Plastic | WWF South Africa

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Plastic

Take ownership of what you send into the world.

Half of the plastics we produce are problematic – because of the way we use them. And every day tonnes of plastic waste makes its way into our waterways and oceans where it lives for hundreds of years, polluting coastlines and threatening marine life at home and abroad.

Why does it matter?

Plastic comes in many different shapes and forms and has both good and bad uses. While some plastics help us to live more efficiently and easily, and can be reused and recycled very effectively (e-waste like phones and laptops), others are a major problem. For example, single-use items like plastic straws, cutlery and shopping bags that are used briefly and then thrown out with no hope of being reused or recycled.

Research shows that only 16% of plastic in South Africa is recycled. The rest is thrown into dustbins and sent to landfill sites. Lightweight litter, such as chip packets and sweet wrappers, are often whipped up by the wind and channelled down storm water drains and urban canals, making their way into streams and rivers and, ultimately, the sea.

Over 8 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans each year and the impacts of plastic pollution can be seen across our oceans - from the Arctic to Antarctica. But the problem starts on land. We all - individuals, businesses and government – need to be a part of the solution.

More plastics have been produced in the first 18 years of the 21st century than in the whole of the 20th century.

What is WWF doing?

Plastic use is a complex issue and most people don’t know what to do about the problem or where to start. In response, WWF is developing a programme that looks at the role of plastic within a circular economy, working in partnership with other organisations and creating resources to inform and equip consumers to make more sustainable choices.

What can you do?

Join the global movement to use less plastic. Every action, whether big or small, makes a difference. Make your pledge and receive helpful hints and tips for a post-plastic life from WWF.

Take ownership of what you send into the world.

Take action

Did you know?

South Africans use between 30 and 50kg of plastic a year