Chandru Wadhwani, joint MD at Extrupet, Africa's leading PET recycler, said consumers most likely tossed plastic cutlery in the bin with other packaging and food residue, and it was very unlikely to be collected by waste pickers for recycling because, being so light, the utensils carry little value and are thus not worth the effort.
But recently the government gazetted strict new rules under the Waste Act to increase recycling and reduce the amount of waste that enters landfill sites. This includes new targets for recycled content in everything from plastic packaging to glass bottles.
And in what is referred to as “extended producer responsibility”, producers and importers must also make sure that used products are returned and recycled again.
Plastic cutlery is specifically mentioned in the long list of consumer items affected by the new legislation.
“The producers and importers of the packaging will have to form or join an organisation to have the packaging collected for recycling,” Wadhwani said.
“In reality it means they will have to come up with alternatives that do not harm the environment - and ultimately that’s the change we all want.”
GET IN TOUCH: Wendy Knowler specialises in consumer journalism. You can reach her via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @wendyknowler