In the meantime, if you want to help the recycling process

"Be very wary of payment 'holidays' on loans or cars," Wendy Knowler shares

When Covid saw people’s income reduced or destroyed, the offer of a payment holiday seemed like a lifeline, but it came at a cost, as Consumerwatch’s WENDY KNOWLER reveals…


Short payment holiday, long pay-back

In this case, the consumer, who I’ll call Indira, says Sanlam Personal Loans didn’t tell her that her six-month payment holiday was going to add not 20 months to her loan term.

Indira took out a R120 000 loan from Sanlam in 2019, via Direct Axis, over a 60-month term, paying a monthly repayment instalment of R4400. So all going well, she’d have repaid R264 000 over five years in settlement of that R120 000 loan.
But all didn’t go well; Covid happened, and it affected Indira’s income, so when she got an SMS from Sanlam with an offer of a payment holiday, she said yes.

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A phone call happened after that, a phone call in which, Sanlam insists, all the financial implications of that choice were fully explained. But either she didn’t listen properly or they nitty gritties weren’t properly spelt out, because Indira was recently appalled to find out that her loan term was extended by 20 MONTHS from 60 months to 80.

So she’ll end up paying R325 600 for that R120 000 loan, or R61 600 more than she would have, had she not taken that payment holiday.
That’s one very expensive holiday!
Almost 4500 people with personal accepted a payment holiday, with the average “holiday” being four months.
So be very wary of payment “holidays” on loans or cars or whatever.  That brief respite comes at a very hefty price.

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The tide turns on plastic straws

Plastic waste management is a growing concern across the globe, with plastic drinking straws identified as a major contributor to this problem. 

A major challenge with plastic straws is that they are too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter and therefore difficult to recycle. The only way to tackle this problem is to move away from plastic straws altogether. 

To this end, a few weeks ago Ceres Fruit Juices - part of the PepsiCo group and the largest fruit juice packaging operation in Africa announced the introduction of eco-friendly straws - ie paper ones - on some of its juice packs.

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In time all Ceres 200ml packs will migrate from plastic straws to paper straws. 

The straw - called CelluStraw - is paper with just a 2.5% to 3% glue. Ceres says the  glued straw  was put  through the recyclability test by an external test lab called CTP in France and was found to have a high fibre yield.

The Beach Co-op Organisation,  an NGO which grew out of a group of avid surfers and ocean lovers which began cleaning the rocky shore at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg in 2015 every new moon has identified what they call the Dirty Dozen based on what they pick up on the beach every month. 

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So these are the worst pollution culprits, in this order:

Sweet wrappers
Cooldrink lids
Sucker sticks
Chip packets
carrier bags
Cooldrinkk bottles
Fishing line
Water Bottles
Cigarette lighters

And there’s a new one on that list - face masks.

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A major driver of design change are the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations which from November 5 will make businesses more accountable for the impact their products have on the environment. So we’re going to see a lot of changes, such as this paper straw on fruit juice cartons, hitting the market.

They are going to have to work with recycling organisations which focus on the various forms of packaging waste to ensure that what they put out gets recycled rather than ending in landfills or polluting our public spaces, especially our beaches and oceans.

READ MORE: Beware the non existent puppy scam, says Consumerwatch’s Wendy Knowler

About those bottle tops - number two on the Dirty Dozen list - moves are afoot to introduce a tethered cap, one that stays attached to the bottle, in the same way as the tabs on cans stay on the can when it’s opened, which is why we don’t see those little silver tab as litter all over the place.

In the meantime, if you want to help the recycling process, put the cap back on the bottle when you are finished with it. 

Contact Wendy

Get in touch with Wendy via her website or her Facebook page. Please note that Wendy is not able to personally respond to every email she receives. If she is able to take up your case, she will contact you directly. Here are other avenues for you to consider.

Listen to more podcasts from Wendy Knowler in the Consumerwatch channel below: 

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