To increase sustainable plastic solutions, University of Johannesburg has joined the South African Plastics Pact.    

The South African Plastics Pact (SAPP) has welcomed the University of Johannesburg (UJ) as the first academic institution to become a supporting member.  

The pact is part of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation Plastics Pact Network. It connects 11 unique national and regional initiatives worldwide dedicated to developing sustainable plastic solutions. 

The SAPP focuses on the country’s plastic packaging sector. It is working towards a circular economy prioritising reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging. 

Home plastic recycling bin logo taken in Bryanston, Johannesburg. Photo: Jessica Bunyard

UJ’s active participation in influencing the plastics value chain made it eligible as the first academic institution to be a supporting member. As such it will be able to influence a larger network of organisations along the plastics value chain, as well as those conducting research in the plastics sector. 

UJ´s Process Energy and Environmental Technology Station (PEETS) approached the pact through GreenCape, a non-profit organisation that leads the SAPP. 

“UJ is an active participant in the action groups that allow for collaboration across the membership and drive progress towards SA Plastics Pact targets,” said Deshanya Naidoo, a circular economy analyst at GreenCape.  

The network provided by UJ and the SAPP within the action groups will facilitate more resources and connections for projects that promote more sustainable use of plastic packaging.  

Katharina Gihringthe research coordinator at the UJ-PEETS project who leads the pact at UJ, said they are looking at UJ and the plastic waste it generates. 

“UJ is recycling quite a bit of its plastic waste,” she said. ‘‘But what we are planning to do in future … is a plastic audit on the campus.’’ This would determine what plastic categories the university produces and create solutions to further recycle while reducing plastic consumption.   

UJ is working with the faculty of art, design and architecture on a sustainable plastic packaging design. The SAPP has a 2025 target to redesign unsustainable packaging. The university’s faculty of humanities is working on a communication strategy between SAPP and its members. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Plastic waste at Cottesmore Park, Johannesburg. Photo: Jessica Bunyard