A Preliminary Analysis of the Plastics, Paper and Glass Recycling Database: An Introduction to the Nature and Dynamics of the Industry

by LOWITT, S, 2008
Research report, Centre for Poverty Employment & Growth, prepared for the Department of Environment, Agriculture and Tourism and the Department of Science and Technology

The purpose of this research programme, supported by the Human Sciences Research Council and the Departments of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and of Science and Technology, was to create the first economic database of plastics, glass and paper recycling activities in South Africa. These sectors have not been enumerated to date. This report is a first, high-level analysis of the data obtained during a year-long primary data collection process. It provides a broad description of economic activity in the industry and the issues facing it. The datasets contain much additional information, and it is hoped that the creation of this database will stimulate significant research and analysis, which will ultimately improve the understanding of this poorly researched area of economic activity.Lowitt shows that the recycling industry is commercially viable and profitable, and has the potential to grow if supply side constraints are addressed. Demand for recyclates is increasing in some waste streams, as virgin input prices rise; this trend is likely to continue. Industry players believe that there is untapped potential in the industry and some are enthusiastic and dynamic about harnessing such opportunities. There has been substantially higher capital investment in each of the waste streams across all points of the supply chain, indicating a healthy industry with a positive outlook.