paper recyclingHow Can We Help South Africa’s Paper Recycling Industry?

South Africa has been celebrated for its excellent recycling achievements of late, especially when it comes to paper recycling. As a country, we were able to meet our 2020 paper recycling target of 70% in 2017, with approximately 1.3-million tonnes of cardboard, paper, and liquid packaging being recycled Three impressive years ahead of schedule!

However, despite the fact that we have been winning the fight against waste up until now, the SA recycling industry has recently been experiencing problems with regard to paper recycling. Even though almost all types of paper are recyclable, there is currently a massive over-supply in our local paper mills.

Of particular concern is China’s Ban on accepting imports of paper waste from January 2018, the effects of which are only now starting to become evident. As a result, leading paper recyclers have stopped accepting what is termed ‘common paper’ and cardboard.

What types of paper are no longer being accepted?

The following types of paper are no longer being accepted by South African paper mills:

  • Gift bags
  • Cereal boxes
  • Tissue boxes
  • Toilet roll inners
  • Tissue paper
  • Cardboard
  • Magazines
  • Newspaper

Basically, any type of paper that you would usually think to recycle is no longer being accepted until further notice.

What types of paper have been unaffected by the surplus?

The only type of paper that paper recyclers are currently still accepting is white office paper. However, this does not mean that employees and business owners should feel free to use office paper mindlessly. It is important, in order to prevent future problems, to pay attention to reducing paper usage whenever possible.


In short, avoid printing unnecessarily and, if you do, make sure that you print on both sides of the paper. Encourage digital file storage via the Cloud, and insist that your employees take notes etc. using their smartphones or laptops, as opposed to paper or notepads. These small changes can make a world of difference in the long run!

What individuals can do to help

Ultimately, if you do not own a business, you can still help to counteract the problem and reduce the over-supply by paying close attention to minimising your personal and household waste. Avoid purchasing copious amounts of packaged foods, appliances etc. – anything that comes in a box or is packaged using paper of some kind.


Visit fresh food farmers’ markets, buy second-hand items, and upcycle your old paper products in creative ways.

Contact Postwink to help you keep your white paper separate from the rest, ultimately ensuring that it gets recycled.

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