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Plastic recycling of plant protection product containers in South Africa

GlobalGAP supports CropLife Africa/Middle East’s strategy for developing plastic container management programs in key countries of the region. CropLife encourages farms to recycle empty plant protection product containers. To that end, CropLife organized a workshop for eleven African countries. It took place in Stellenbosch, South Africa, on 24–26 June and included a presentation from GlobalGAP about container management in accordance with the GlobalGAP IFA Standard. According to that standard, plastic containers must never be re-used, but always triple-rinsed and crushed before storage and disposal. If the containers are triple-rinsed, they are considered no longer hazardous.

Delegates witnessed first-hand the success of the South African operation, of which approximately 70 % of all empty plastic containers placed on the market are collected and then recycled. During the first day of the workshop, attendees were able to visit several recycling companies in the Western Cape area. These recyclers manufacture various items like furniture and building materials from the recycled empty plastic containers.

Attendees from across Africa took part in this workshop to give an update on their progress towards safe disposal of these containers and on how much packaging is reaching recyclers. All participating countries came prepared with an action plan, either in the form of firm plans to introduce a pilot project in their companies, or with plans for how to increase their collections.

In 2018, the region had only 8 pilot programs, with collections growing by approximately 10 % from 2017 volumes. This already exceeded CropLife’s goals, in that more than 5.6 million kg of plastic were collected over the course of the year, and more than 5.3 million kg of plastic were recycled. These figures amount to approximately 19 % of all plastic pesticide containers in the African market.

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