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Q&A with Handy Mac: Plastic container dilemma

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Anonymous reader needs advice on what to do with the empty five-litre plastic containers used for bottled water

A long-time reader of the column who wants to remain anonymous sent in the following:

Q: With the water crisis in Cape Town, I’m sure many people have the same problem I’m experiencing. What to do with the empty five-litre plastic containers used for bottled water?

They are piling up and I don’t want to dump them. I have spoken to recyclers about buying them from me. Some only accept bales while others take only HDE and not PET bottles.

If any of your readers know about recyclers, preferably in the Montague Gardens area, who will buy them they can let me know through your column or, if you aren’t too busy, please forward their suggestions to me.

A: This is something we are all battling with so I decided to ask the question on Facebook on the Water Shedding Western Cape page. The following are a selection of replies that came in.

“Oasis Recycling.”

“The Owl Rescue have collection points.”

“Put it out for the poor to collect and sell for bread money. If you have the means to buy water maybe it can be your donation to society.”

“Donate to boat builders or recycle as plant containers.”

“I sell water in M/gardens so reuse your bottles and fill them up at R6 for 5l. I’m also looking for 5l bottles as I want to donate water to the old-age home in Milnerton. We’re located in Dawn Road, or call me on 0842517786.”

“Donate to animal shelters. They can use them to contain grey water or for other functions, especially for cleaning kennels.”

“I use them to store water from roof downpipes then use it on the garden or to flush the pan. Even a light shower can deliver 50 litres.”

“There’s a laundry at Table View shopping centre that will fill your bottles with spring water for R8 per 5l. There must be others.”

“The City of Cape Town has many recycling drop off points across the city. Check here for one near you:…/Our…/Drop-off%20facilities.”

“Store them for Day Zero 2019.”

What thrills me is the number of people who are still committed to saving water and doing the right thing. For those of you who have not been to this Facebook page. it is well worth a visit.

I contacted my anonymous friend and he replied to the above list:

Hi Don,

Thanks. I will give some of these people a call, or leave the bottles for the “homeless” to collect on the next refuse day.

Here are s more suggestions:

Recyclers, if they take them, will pay R1.60 per kg, so it’s not worth the petrol to take it there. Some take only PET and others HDE. I’m not sure how many empty 5l containers make up a kilogram. I think the price of the containers should have a deposit of 50c or R1, then people would take them back.

If anyone else has other ideas, please let me have them for publication. I like the idea of paying a deposit. This is not the forum, but maybe there is an idea here to assist with the plastic waste contaminating our world.

*Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, please send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB:

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