulting – Strategic Communications

Chloe Webb +27 (0) 11 214 2421/ +27 (0)83 305 0144
Lianne Osterberger +27 (0) 11 214 2414 / +27 (0)83 27 27 313

On behalf of:

Mpact Limited

Deborah Chapman | Communications Manager, Mpact
+27 (0) 11 994 5500/ +27 (0)76 650 4155

Notes to editors

Mpact is a leading southern African paper and plastics packaging group with revenues of R6.2bn in 2011. Mpact employs 3,700 people at 30 sites, of which 23 are manufacturing sites. Mpact earns approximately 10% of its sales outside of South Africa. It also has plants in Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Mpact has the number one market position in corrugated packaging, recycled-based cartonboard and containerboard, recovered paper collection, PET preforms, styrene trays and plastic jumbo bins. These accounted for approximately 90% of its revenue in 2011.

Source: Mpact