The winners of this year’s Best Recycled Product of the Year Award were announced at a gala dinner in Pretoria recently.
The winner of the 2013 SAPRO Trophy for the Best Recycled Product is the Sunlight Dishwash Bottle from Unilever SA. Recycled material for the Sunlight bottle is supplied by Extrupet. The bottles are injection stretch blow moulded by Nampak Petpak in Isando.
“One of the limitations to introducing recycled bottles is customer perception, because consumers are used to buying products in what they believe to be perfect bottles”, explained Douglas Greig, Chairman of the South African Plastics Recyclers Organisation (SAPRO) who hosted the 4th annual gala dinner and awards ceremony.
Brands such as Sunlight have a great heritage with consumers and are often seen to lead the way. If the major brands are proactive in adjusting their packaging to create a better environment, consumers often view this as a very positive step, because they have the market impact and volumes to actually make a difference. In addition, major brands have the financial muscle to influence and educate suppliers, retailers and consumers alike and there is a positive knock-on effect down the supply chain and into the home”, Greig said.
Currently in its fourth year, this annual competition is hosted in collaboration with Plastics|SA and forms one of the highlights of the local plastic industry’s Clean Up South Africa Week (16-21 September 2013) – an initiative that encourages South Africans to clean-up and recycle where they work, live or play.
Plastics recycling in South Africa
Explaining the purpose of the competition, Greig said the event, known as Oscars of the Plastics Industry, acknowledges recycled plastics products and encourages brand owners and industrial designers to consider recycled plastics as a material of choice.
“Plastics recycling is an important part of end-of-life plastics products and South Africa is doing well with only mechanical recycling. This annual event is an important vehicle to educate the media, public and even the plastics industry about the magnitude of plastics recycling locally”.
Approximately 19% of all plastics products that were manufactured during 2012 were recycled in the same period. Says Greig: “The recycling rate is increasing very slowly – too slow to make a huge impact on the plastics waste going to landfill every year. As a result of the increasing population, urbanisation and a growing middle-class society, the tonnages going to landfill is increasing faster than the tonnages recycled”. Addressing the audience during the gala dinner, Greig stressed that recycled plastics are in huge demand in South Africa. “Our recyclers cannot produce enough material to meet the demand”, he said.
Sadly, however, the price converters are willing to pay for recycled material does not reflect the demand as recycled material is often still perceived as being second grade or poor quality, inconsistent and non-reliable raw material source. “This is far removed from the truth as this competition has one again proved that recycled plastic is versatile, strong and extremely reliable”.
The products entered
A wide variety of different products with different uses and applications were entered into this year’s competition. All of these products were made from recycled plastic and reflected a wide market acceptance and approval from the consumer. This competition was also well supported by brand owners, retailers, converters and the media who are all encouraged innovation and improved methods of recovery and design when using plastic as the material of choice.
Gold Awards went to the following:
- Checkers carrier bag by Tuffy Promotions – 100 % recycled content
- Genius Smart Shoe Soles for smart kids by Novita Shoes – 100 % recycled content
- Sunlight Dishwash bottle by Unilever SA, containing 50% recycled content, for the category percentage post-consumer recycled content.
Silver Award winners were:
- Plastic Droppers by Plastic Droppers – 100 % recycled content
- Combination rake headÂÂÂÂÂÂ by Lasher Tools – 100 % recycled content
- Pallet corner block by Skyprops – mixed recycled content
- Organics Recycled Range – Unilever SA (25% recycled content, in the category for products containing a percentage of post-consumer recycled content
- Woolworths Earth Friendly cleaning range (30% recycled content) for the category percentage post-consumer recycled content
- Lifestyle range by Eco Smart in the category Novel and Artistic Products
- Furniture and Sculptures by Bongani Khumalo of Ababhali
A panel of plastics experts judged the entries based on various criteria, which included:
- Life expectancy of product
- Sustainability and long-term demand and market acceptance for product (i.e. will it still sell in 5 years’ time?)
- Tonnage (potential tonnages) diverted from landfills and converted into a product
- Replacement of alternative materials
- Technical achievements in manufacturing excellence to overcome recycled material challenges
- Measures taken to ensure product consistency and customer satisfaction despite recycled material content
- Potential to create consumer awareness of plastics recycling, and the
- Wow! Factor
Concludes Greig: “The products seen at this year’s competition were all clearly meeting their customers’ demands and are able to perform in rigorous and tough applications. These products are used because they have established themselves in their own rightful places. None of these products need any special marketing as a “recycled” product – they have their own identities”, Greig says.