Plastic recycling

Grounds and Gardens manages waste and Recycling at Rhodes University.

Plastic is one of the most common forms of environmental pollution. It spoils public spaces and has a negative impact on health and wellness. Makana, the Eastern Cape, and South Africa, need to tackle this serious form of pollution!

Leading by example:

IWR Plastic Policy Statement

The Institute for Water Research supports calls for an end to the use of single-use plastic water bottles except in emergency situations. The environmental and health consequences of the manufacture, transportation, use and disposal of these bottles are well documented. The Institute does not supply single-use plastic water bottles for meetings, alumni events, conferences, etc, and requires catering suppliers to comply with this. Both staff and students are encouraged to make use of multi-use water bottles.

Information on single-use plastic can be obtained by following the link to the
Makana Plastic Action Group

Video "What Really Happens to Plastic" (4 min)  |  Plastic Bag Story.pdf  |  Bottled Water PowerPoint‌   |

The Plastic Waste Problem

  • Z‌ero Waste - the best option in the 'waste hierarchy'.

  • ‌Reduce unnecessary consumption, packaging and waste generation.

  • Re-use plastic waste creatively for arts and crafts. Visit Kisma Kreative.

  • Recycle - the last option in the 'waste hierarchy', delaying the entry of plastic waste into the system. 

If other options for preventing plastic waste are exhausted, it is possible to recycle most types of plastic.

Recycling contacts

Plastic Recycling Dos and Donts   

What's in? Bear in mind that exposure to some plastics may have health and safety implications.

  • Plastic numbers 1 (PET or PETE = polyethylene terephthalate; e.g. soft drink bottles), 2 (HDPE = high density polyethylene; e.g. shopping bags, shampoo bottles), 4 (LDPE = low density polyethylene; e.g. squeeze bottles, frozen food bags), 5 (PP = polypropylene; e.g. medicine bottles, yoghurt containers), 6 (PS = polystyrene; e.g. take-away food containers), 7 (miscellaneous other; e.g. 5 litre water bottles, nylon, DVD's, sunglasses, etc).

What's out? Bear in mind that exposure to some plastics may have health and safety implications.

  • Plastic number 3 (vinyl or PVC = polyvinyl chloride; e.g. piping, clear vinyl bags & packaging, insulator on electric wire, and some shampoo & detergent bottles, soft plastic toys, etc) - toxic dioxins (PCDDs or Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins) are released as a result of a combination of heat and chlorine.

  • Exposure of polycarbonate plastic bottles to boiling water results in much higher levels of a potentially harmful chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA).

  • Look for the Recycling Symbol & Number on the plastic. Find out more from the Daily Green's Recycling Symbols on Plastics and 3 Suspect Plastics to Avoid.

More Info 

Types of Plastics1
Recycling code Abbreviated name Full polymer name Used in:
1 PET/PETE Polyethylene terephthalate Polyester fibres, soft-drink bottles
2 HD-PE High-density polyethylene Bottles, plastic shopping bags, recycling bins
3 PVC/V High-density polyethylene Pipe, fencing, non-food bottles2
4 LD - PE Low-density polyethylene Plastic bags, containers, dispensing bottles
5 PP Polypropylene Auto parts, industrial fibres
6 PS Polystyrene Coffee cups, toys, video cassettes
7 OTHER Other plastics Various

Ref: Mark Gibson (2010). Waste Not, Want Not, Why Not? ReSource. (SA ePublications)

Take Action

Go to the Rhodes University ENVIRONMENT front page. Suggestions/Questions? Contact environment(at)

Last Modified: Tue, 06 Nov 2018 20:57:00 SAST