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Environmental Health

3 May 2024 Media Release: Ensuring Access to Safe Water: The Vital Role of Environmental Health Practitioners

Media Release: Ensuring Access to Safe Water: The Vital Role of Environmental Health Practitioners

3 May 2024

The Constitution of South Africa states that: “Everyone has the right to have access to sufficient water “(Section 27 (1) (b).

Water that is unsafe for consumption poses a serious health risk. Those at greatest risk of water borne diseases are infants, the elderly, immune compromised individuals, and those living in settlements without basic water supply and sanitation services.

This is why water quality monitoring is important and encompasses a range of actions by Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP), aimed at ensuring the safety and purity of water sources accessible to communities. These actions include the following:

  • Collecting water samples for laboratory analysis.
  • Conducting field test on public water supply sources.
  • Conducting inspections as part of Municipal Health surveillance programmes.

The role of the EHP: Water Quality Monitoring of Water tanker trucks: 

  • Water trucking refers to the bulk transport of water from the source to a storage facility near a distribution point. During the acute and stabilisation phases of an emergency, these trucks may be used to provide short-term transport of water to communal water points.
  • The water transported in tanker trucks to various identified sites within a community should be considered as originating from a non-water service authority source, as it is no longer within the closed reticulation pipe system.

Water is distributed through various methods, including:

  • Transportation by water trucks.
  • The filling of private and communal water tanks.
  • The filling of reservoirs affected by compromised reticulation system.

The role of the EHP:

  • Sampling the water source (tanker truck/tank) and the water provider’s source to verify compliance with SANS 241:2015 Specifications for drinking water.
  • Ensuring the driver maintains a logbook to keep record of when the water was sourced and where the water was sourced from.
  • Each logbook should also record the truck cleaning schedule.
  • Documenting pertinent details of the tanker trucks, including registration and vehicle description.
  • Providing health and hygiene education to the community, including the cleaning of tanks and ensuring clean containers are used for the collection of the water.
  • Ensuring tanker trucks are easily cleanable, equipped with lockable covers, and have screened air vents to prevent contamination from animals and insects.
  • The EHP must conduct daily visits to healthcare centres including the local clinics to monitor whether any water-related disease outbreaks have occurred and conduct related investigations to ensure the possible source of pollution.

Through these duties, EHPs play a critical role in safeguarding public health and ensuring the provision of safe and clean water to communities.

For inquiries and further information, please contact the respective individuals in charge:

Region Person in Charge Contact Number Address
Klein Karoo Region & Kannaland Region Desmond Paulse, Manager: Municipal Health (Klein Karoo) Tel: 044 272 2241, Cell: 083 678 6530 94 St John Street, Oudtshoorn
Mossel Bay Monique Anthony, Acting Chief Tel: 044 693 0006, Cell: 061 445 1932 C/O Sampson & Marling Street, Ext 23, Mossel Bay

Featured image caption: Garden Route District Municipality EHP, Linden Herwels, ensuring water trucks comply with prescribed procedures.

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26 March 2024 Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners from GRDM conduct health inspections at KKNK in Oudtshoorn

Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners from GRDM conduct health inspections at KKNK in Oudtshoorn

For immediate release
26 March 2024

This year the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) takes place in Oudtshoorn for the 28th time. The festival started on 23 March and will conclude on 31 March 2024.

Since the Municipal Health Services function is defined in the National Health Act, 2003 and includes the following Key Performance Areas such as Food Control, Solid Waste Management, Health Surveillance of Premises etc., the Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) commenced with inspections at the festival’s food stalls for compliance in terms of Regulation No. 638 of 22 June 2018.

During inspections the EHPs also provide food hygiene education to food handlers. By doing so, their efforts ensure that all food during storage, handling and preparation at food stalls are safe, wholesome, as well as fit for human consumption and conform to the applicable quality and safety requirements.

Currently, the team also carry out inspections and monitor public toilets, wastewater disposal systems, refuse disposal and removal, as well as ensuring that regulations relating to the smoking in public places and certain outdoor public places, are adhered to.

What are these Hygiene Guidelines for Food Stalls?

