Innovative recycled products including a world first were rewarded recently at the South African Plastics Recycling Organization’s (SAPRO) second annual Best Recycled Product Competition award ceremony. The winners were announced at a gala dinner at the Midrand Conference Centre.
The competition formed part of Clean Up South Africa month, an initiative of Plastics SA that encourages South Africa to clean up and recycle in their communities, in their schools and where they work.
‘We think it is fitting that the winners were announced on the eve of Recycling Day that took place on Friday, 16 September,’ says Douglas Greig, chairman of SAPRO.
‘We were pleasantly surprised by both the number and the quality of entries we received when we launched this competition last year,’ says Greig. ‘[But] we were thrilled with both the quality and quantity of the entries we received this year, proving that the plastics recycling industry is growing in size, sophistication and value.’
In order to encourage even greater participation and entries by local converters and innovators, this year’s competition had three distinct product categories:
- Products made from 100% recyclate.
- Products containing a certain percentage post-consumer recycled content.
- Products made from a mixture of post consumer recycled materials.
A panel of plastics experts was asked to judge products based on the following criteria:
- The life expectancy of the product.
- The sustainability, long term demand and market acceptance of the product.
- The potential tonnage diverted from landfills and converted into a product.
- The replacement of alternative materials.
- The technical achievements in manufacturing excellence to overcome recycled material challenges.
- The measures taken to ensure product consistency and customer satisfaction despite recycled material content.
‘Some people think plastic cannot be recycled. They think it can cause diseases and that it contributes to the hole in the ozone layer,’ said Anton Hanekom, Executive director of Plastics SA. ‘But even though recycling is the buzz word of our time, it is certainly not the flavor of the month.’
18% plastics currently recycled
He went on to say that only 18% of plastic in South Africa is currently being recycled.
‘There is a market; we just need to develop it. We have to change mindsets so consumers will realize that recycled products are just as good as other products.’
Hanekom also congratulated SAPRO for creating interest in recycled products and thanked the participants in the competition for giving the recycled material ‘a second and much prettier life’.
The master of ceremonies, Simon Gear, announced the winners. In the 100% post-consumer recyclate category Firstform received a silver award for its Plastic wood effect furniture feet (below), while Gundle API walked away with the gold award for their three-layer co-extruded damp- and waterproofing membranes.
In the category for a product containing a percentage of recyclate, Mouldings and Frames International and Supreme Mouldings both received a silver award for their decorative picture frame mouldings made from recycled polystyrene.
Polypet walked off with the gold award for its Woolworths 1,5 litre juice bottle, which represents PET recycling company PETCO‘s commitment to Extended Producer Responsibility.
Ecology Plastics was awarded the silver award in the category for mixed recycled materials for its Two Seater Storage Bench, while Tufflex Plasctic Timber Products received the gold award for its Sleeper Bench.
Special Merit Awards were also awarded to E-Yako Green for their range of products made from recycled PVC.
Heath Nash also got a Special Merit Award, for his Bottle Ball Light.
The PACSA trophy for the Best Recycled Product of the Year went to Polypet for the 1,5 litre juice bottle manufactured especially for Woolworths, which impressed the judges with both its recycled contents and consumer acceptance.
World first for accreditation
Recycled material for the bottles were supplied by Extrupet, who invested in a world class recycling facility to enable them to produce recycled materials good enough for food contact. They received international accreditation by the Bureau Veritas Certification (BVC) for their recycling process, making them the first in the world to have achieved this level of accreditation.
‘This bottle is an excellent example of how major retailers can influence an industry when they make a commitment towards environmental responsibility and sustainability,’ says Cheri Scholtz, Chairperson of Plastics SA‘s Sustainability Council and CEO of PETCO.
Douglas Greig concluded by saying ‘Woolworths embarked on their Good Business Journey a few years ago, and making use of recycled plastic in their food packaging is a major vote of confidence in the safety and quality of products manufactured in the South African recycling industry. In our opinion, this year’s winner represents a significant step in the right direction with regards to the reduction of packaging waste material and providing additional economic benefits to society and the economy as a whole.’