What is a
“A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.” (nature.org)
“Your carbon footprint — or your impact on the environment — measures the greenhouse gases that you are responsible for creating. Common activities like using electricity and driving a car emit those gases.” (gaiam.com)
The Carbon footprint is a standard measure of all Greenhouse Gasses (“GHG”) depicted as a single unit standard of the most abundant emission being Carbon Dioxide (CO2). There are far more damaging GHG’s such as Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6) used in electrical switchgear where 1-ton has an impact on our environment – equivalent to 22 800-tonnes of CO2 (i.e. 1-ton of SF6 = 22 800 tonnes of CO2)
What is the result of
The average person, in the world, contributes to nearly 4 metric tons (Nature.org) of carbon emissions per year. As at 2018, South Africa ranked as the 11th highest, in the world (statista.com), for carbon emissions amounting to 8.06 tons (468m tons of emissions / 58m people), per person per year.
This has an impact on Global Warming which leads to extreme changes in weather patterns increasing frequency and severity of floods, droughts, hurricanes and excessively high temperatures in heat waves – resulting in ecological and health impacts on animals and humans. Global average temperatures have increased between 1850 to 1961 by 0.4oC and by 0.7 oC between 1961 and 2019 (ourworldindata.org)
THE IMPACT OF PLASTIC
Plastic pollution is having a negative impact on our oceans and wildlife health.
In 2010 global primary production of plastic was 270 million tonnes and global plastic waste was 275 million tonnes. By 2015, the world had produced 7.8 billion tonnes of plastic — more than one tonne of plastic for every person alive today! (ourworldindata.org)
Apart from the process of making plastics, plastics itself does not contribute to a Carbon Footprint. Rather, plastic is a pollutant that remains in our environment forever and takes thousands of years to disintegrate. Plastics largely accumulate in our oceans after making their way via storm water systems. They are responsible for killing innocent wildlife and breakdown into micro plastics which are being consumed by fish which ultimately is being consumed by humans.
503 600 tonnes of plastics was collected for recycling in South Africa in 2019. This equates to an input recycling rate of 45.7%. The input method calculates how much plastic have been collected for recycling whilst the output rate gives a percentage of how much plastic was processed and sold as new raw materials. South Africa converted 337 745 tonnes of recycled material in new products in 2019. (plasticsinfo.co.za)
By using Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), we are recycling product that was destined to landfill which will contribute directly to the country’s output rate of recycling.