  1. Every food stall owner must be in possession of a Certificate of Acceptability in terms of R638 OF 22 June 2018.
  2. The COA must at all times be available at the food stall and also visible to the public.
  3. People working on the premises must be properly trained in food hygiene.
  4. Suitable protective clothing, which includes a full length apron and head covering, must be worn by all food handlers.
  5. Proper facilities must be provided for the storage of perishable foodstuffs at temperatures under 5°C for cold food and above 65° for warm food.
  6. All working surfaces must be made of smooth, dust free, non-absorbent and washable material.
  7. Cover and protect all foodstuffs from contamination by dust and insects.
  8. Smoking in food stall is prohibited.
  9. Keep a bucket or bowl with water, soap and preferable paper towels at hand for the wash and drying of hands.
  10. A dustbin with a tight lid must be available for use at all times.
  11. Animals may not be allowed in the food stall.
  12. If the natural ground surface of the premises is dusty, it must be covered with a dustproof, washable ground sheet.
  13. All pre packed food must be properly labeled. (Foodstuffs and Cosmetic and Disinfected Act, 1972) (Act no 54 of 1972). Provision must be made for the collection and storage of waste water until disposal thereof.
  14. The stall / premises where food is handled must at all times be kept clean and in a hygiene condition.

For more information or to report complaints relating to the festival or in general, contact the following GRDM offices:

Desmond Paulse, Manager: Municipal Health (Klein Karoo)
Klein Karoo Region & Kannaland Region
Address: 94 St John Street, Oudtshoorn
Tel: 044 272 2241 / Cell: 083 678 6530

Johan Compion, Senior Manager: Municipal Health & Environmental Services
Mission Street, Industrial Area, George
044-803 1525 / Cell: 082 803 5161

Caption: Environmental Health Practitioner from the GRDM Klein Karoo Municipal Health Office, Johan Smith, during an inspection performed at the KKNK. 

ENDS

18 March 2024 Media Release: GRDM Municipal Health Services continue to fulfill its role in Knysna and Bitou during March 2024

Media Release: GRDM Municipal Health Services continue to fulfill its role in Knysna and Bitou during March 2024

For immediate release
18 March 2024

During the month of March 2024, Environmental Health Practitioners from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) continued to fulfill their roll in the respective communities they serve.  Some of the activities in Knysna and Bitou areas included a visit, together with GRDM councillors, to Annie’s Daycare Centre in Rheenendal, a training session at The Crags Bread and Brew restaurant in Bitou, and an awareness session at the Paradise Manor Frail Care Centre in Knysna.

Knysna: GRDM donates mattresses to Annie’s Day Care in Rheenendal and educate children regarding proper hand washing techniques

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Portfolio Chairperson for Community Services, Ald. Nompumelelo Ndayi, recently visited Annie’s Day Care centre in Rheenendal near Knysna. Accompanying Cllr Ndayi, were GRDM and Local Ward Councillor, Cllr Hilton Stroebel, as well as officials from the GRDM’s Knysna Municipal Health Services Section.

This crèche opened its doors in 2020, to assist in the need for Early Childhood Development services in the Rheenendal area. In their quest to address these needs, Cllrs Ndayi and Stroebel handed over 18 mattresses to the principal of the crèche after Cllr Stroebel extended a warm welcome to all present who witnessed the proceedings that would ultimately contribute to a healthier and more comfortable learning environment for the children of the facility.

During her address, Ndayi said: “Since the crèche was registered, the facility grew rapidly which resulted in the crèche eventually not having sufficient mattresses for all the children. The principal approached the ward councillor for a possible donation – thank you for approaching us,” she added.

The event was concluded with the GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners led by Lindon Herwels, demonstrating proper hand washing techniques to learners with their caretakers present.

Principal and owner of the crèche, Ms Anne Barends, extended words of appreciation to the GRDM, particularly Ald. Ndayi and Cllr Stroebel for the generous donation to the facility, as well as Linden Herwels for educating the children about proper hand washing techniques.

