So where can you take your recyclables in South Africa?

There are several places which accept a variety of recyclables: Africa´s Recycling Marketplace and Exchange – this is an online exchange for scrap metals, automotive parts, non-metallic materials, reusable goods, used equipment etc aimed at companies.

Integrated Waste Exchange (IWEX) – Cape Town ( The IWEX lists everything from Acids to Wood and Paper. The IWEX is a service offered by the City of Cape Town, which is free of charge for all waste material generators and waste material users.

Nelson Mandela Bay Waste Exchange ( The electronic waste exchange allows companies/organisations or individuals to post materials (waste) available or wanted free of charge on the webpage. Register, Re-use, Exchange YOUR unwanted waste material.

The Freecycle Network  ( Changing the world, one gift at a time: The Freecycle Network™ is made up of many individual groups across the globe. It´s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) things for free in their own towns. Take a look – there are several groups in South Africa.

Waste Minimisation Clubs ( Waste Minimisation Clubs are a groups of companies working together to reduce waste and save money. They consist of between 10 and 15 companies, either from the same sector, or from different sectors. They can also be formed in-house in larger companies where there are a number of separate departments or business units. (Clubs can be formed in the industrial, commercial and public service sectors.) Each company that joins a Club becomes a Club member and appoints a project champion to represent them at Club meetings. Meetings are held on a regular basis, generally monthly or bimonthly. At these meetings, Club members exchange information, ideas and experiences in waste minimisation. Training in waste minimisation aspects is also provided.


Collect-a-Can ( takes cans for recycling in a few central locations in South Africa. Contact Collect-a-Can to find out where you can take your cans.

Electronic waste

You can find a list of e-waste recyclers in South Africa on the website of the Information Technology Association ( – see the e-Waste Collection tab.

The MySchool programme ( has established a recycling system to raise funds for schools and communities. Used inkjet and laser cartridges brought in by learners are collected from schools. Monthly competitions are held as an incentive to encourage learners to collect these cartridges from their homes and parent´s offices. Corporate companies can also participate by donating used cartridges and nominating schools to receive the proceeds. Alternatively, you can recycle your HP inkjet and laser cartridges either by returning them to your local ink and toner vendor or by contacting HP Product Return & Recycling (

On the website of the Electronic Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA) ( you can find lists containing the collection points, refurbishers and e-waste recyclers in South Africa respectively.


Glass bottles can be a great asset in any kitchen. Reuse some as storage containers or make delicious homemade jams and chutneys – a great way to spend time together and a great personal gift idea.  

Other bottles can be taken to your local primary school or to bottle banks which can often be found at municipal refuse sites or public facilities such as schools (see below). The Glass Recycling Company ( also has many glass bank locations throughout South Africa and can also provide glass banks, skips and drums if needed. Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100 watt bulb for four hours!  

Interestingly there are 17 official Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centres ( in the world (nine in the U.S., one each in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, South Africa, and Spain). Find out where you can donate your old eyeglasses.

Hazardous waste (oil, coolant, batteries etc)

When it comes to the car and garage, hazardous waste is often difficult to dispose of – and even more difficult to recycle.
Coolant is often recycled at larger workshops using coolant recycling machines – maybe there is a workshop near you which will recycle it for you. Note that the coolant must be in a clean pan with no oil or other solvents polluting the coolant.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (energy efficient light bulbs) contain a very small amount of mercury. In masses (and we want them to be used everywhere since they are such good energy savers) they can cause environmental damage if disposed of in normal landfills. The best is therefore to recycle them. You can place them (without breaking them) into the recycling container you can find at Pick´n Pay ( They will be collected fortnightly.

Household batteries can sometimes contain hazardous materials – especially if they are rechargeable. You can put your old household batteries into the Uniross ( container in every Pick´n Pay. The old batteries will be collected by Uniross every week for sorting and processing, after which rechargeables will be sent for recycling and non-rechargeables will be disposed of in a protected landfill.

Car batteries contain toxic lead and sulphuric acid but fortunately they are recyclable. Both the sulphuric acid and the lead plates are reusable. You can usually hand your old battery in at the sales outlet where you buy your new battery.

The Oil Rose Foundation(, a South African-based NPO, has several drop-off depots for used lubricating motor oil recycling. They can also provide you with your own collection tank.  

Household items and clothing

If you have old household items and clothing, contact some charity organisatio
in your area. These organisations can often make good use of second-hand household items and clothing.


One family can save up to four pine trees a year if a concerted effort is made to recycle waste paper. When it comes to paper, reuse is the first priority.

Paper lunch bags can be replaced with canvas bags or reusable lunchboxes.

In terms of printing, simply make use of a two-box system. Place papers which have only been printed on one side in the first box – these papers can be printed on again. Place papers which cannot be printed on again in the other box – these can be used as scrap paper for making notes etc. Just make sure that you do not place papers containing confidential information into either of these boxes.

Paper can either be recycled by Mondi ( pickup or by Sappi ( Waste Paper. Contact these companies to find out about recycling in your area.

Libraries, schools and vets often make use of old newspapers – try giving them a call. Schools and preschools additionally also make use of egg boxes, toilet rolls and other items and would be only too grateful for your contribution.


Plastics can last for about 30 years! Reuse should consequently also be a first priority.

In some cases plastic bags and plastic wrap can be replaced with canvas bags or reusable lunchboxes. Plastic bags themselves can be reused a number of times before they need to be disposed of and even then they can be crocheted to make colourful items.

Plastic bottles, tubs and containers can also be reused several times (e.g. for storage or as mixing containers) and can finally be adapted to make interesting items such as bird feeders, plant watering devices or plant containers.

Plastics which cannot otherwise be reused can be taken to various drop-off points. Find out where the sites are on the following websites: Petco ( (Western Cape, Gauteng and Durban), the Plastics Federation of South Africa ( (Cape Town metro and Gauteng) and the PSPC Polystyrene Packaging Council ( (Cape Town, Durban and Gauteng)

Organic waste

Composting can be really easy – why not give it a go? Or try a worm garden…!


Old tyres have a multitude of uses including serving as containers for sand pits, the seats of swings, or, if stacked, as compost containers or potato pots. If you´re not planning to reuse your old tyres, then take them to your nearest tyre sales outlet for recycling. Alternatively, contact the South African Tyre Recycling Process Company ( they are in the process of organising tyre recycling in South Africa.


Recycling the grey water in your home can be a simple matter. You can easily construct a small grey-water system to filter your bathwater which can be used to water some plants.

 The liveeco team

More from Nikki Stear

Start Recycling East Rand!

Plastics recycling drop-off point now available in the East Rand A plastic...
Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *