With this two-fold benefit, recycled material has quickly earned the title of the world's 'seventh resource' besides water, air, oil, natural gas, coal and minerals. Only 7,5% of households in our country recycle their waste; we need to change this statistic if we want to relieve the pressure on our landfill sites and reap the economic benefits of recycling.

Global Recycling Day takes place in 2020 on Wednesday, 18 March. The day seeks to recognise the people, countries and technology that play an important role in recycling.

These are the heroes for an environmentally stable planet and a greener economy. Each year, the seventh resource' saves over 700 million tonnes in CO2 emissions and this is projected to increase to one billion tons by 2030.

The circular economy is a new way of creating value and, ultimately, prosperity. It works by extending a product's lifespan through improved design, servicing and relocating waste from the end of the supply chain to the beginning.

This circular approach, in effect, uses resources more efficiently by using them over and over and not only once. Recycling is a key part of the circular economy, helping to protect our natural resources. 

In terms of recycling, there are some packaging materials in South Africa that have performed really well such as the high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is used for milk bottles. We need to look at the recycling value chain of such a plastic packaging material to see how we can apply this to other materials.

The IWMSA is hosting WasteCon 2020 from Tuesday, 6 October to Thursday, 8 October at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg. The event aims to build on the success it had seen in 2018, which saw many waste sector role players coming together to discuss strategies to advance South Africa's waste sector and circular economy.

WasteCon 2020 will be a premier showcase of best practice and sustainable waste management solutions, including recycling. The conference will take place over a period of three days with plenary sessions, panel discussions and workshops that will be presented by industry experts.

Our aim for WasteCon this year is to encourage collaboration with all industry stakeholders to improve the full recycling value chain to stimulate the circular economy.

For more information, visit www.wastecon.co.za. You can also follow the IWMSA on Facebook or on Twitter.