South Africa: The Life of Plastic in SA - Foul or Fantastic?

analysis

There is no getting around the fact that plastics are useful, but how useful are they after consumers throw them into the trash? And how well is the country whose 'national flower' was once a plastic bag doing compared with the rest of the world?

Plastics are durable, and are widely used in infrastructure as well as in the medical and food industries. But their durability has also made plastics a serious environmental hazard. From microplastics at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, to the ever-growing Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it is clear that plastics have permeated every facet of life on Earth.

Most consumers encounter plastic in the form of packaging - from milk bottles to bubble wrap, it is almost impossible to shop for anything that has not been packaged in plastic at some point.

But according to Johann Conradie, director of the plastic recycling company MyPlas, plastic packaging is beneficial to consumers.

"There are nearly eight billion people in the world. Think of a cucumber. Without plastic, that cucumber is rotten in a few days. With plastic, it's still edible in a week or more. We just couldn't feed everyone without plastic."

But once plastic has been...

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