Extrupet has finalised the expansion of its food-grade recycled PET plant, increasing the current processing capacity from 20 000 to over 30 000 tonnes per annum, to facilitate the growing demand for rPET.
As PETCO continues to believe that growth in rPET production and consumption is ultimately key to ensuring the sustainability of both the PET and recycling industry, rPET is not the only end-use product they support.
In 2019, most of the bottles collected still went into the production of Polyester Staple Fibre (PSF), which is exported and used locally by the textile and clothing industry.
They have also supported the establishment of two PET strapping plants, which provide an essential end-use for coloured PET bottles.
Unfortunately, South Africa still imports much of the strapping used locally and PETCO would like to encourage their members to support circular initiatives like local PET strapping producers. Their recyclers are constantly looking for new applications for recycled PET that either diversify their market or increase demand.
On the topic of the expansion, Extrupet joint managing director Chandru Wadhwani, said that the completion of the R200-million Bottle-to-Bottle plant upgrade marks the culmination of an investment journey that started in 2018.
“PETCO’s support and that of their membership was pivotal in the original investment decision, without which we would be another two years from being able to grow collection volumes in South Africa and divert even more waste from landfill.”
The expansion project kicked off in September last year, with Covid-19 causing unanticipated delays in the roll-out.
“The equipment that arrived in March this year has now finally been removed from the boxes and positioned in the plant. Start-up is estimated to happen within the next few weeks,” said Wadhwani.
Since its introduction to the local market in 2012, rPET demand has grown slowly but steadily, with many seeing it as a cheaper alternative to virgin resin. Unfortunately, virgin pricing has declined significantly in recent years, putting rPET production under economic pressure.
However, the need for “green” credentials to satisfy consumer expectations has seen an increasing number of brands committing to using rPET. In 2019, despite the closure of Mpact Polymers, more than 21 500 tonnes of rPET was sold in South Africa.
The Extrupet expansion will now allow brand owners to specify even higher levels of recycled content. These demands will only increase as brand owners aim to meet targets set by pacts. PETCO is a supporting member of the South African Plastics Pact.
The SA Plastics Pact provides a platform for collaboration and concerted action. All stakeholders involved have signed up to a joint set of ambitious and time-bound targets, ensuring that this collaboration will drive significant change by 2025.
The SA Plastics Pact will build on the positive work started by other initiatives and help scale up and disseminate good practice more quickly.
By 2025, The SA Plastics Pact will transform the country’s plastic packaging sector by meeting four ambitious targets:
- Taking action on problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (re-use) delivery models
- 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable*
- 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled
- 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging
By meeting these targets, the SA Plastics Pact will also stimulate job creation in the South African plastics collection and recycling sector, and help to create new opportunities in product design and reuse business models.
One of the first actions after launch is the development of a high-level roadmap for delivery to outline a detailed action plan to meet the 2025 targets – from all actors in the system. WRAP has secured funding to support with this, and GreenCape has been appointed as the secretariat.
In addition to the expansion allowing brand owners to specify even higher levels of recycled content, it will strengthen South Africa’s position as a circular economy leader in Africa and place us competitively within the global packaging market.