New products created from waste materials is one of the most exciting and creative aspects of our green industry. So it was fun to attend the awards ceremony of the Best Recycled Product of the Year.
And who would think that the humble Wheelie bin, which we all take for granted, would land such a high accolade? Indeed, the City of Cape Town and Mpact Plastic Containers were awarded the SAPRO Trophy for the Recycled Product of the Year for their Fifty/50 Wheelie Bin that was entered in the Recycled Content Category.
The gala awards ceremony took place at Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, as one of the highlights of Clean-Up and Recycle Week SA activities (14-19 September) and National Recycling Day that was celebrated around South Africa.
34 Products in four different categories made it to the finals of this year’s competition that was hosted by the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO) and Plastics|SA – the umbrella body of the local plastics industry. The aim of the competition is to acknowledge products that are made from recycled materials and to encourage brand owners and industrial designers to consider recycled plastics as a material of choice.
Talent runs broad and deep in our country
“We surely had high hopes when we launched our first Recycled Plastic Product of the Year Awards in 2010. Ambitious and optimistic as we were at the time, we had no idea just how impactful and prestigious this SAPRO initiative would become in later years. Each year that we host this competition, it is proven over and again that talent runs broad and deep in our country and that the plastics recycling industry has an important role to play in South Africa,” said SAPRO Chairman, Jaco Breytenbach.
This sentiment was echoed by the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Barbara Thompson (above), who officiated the opening of the awards by underlining the importance of partnerships and interaction with stakeholders in the industry.
SA one of the top mechanical recycling countries in the world
“In 2014, South Africa managed to recycle 315 600 tons of all plastics products manufactured, back into raw material. This is an impressive feat in anybody’s language, placing South Africa amongst the top mechanical recycling countries in the world,” Deputy Minister Thompson said.
Proof of the successes that can be achieved when public and private partnerships take hands to find solutions, could clearly be seen in the Fifty/50 Wheelie Bin that walked away with the overall honours of the night.
The City of Cape Town introduced 240 litre wheelie bins for refuse collection in 1991. Traditionally, these bins were made from 100 % virgin PE-HD, but the City of Cape Town recently drew up a specification for the wheelie bins to be manufactured from 50 % recycled PE-HD.
The recycled feedstock for the Fifty/50 wheelie bin is derived from the City of Cape Town’s end-of-life wheelie bins which are manufactured by Mpact Plastic Containers.
The new bins carry a 10 year guaranteed and are subject to all the testing and performance requirements as stipulated in SANS 1494:2007. The City accumulates broken and damaged refuse bins which are collected, cleaned and processed – all under the control of the City and the manufacturer in order to ensure an auditable trail. Currently, there are approximately 800 000 bins serviced weekly throughout the Mother City.
City created first closed loop system of its kind
“The Fifty/50 wheelie bin is ground breaking in that the City of Cape Town ignored the traditional concerns with regards to recycled products and compiled a specification for their product in order to ensure reliable, robust and quality performance. They created the first closed loop system of its kind set up between a public authority and a private manufacturer to ensure a steady supply of recyclate. In the last 7 months alone, the City of Cape Town collected 391 tons of bin material in exchange of new Fifty/50 bins. The judges agreed that this was a text book example of how the entire process should be managed as it paves the way for other municipalities in South Africa to follow suit,” commented Anton Hanekom, Executive Director of Plastics|SA and one of the judges of this year’s competition.
Other winners in this year’s competition were:
Novel and Artistic Products Category:
- Silver Award was awarded to Ningizimu and Afripack Consumer Flexible Labels for their Shopper Bags (above). The plain shopper bags have been designed and stitched by the Ningizimu School for the mentally challenged and are made from polypropylene shade-cloth off-cuts supplied by Afripack. These durable bags offer a viable and creative solutions for waste materials that would otherwise glean minimum recycle income. Strong colours and resilient materials, combined with a touch of imagination, can change the way in which we view post-industrial waste – and it can generate some revenue for disadvantaged communities. The entry shows how effectively plastics waste can be used in artistic and practical ways.
