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What is retail's link in recycling?

Nov 10th 2011, 08:12


What is retail's link in recycling?

Retailers play an essential role in the recycling chain. They are the last exit point for food packaging and should be the first point of entry for re-useable waste.

While there are a number of companies that already collect and recover recycling, such as Collect-a-Can and The Glass Recycling Company, retailers should be more pro-active in these projects, since a large amount of recycled materials is generated from food products and sold in their stores.

They can play their part by placing bins for re-useable waste at the front of stores and running programmes that encourage consumers to recycle, like rewarding them with loyalty card points, or offering a larger rebate, when recycling is disposed in-store.

A programme of this kind also has additional benefits for retailers. It not only creates a "do-good" image and increases the amount of waste recovered, it also acts as a vehicle to increase basket size and sales - consumers would make a special effort to visit the store more often to claim their reward.

By implementing incentivised programmes retailers will help contribute to the many exciting drives and promising statistics already achieved, like beverage cans being “South Africa’s most recycled form of packaging, with over 70% of all beverage cans produced being recovered for recycling. (

FMCG suppliers and design companies also need to be involved by ensuring that food packaging they use is both eco-friendly and easy to recover. But they too need to be incentivised to use and manufacture it. Recycling should be a shared responsibility and everyone needs to play their part. FMCG suppliers need to create packaging that is easy to recover, retailers need to set up recycling programmes and consumers need to recycle. The long-term success in these initiatives lies in making them beneficial for all concerned.

Wendy Smith

P.S. Look out for this editorial on our editor’s blog.

Please feel free to make comments or raise new issues by
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