In mid-January uMhlanga Rocks’ whalebone pier became the latest site for GOBY, the 5m long steel fish that aims to reduce marine plastic pollution by encouraging people to dispose their plastic bottles into the structure. With 70kgs of plastic collected so far, the initiative located in a highly visible public area is proving to be successful. But where does the plastic go and what is it used for?
While the Goby Environmental Project focuses on educating South African families on the importance of reducing, reusing, recycling and removing plastic waste from our beaches and implementing priority sport development interventions for children, GOBY founder, Vaughn Bishop, provides an insight to the recycling process:
- The main plastics collected from the uMhlanga-based GOBY are PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) bottles. Once collected, they are transported to a central depot, sorted into numerous waste categories and then compacted into compressed units suitable for transportation to a larger recycling centre.
- At the recycling centre, the plastic is washed and separated. Some of the clean plastic waste is recycled and some goes to innovation projects.
- Although a rather complex process, the PET bottles collected by GOBY, having been diverted from landfill or littering, may be recycled back into bottles or even packaging sheeting used for thermoformed tubs and trays. PET bottles can also be recycled into fibres for clothing and domestic use, industrial application in geotextiles, tyre manufacturing and automotive carpeting.
- Some organisations recycle the plastic into moulds, creating plastic planks as an alternative to timber. Their carpenters then create plastic outdoor furniture, jungle gyms, decking, and may other plastic products that are extremely durable.
Vaughn says: “Because GOBY mainly collects PET bottles, those who dispose of their plastic bottles with us can rest assured their plastic is getting recycled responsibly and back into the economy.”