Bitou: GRDM’s EHPs conducts Health and Hygiene training at Food Premises

Regulation R638 of 2018, under Act 52 of 1972, outlines comprehensive guidelines for food safety and hygiene practices. Together with the guideline, the Regulation also mandates that all food handlers undergo formal training in Health and Hygiene practices.

Garden Route District Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) responsible for the Bitou region, recently conducted a training session at one of the restaurants in the area, The Crags Bread and Brew.

The training covered essential topics such as the 5 Keys to Safer Foods, which include hygiene, separating raw and cooked foods, cooking food thoroughly, keeping food at safe temperatures, and using safe water and raw materials.

Moreover, R638 specifies structural requirements for food premises to ensure safe handling and preparation of food. These requirements encompass adequate ventilation, lighting, and drainage systems, as well as provisions for waste disposal and pest control. Additionally, the regulation mandates proper storage facilities, sanitation measures, and equipment maintenance to prevent contamination and ensure food safety.

In summary, Regulation R638 of 2018 underscores the importance of training food handlers in health and hygiene practices, adhering to the 5 Keys to Safer Foods, and maintaining appropriate structural standards in food premises to safeguard public health and promote food safety.

EHPs from GRDM therefore encourages all food premises in the Bitou region to comply with these requirements stipulated in the Regulations to ensure the best possible service to the communities it serve.

Knysna: EHPs from Garden Route District Municipality conduct Health and Hygiene Session at Frail Care Centre

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) from Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM’s) Municipal Health Services section in Knysna recently conducted and presented a Health and Hygiene education session to the staff of Paradise Manor Frail Care Centre.

The following information was presented to the staff, including food safety covering the five (5) keys to safer food; the prevention of food borne illnesses; all food handlers and Care Takers partook in the session and water quality (The premises is situated in a rural area and the treatment of water to ensure it complies with SANS 241:2015, formed part of the training). The session also included talks about safe storage and disposal of medical waste on the premises.

The owner, manager, caretakers, maintenance staff, as well as food handlers attended and participated in the session.

Feature Image: GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners, Linden Herwels, demonstrating proper hand washing techniques to a learner during their visit to Annie’s Daycare Centre.

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09 February 2024 Media Release: GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners Conducted Health Education at Kuyasa Clinic, Zone 9, Thembalethu.

Media Release: GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners Conducted Health Education at Kuyasa Clinic, Zone 9, Thembalethu.

For immediate release
09 February 2024

At the end of January 2024, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP), Yonwaba Sifo and Ivy Mamegwa visited Kuyasa Clinic located in Zone 9, Thembalethu. The purpose of the visit was to inform and educate clinic visitors about Typhoid fever.

According to Ivy Mamegwa, “Typhoid fever is one of the notifiable medical conditions in South Africa. It is caused by Salmonella Typhi. The disease is spread through faecal oral contamination and can be transmitted from person to person by direct contact or through ingestion of contaminated food or water. The importance of hand-washing was also emphasized”.

During the presentation, more than 50 patients were reached.  To those present, the GRDM EHPs demonstrated effective and correct hand washing techniques. They also taught the public what typhoid fever is, the causative agent, its symptoms, and how to prevent it. Common symptoms of Typhoid fever include: Headache, abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea etc.

The three most effective methods of preventing typhoid are:

  • Adherence to strict hand washing with soap and water after using the toilet and before handling food;
  • Provision of safe water; and
  • Adequate sanitation.

EHP Yonwaba Sifo said: “Typhoid fever patients should practice strict hand hygiene and should not prepare food until they have been proven to be infection-free”.

                                 Caption: EHPs  busy demonstrating the proper techniques of hand-washing.

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12 December 2023 Media Release: Potable water quality in the Garden Route is better than the norms of South Africa

Media Release: Potable water quality in the Garden Route is better than the norms of South Africa

For Immediate Release
12 December 2023

Recently the National Department of Water and Sanitation published the Blue Drop, Green Drop, and No Drop Water reports in South Africa for 2023. This report revealed the dire state of affairs when it comes to safe and clean drinking water in South Africa.

Of particular concern is the status quo in terms of potable water purification plants, identified as one of the main reasons for general water quality failing quality standards, this report cited the lack of technical and managerial capacity and competency as a major contributor.

