February / March 2015

February / March 2015


Unexpected growth of rPET demand

OUR main story this issue is about the expansion of Extrupet’s PhoenixPET plant in Johannesburg. Extrupet is in the process of tripling its food-grade rPET capacity, and will in the near future be producing about 1750 tons a month of the material.

That is a substantial quantity of material, and a significant technological feat too. Extrupet’s project is in response to demand from a number of the brand groups to include recycled grade material in their packaging. PET, undoubtedly, offers one of the most direct routes for the generation of ‘r’ grade material, as it’s relatively easy to recognise PET containers and the collected material usually contains little colour additive. But after that it gets complicated: the technology involved is more complex than for the reprocessing of polyolefins.

At the same time, SAFrePET in Cape Town has also entered the rPET market, via a different route, however, with a system that it constructed itself. Here we look at another example of how businessmen can achieve their goals – with ingenuity, determination and, probably most importantly, experience. Well done guys!

Is it safe to speak up, yet?

Professor Ben Turok, the retired ANC MP, castigated the audience at Plastics/SA’s AGM late last year in a good-natured manner, but when he accused the audience of being ‘supine’ he may have struck a nerve. For those not familiar with this seldom used term, supine essentially means to offer very little resistance – in fact, no resistance. Turok was referring to the industry’s reluctance to engage with government, and suggested that it was no surprise that the government often promulgated legislation with little consultation with the industry. He suggested that we were really to blame for the situation.

We know the stakes are high and also that the industry does have several very capable and well-informed spokesmen … so where is it going wrong? We need to find a solution, somehow, and urgently.

Elsewhere, in a related context, we run a summary of the Department of Environmental Affairs’ proposed waste management charges, in its draft regulations released in February. This is essentially a lengthy document outlining the structures that DEA may apply in order to incentivise re-use, recycling or recovery of waste. Economic opportunities may also be created in the process, which is very necessary if we are to achieve a ‘win-win’ result.

The well-researched draft document does invite members of the public to respond. So, in a flash, we have an opportunity to engage creatively with government. We had 60 days as at early February in which to do so. It’s hardly incumbent on individual businessmen to participate, although some may, but many will look at the industry’s professional associations to take responsibility here and engage with the DEA fully on the topic. We hope POLYCO, PETCO, SAPPMA, SAVA and others can achieve a good result for the industry.

We have a substantial amount of news from the associations this issue too, about their many and varied programmes and activities.

What’s coming up in 2015

We end with a larger than normal DIARY section, which – if you are planning to travel this year – may help you plan. Our industry has been built up by taking strategies from elsewhere in the world and redeveloping them for local use, so here’s your opportunity.

May the year ahead be good for you and your businesses … it has to be!

Martin Wells,