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The SA Plastics Pact

What it is; how it started; and how its member companies are striving to create a circular economy for plastic packaging in South Africa?

CBN’s Sue Segar talks to Roan Snyman, expert analyst in the Circular Economy team at GreenCape; and stakeholder lead of the SA Plastics Pact.

QUESTION: What is the South African Plastics Pact?

Roan Snyman: The SA Plastics Pact is a collaborative initiative that brings together key stakeholders from the local plastics value chain, including businesses, the government, Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs), NGOs and other key players to tackle plastics waste and pollution at its source. The business members represented include resin producers, packaging manufacturers, brand owners and retailers, converters and recyclers.

What is the aim of the SA Plastics Pact?

The SA Plastics Pact aims to stimulate industry-led innovation and dialogue to work towards a circular economy for plastic packaging, with improved economic, environmental and societal outcomes. It also aims to come up with new business models and to generate jobs.

The SA Plastics Pact aligns with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy vision, a global vision which aims to encourage collaboration so that plastic never becomes waste or pollution. It also works towards a set of four targets by 2025 aimed at a circular economy for plastics in SA.

What are the four targets for 2025?

  • Taking action on problematic or unnecessary packaging through elimination, redesign, innovation or alternative (reuse) delivery models;
  • To ensure that 100 percent of plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable;
  • To ensure 70 percent of plastic packaging is effectively recycled or composted;
  • To ensure a 30 percent average of recycled content across all plastic packaging.

 When was The Plastics Pact launched in SA and how did it come about?

The SA Plastics Pact was launched in January 2020 and the development of the SA Plastics Pact was facilitated by WWF-SA together with the Ellen MacArthur (Foundation (EMF), an international NGO, as well as the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO). The SA Plastics Pact is part of a global network of 14 Pacts, led by EMF and WRAP (a climate action NGO working around the globe).  

How many members are in the SA Plastics Pact – and who are they?

To date, there are 48 member organisations. Recently, five new members signed up, including Food Lovers’ Market, Naspers and Sir Fruit as new business members, as well as the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) and the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) as supporting members. Other retailer members include Pick ‘n Pay, Woolworths, SPAR, Takealot, Mr Delivery and Clicks.

What role do supporting members play in the Plastics Pact? 

Supporting members, such as the CGCSA and the CoJ play a vital role in enabling circularity for plastic packaging through industry-wide actions, research to support an evidence-based approach to circularity, and education and awareness. 

The CGCSA acts as a representative body for the entire consumer packaged goods industry and has more than 9 000 member companies across the packaged goods value chain, representing retail, wholesale and manufacturing sectors and can play a significant role in helping to engage with more brand owners, retailers and manufacturers and in facilitating growth in a circular economy for plastic packaging in SA.

The CoJ is the second metropolitan municipality to join the SA Plastics Pact after the City of Cape Town. Metropolitan municipalities can play a key role in South Africa’s recycling economy, particularly in terms of separation at source.

What have been some of the achievements, to date, of the SA Plastics Pact? 

Key highlights published in the 2021 annual report include:

  • Target 1: 34.7 million fewer problematic or unnecessary items were sold/distributed by members in 2021
  • Target 2: 81.2% of plastic packaging placed on the market by members is currently recyclable in South Africa, compared to 80.7% in 2020.
  • Target 3: The amount of plastic recycled in South Africa in 2020 was 43.2% of the total plastics placed on the market in 2020, with a 35.4% recycling rate for plastic packaging. 
  • Target 4: 20.8% Average recycled content across consumer/primary packaging is 11.7% with retailer/secondary and logistics/tertiary packaging remaining largely the same at 37.1%. 

 What is GreenCape – and what is its role in the SA Plastics Pact?

In terms of the Plastics Pact, GreenCape is the secretariat. GreenCape is a non-profit organisation that drives the widespread adoption of economically viable green economy solutions from South Africa. 

Many companies want to be part of a green economy but don’t have the information or don’t understand the regulations or they don’t know how to focus efforts to ensure success. We are there to help.

Any organisation interested in joining the SA Plastics Pact, please reach out to Roan on

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