Manufacturing for sustainability

Manufacturing products comes with an increased awareness of sustainability and the strain on the environment, a significant aspect that is considered during the entire supply chain process. Post-consumer behaviour is leaning towards the concept of a circular economy, with a drive by industry and consumers to reduce the amount of waste that reaches the landfill.

Sustainability through recycling has reached an all-time high at one of our industry’s organisations; Petco. Their unique model is built on the simple principle of an ‘industry driven and financed environmental solution for post-consumer PET plastic’.

RPC Astrapak is proudly a voting member of Petco and contributes a rand amount per ton of material to Petco for the administration of diverting PET waste from landfill.

Understanding the necessary role that plastics packaging plays in our everyday lives, Petco also understands the role that industry and consumers need to play when dealing with post-consumer plastics.

Petco distributes the funds they receive across various streams, including investing in recyclers, and for education and marketing purposes. The bulk of the funding is used to promote recycling and recyclers.

A company like Extrupet, one of Africa’s largest PET bottle recyclers, is subsidised by Petco. By buying post-consumer plastic bottles from collectors, Extrupet pays the collectors per kilogram received, remunerating according to quantity as well as the quality of the used bottle. Quality is essential in order to recycle the material in bottle-to-bottle grade.

For the past three to four years, recyclers have been able to reconstitute PET to be used once again in food grade applications after the process was approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Prior to that, the recycled PET was used in the manufacture of non-food grade products including fillers for duvets and pillows, carpets, industrial applications and as a wood substitute.

Petco recently celebrated a new milestone in recycling, with a record 2.15 billion PET plastic bottles being recycled in 2017. This has set a post-consumer recycling rate of 65% of PET bottles, which has put South Africa on par with international standards – an incredible achievement and a perfect example of the potential to make a difference when channelling plastic waste in the right direction.

Petco quick facts, via http://petco.co.za/:

  • Recycling PET is sustainable. PET packaging can be made from up to 100% recycled PET, recapturing both the material and the inherent energy of the original package. It can also be recycled multiple times.
  • Recycling PET is good for the environment. Recycling PET bottles over the last ten years have saved a total of 651 000 tons of carbon, avoided using 2.7 million m3 of landfill space and reduced resource consumption. Recycling plastic bottles minimises the need for raw materials and saves energy. Recycling a single tonne of plastic bottles saves 1.5 tonnes of carbon versus landfilling or incineration. (Credit: Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production – WRAP).
Mylene Paynter