CAPE TOWN - One of the less obvious effects of the drought which has gripped Cape Town in recent years has been huge surge in bottle water sales and the associated plastic waste this has generated.

Now leading retailer Woolworths has stepped in and offered to take 500,000 plastic bottles - constituting about 15 metric tonnes of plastic waste - to a recycling facility in Gauteng where the bottles will be recycled.

Capetonians have taken to stocking up on bottled water as the city's major dams have come perilously close to running dry in recent months, while many residents now also drink mainly bottled water due to some discolouration in tap water and safety concerns around the quality of the drinking water.

Woolworths Holdings group head of sustainability Feroz Koor said: "With increased bottled water sales in the Cape Town area, we realised that this would put additional pressure on local recycling facilities.  

"The South African National Bottled Water Association and the PET Recycling Company (PETCO) confirmed this and approached us for assistance. We didn’t want these bottles to be redirected to landfills or end up on our streets so we offered to cover the costs to transport these bottles to Extrupet’s larger Gauteng recycling facility."

Joint managing director for Extrupet and PETCO board member Chandru Wadhwani said: "We welcome this support from Woolworths as 500,000 plastic bottles equates to approximately 15MT of plastic that is now on route to our Gauteng facility for processing and recycling back into Woolworths Food packaging."

African News Agency/ANA