The Blue Drop report indicated that the water supply across the country requires an additional four hundred qualified staff (203 technical staff and 197 scientists). It also found that about 67% of water treatment staff had no formal skills training and qualifications at all to operate at a water treatment site.

Load shedding also has a major negative impact on the functionality and day-to-day operations of water purification plants. Why? Because the pumping, treatment, and ultimate distribution of potable water are severely affected during extended periods of load shedding.

Where do Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) fit in?

A district municipality is mandated to render municipal health services in its particular area of jurisdiction. One of the most important focus areas of EHPs is water quality monitoring.

Water monitoring includes the following:

  • Mapping of water sampling sites;
  • Water sampling and analysis;
  • Establishing if adequate water provision is available to all communities (rural and urban);
  • Report back and communication regarding sample results (water service authority / non-water service authority); and
  • Mitigation measures (including health and hygiene awareness / applicable legislative law enforcement);

Water sampling sites include the following:

  • Drinking water reservoirs;
  • Water purification plants;
  • Communal taps;
  • Business premises;
  • Other identified areas;

Hundreds of water samples are taken every month in every local municipal area within the Garden Route. This includes the status of potable water supply to all communities.2

The outcomes of water samples are communicated to each local municipality in the region.

The region’s potable water quality is of a high quality in comparison with the national norm. Water sampling programs, as well as all the other water-related activities implemented by the EHPs, are purpose-driven and outcome-based in order to secure water safety in the district.

Feature Image: Shutterstock

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Media Release: Toddlers in Hessequa are taught proper hand washing techniques by EHPs

Media Release: Toddlers in Hessequa are taught proper hand washing techniques by EHPs

For Immediate Release
13 November 2023

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) in the Hessequa region recently conducted a practical health and hygiene awareness session with toddlers about handwashing techniques and recycling. GRDM Portfolio Councillor Jobieth Hoogbaard, supported by Alderlady Nompumelelo Ndayi, donated mattresses to the Sunbeam Childcare Facility in Melkhoutfontein, Still Bay. The same créche where the EHPs conducted their health and hygiene awareness session.

Councillors of the GRDM with the mattresses donated to the school.

During the morning’s activities, both councillors participated in handwashing activities, and the children enjoyed the demonstrations. This kind gesture by the GRDM councillors was greatly appreciated by the personnel. They indicated that the donation was much needed and reiterated the importance of rest for children during the school day.

In a brief interaction with the facility’s staff, Cllr Hoogbaard expressed his appreciation for the outstanding work they do to develop the children. He said he hoped to extend the program to other facilities in the area as early childhood development is such an important stage in a child’s life. During this time their full cognitive, emotional, social and physical growth is developed.

Featured image caption: Councillors Hoogbaard and Ndayi washed their hands with the toddlers and joined in the fun.

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11 October 2023 Media Release: Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA) on roadshow in the Garden Route

Media Release: Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA) on roadshow in the Garden Route

For immediate release
11 October 2023

Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA) roadshow focused on the Garden Route

The Health Professional Council is a statutory body established in Terms of the Health Professions Act, 56 of 1974, to protect the public and guide professions related to the Act.

As part of their yearly roadshow, board members of the Environmental Health Profession visited the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) on Monday, 2 October 2023, to engage with management regarding the future of Environmental Health. In attendance were also the GRDM Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu, Chief Financial Officer, Rian Boshoff, Manager, Municipal Health and Environmental Health Services, Johan Compion and GRDM Chief Environmental Health Practitioners of the various regions within the Garden Route. This engagement discussed the scope of the profession of Environmental Health, continued professional development (CPD) and Community Services for students.

On Tuesday, 3 October 2023 a conference was held as part of the roadshow, which was also attended by Environmental Health Professionals. The event took place at Oubaai Hotel and Resort, George.  The programme included presentations on current issues affecting the health and wellbeing of communities and the issue if illegal dumping, especially the illegal dumping sites, which is a country wide challenge. The need for research regarding illegal dumping was identified.

The rest of the presentations included ethical behaviour and decision-making by Environmental Health Practitioners registered with the HPCSA.