- Gold Award was awarded to E’Yako Green for their range of conference bags (above) that prove that eco-products don’t have to be boring. When it comes to bringing a unique, creative, yet sustainable offering to a conference setting, E’Yako Green are on the right track with their conference bags made from recycled PVC banners, which normally would have a very short life expectancy. Since 2013, E’Yako Green has up-cycled approximately 24 tons of PVC waste. They provide 13 full time jobs and have already exported their products to Australia, Austria, Switzerland, Norway and Germany.
Mixed Materials Category:
- Silver Award awarded to Aruba ICF Energy Efficient Walling Systems for their Greenlite Insulated Concrete made from recycled expanded polystyrene. Aruba ICF is currently busy with a large project in partnership with Motheo Construction at the Sandton Gautrain Station where Greenlite Concrete is being used to fill voids, to insulate and raise floor levels in all the new vendor shops at the station.
- Gold Award awarded to Trogtek for their 3m long water trough made from recycled plastics. The severe shortage of steel during the metal industries’ strike in the first half of 2014 resulted in Trogtek having to explore other means of construction. Plastic timber worked so well that the decision was made not to revert back to steel. Considerable savings were made in reduced transport, diesel, unit production time and work in progress costs.
Recycled Content Category:
- The Silver Award in this category was awarded to the Cross Polo wheel arch liner, which is made from recycled content polypropylene co-polymer. The product’s life expectancy is 15 years and intended to surpass this period based on design and manufacturing process controls. The recycled content was obtained from factory scrap and once all the trials have been made, has a potential of replacing 126 tons of virgin PP per annum.
- The Gold Award in this Category was the City of Cape Town and Mpact Container’s entry of the Fifty/50 wheelie bin and overall winner of the Best Recycled Product of the Year Award.
100 % Recycled Content Category:
- The first Silver Award went to USABCO (Pty) Ltd for their 68 litre Addis tote. Addis sells on average 11 000 units per month of this particular tote, which kept 240 tons of PE-HD from landfill in 2014 alone. The customers who buy these “Our black is now green” totes are often not even be aware that they are contributing towards zero plastics to landfill due to the fact that the product has a neat, well-finished appearance that impressed the judges.
- The second Silver Award in this category went to Tuffy Promotions for their green Checkers carrier bags that has reached iconic status in South Africa. It is manufactured from 100 % recycled material with a minimum of 75 % post-consumer waste. Both these claims are independently audited and verified by the SGS accreditation body. Tuffy produces approximately 200 million bags per year, a total of 200 tons per month of this carrier bag that delivers on all of its promises to the consumer.
- A third Silver Award in the 100 % Recycled Content category was awarded to Gundle API for their Anti-Termite Membranes which contains a pesticide in one layer to repel termites. This patented product has SABS and Agrement certification. It has been tested for 2 years without being breached by termites and is registered in terms of Act 36, because of the pesticide layer. The innovative value adding to a recycled damp course film impressed the judges.
- The Gold Award was awarded to Lavaplastic for their woven fencing which is manufactured from 100 % post-industrial, rigid PVC. It has been developed over a period of four years to replace traditional wooden fencing and provides a waste solution to many KZN companies currently dumping their PVC manufacturing waste at a great cost.
“Recycling is not regarded as a very glamorous industry. Conditions are tough and the work hard, but it is an industry that is fueled by passion and creativity. The SAPRO Best Recycled Product competition therefore offers the ideal platform to acknowledge recyclers and all the parties involved in the value chain for their commitment to diverting waste away from our country’s landfills.
For this reason, each of these entries could have been a worthy and well-deserved winner of the overall Best Recycled Product Award for 2015, as each finalist represented a wide cross-section of the markets for recycled materials.
Whilst recyclate will never be able to fully substitute virgin materials in many applications, but the innovative nature of the South African plastics industry linked to product development and increasing quality testing, many more markets will open for recycled materials in future. We look forward to seeing what the next year’s entries will bring,” Breytenbach concluded.