The HPCSA in conjunction with the twelve (12) professional boards that function under its jurisdiction including Environmental Health; and the Association is committed to:

  • Promote the health of South Africa’s population.
  • Determine standards of professional education and training.
  • Setting and monitoring fair standards of professional practice.

Feature Image: Environmental Health Practitioners attended the HPCSA roadshow in George.

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28 September 2023 Media Release: Klein Karoo and Mossel Bay EHPs celebrate World Environmental Health Day

Media Release: Klein Karoo and Mossel Bay EHP’S celebrate World Environmental Health Day

For immediate release
28 September 2023

The theme of World Environmental Health Day which is celebrated on 26 September 2023 was “Global Environmental Public Health: Standing up to protect everyone’s health each and every day”.

As part of the build–up activities towards World Environmental Health Day, the Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) in the Klein Karoo region engaged in various activities to reach out to food handlers, crèches and community members to create awareness about the impact of the environment on our overall health and well-being.

The emphasis of the various awareness actions was to convey the message of the importance of a clean environment to ensure a good quality of health and life.

Illegal dumping awareness was done at crèches and in the community and health and hygiene awareness information was provided to persons in charge of -and food preparers of food premises.

It is important that children learn from a very young age to prevent littering and waste pollution and to use acceptable and appropriate methods that are available to dispose waste effectively. A clean environment encourages outdoor play without fear of children being injured by playing near waste heaps and trash.

Community members were sensitised on the fact that a clean neighbourhood free from illegal dumping holds many benefits to our communities and that a clean environment is a healthy environment. No illegal dumping means no pollution from hazardous substances and chemicals that could cause damage to the soil, the air and the surrounding groundwater. An environment, free from illegal dumping prevents the presence of insects like flies and mosquitoes, rodents like rats and mice, as well as bad smells. It furthermore ensures the health, safety and well-being of communities

According to the World Health Organisation statistics, an estimated 600 million people in the world fall ill because of contaminated food. A shocking 420 000 of these cases end in death each year. Regulation 638 of 2018 requires that all food premises, new and existing, have to be in possession of a Certificate of Acceptability. Also, the person in charge of -and any other person(s) working on the food premises must be adequately trained in the principles and practices of food safety and hygiene. Additionally, new innovations in food production, as well as the re-emergence of food-borne diseases must be adequately addressed to adapt to the changing conditions and environments.

Furthermore, in Mossel Bay the GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners, serving the area, created awareness and shared valuable advice and useful information on how to keep food safe during periods of load shedding. The session took place at the Evethu Clinic.  As part of the programme, EHPs also disseminated pamphlets to visitors that were present during the session.

Click here to read more on how to keep food safe during loadshedding.

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21 September 2023 Media Release:  Build-up to World Environmental Health Day underway – Recycle and Re-Use Plastic Outreach at Diepkloof Kleuterskool and Sandenenzwe Crèche

Media Release:  Build-up to World Environmental Health Day underway – Recycle and Re-Use Plastic Outreach at Diepkloof Kleuterskool and Sandenenzwe Crèche

For Immediate Release
21 September 2023

With this year’s theme for the World Environmental Health Day being “Global Environmental Public Health: Standing up to Protect Everyone’s Health Each and Every Day,” Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) from all over the district have taken proactive steps to kick off awareness initiatives as early as possible.

Recognising the urgency of safeguarding our environment and the health of all individuals, a recycle and re-use plastic outreach session was conducted by EHPs from the George Municipal Health office on 19 and 20 September 2023 with learners of Diepkloof Kleuterskool and Sandanenzwe Crèche.

The outreach aimed to teach children sustainable methods of recycling and reusing plastic waste. To demonstrate to the children how recycled items can be reused, the EHPs created art and crafts using plastic bags and bottles they received from the school.

“This is the way we protect everyone’s health even when we are not present. Our goal is to reduce the plastic waste ending up at illegal dumping sites in our communities and at landfills,” said Nonkosi Somwahla, EHP from the GRDM George office.

Educators and toddlers were captivated by the way EHP conveyed their message. Also with all the interesting things they made out of plastic.

Featured image caption: Environmental Health Practitioners, Cllr Ndayi, the Community Services Portfolio Chairperson, and the educators and toddlers of Sandanenzwe Crèche who participated in the World Environment Day build-up activities.

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20 September 2023 Garden Route District Municipality and stakeholders collect nearly 500 bags of waste, including recyclable materials, in Thembalethu

Garden Route District Municipality and stakeholders collect nearly 500 bags of waste, including recyclable materials, in Thembalethu

Representatives from the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries & the Environment (DFFE), with the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs & Development Planning, Garden Route District and George Municipalities, Cape Nature and stakeholders from the Private Sector including John Dory’s and the Spur Foundation, embarked on a clean-up operation near the Schaap-kop River on 15 September in Thembalethu, George.

The clean-up operation included 65 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) members, including a Working-on-Fire Team from George. The programme formed part of the Clean-Up and Recycle – South Africa initiative and was also part of the International Coastal Clean-Up Day that is celebrated in September each year. Approximately 100 participants, with the stakeholder representatives, rolled up their sleeves to clean up the littered area.

A few bags of waste collected at the site during the cleanup operation.

On behalf of CapeNature, Stakeholder Engagement Officer, Thabiso Mokoena, said that with the initiative and the impact of pollution on the environment, he hopes that it will inspire the community to do better in terms of how household waste is disposed of.  Katt Perry, Senior Manager at John Dory’s, said that they have a vested interest in the project, and she stressed that “if waste comes through the river, it will end up in the oceans and eventually, we won’t be able to help the fish that are disappearing”. Perry thanked participants present for their hard work and said: “It takes that one person to make a difference”.

Dawid Adonis, Director for Community Services at George Municipality, during his remarks said: “We need to make sure that we keep the environment clean – we need communities to assist us to keep our environment clean and take responsibility”. In addition, he said: “Each and every one of us is an ambassador to make sure that our households use the bags and separate household waste as it will help the municipality to take less waste to the landfill facility”.

Before the groups went into different directions, each with refuse bags, GRDM’s Waste Management Officer, Innocentia Sikweyiya, explained the purpose of the various bags and what waste types are allowed in the different bags”.

At the end of the event, more approximately 320 black bags and nearly 50 recyclable bags were collected. Thank you to all stakeholders and participants who formed part of this initiative.

Stakeholders and members from the WOF and EPWP teams during the Cleanup operation in Thembalethu.

Did you know?

  • BLUE/CLEAR bags are used for non-soiled recyclable materials, including plastic, paper, cardboard, glass etc.
  • GREEN bags are for green waste, including organic kitchen waste such as fruit and vegetable peels, as well as garden waste, including grass cuttings, leaves etc. No soil is allowed in green bags.
  • BLACK bags are for ‘wet’ waste, things that cannot be recycled.

How do you recycle?

  • PAPER that CAN be recycled: office paper, newspaper and magazines, cardboard (boxes flattened), brown paper bags, take away containers (food removed and rinsed), milk and juice cartons (rinsed and flattened) and books (hard covers removed).
  • PAPER that CANNOT be recycled: napkins, tissue paper, paper towels, wax paper, laminated or waxy paper, punch confetti, carbon paper and stickers.
  • METAL that CAN be recycled: cooldrink and beer cans, food tins (rinsed clean), metal lids of glass, jars, aluminium cans, rusty cans can be recycled and recycled batteries (taken to correct depot).
  • METAL that CANNOT be recycled: batteries, motor oil cans, paint and aerosol cans, and tinfoil.
  • GLASS that CAN be recycled: all colours of glass bottles and jars, beer and wine bottles (rinsed).
  • GLASS that CANNOT be recycled: mirrors and windows, ceramic, crystal, drinking glasses and light bulbs.
  • PLASTIC that CAN be recycled: all plastics numbers 1-7 (rinsed), grocery and retail plastic bags (clean) and milk sachets.
  • PLASTIC that CANNOT be recycled: cling wrap, and polystyrene (is recyclable but no facility on Garden Route for now).

ENDS