It undoubtedly has a premium image – partly because of its cost, and partly because consumers like to see what they’re buying. Glass can be shaped, coloured and embossed to produce many brand recognition options, while its weight actually provides a sense of substance that consumers equate with quality. The barrier protection provided by glass is outstanding, and there are no worries about chemicals leaching into the product. On top of all those benefits, it’s easily recyclable – in fact it’s a valuable ingredient for making new glass packaging.
These benefits dovetail well with organic products, a small, but growing component of packaged foods and beverages. Organic products are generally sold at higher price points than standard products, allowing manufacturers to recover the cost of glass packaging. Consumers who opt for organic products often care about the purity of their products and the sustainability of their consumption habits, making glass preferable because it’s easily recyclable. With such closely aligned priorities and goals, glass packaging and organic products are fast becoming a common match.
In the developed world, organic products have experienced significant value sales growth over the past several years. Even through the recession, such products have performed well. According to Euromonitor International data, between 2003 and 2008, packaged organic food grew by 13% and organic beverages by 15%.
While Euromonitor International notes that the forecast for the next five years is expected to slow, they still expect to see a significant growth of 6% and 4%, respectively. So far, demand has been generated mainly from developed nations, but developing countries are beginning to opt for organic products as well, signifying room for organic products – and glass packaging – to grow.
Ed’s note: The above contains extracts from an article ‘Glass and organics make a good team’, written by Euromonitor International’s Josh Stock, and published in the December 2009 issue of US magazine, Packaging World.
South African glass market
GLASS is an important component of the South African packaging industry, traditionally accounting for 35% of tonnage throughput. According to BMI, the South African glass packaging industry is worth about R5,7-billion/ year and produces around 1 million tons (excluding decorative glass and tableware).
Says BMI’s research director, Dr Dana Braithwaite, ‘The glass market has done well over the last few years, particularly since the renewal project for returnable beer bottles. That project stopped in 2008 and, as a result, the glass market showed some volume contraction in 2009.’
Glass is traditionally strong in the alcoholic beverages category such as beer and wine. It also remains an essential packaging choice in food categories such as sauces and spreads (both sweet and savoury).
‘The packaging market is expected to be relatively flat in 2010, and glass is no exception. But growth is expected in 2011 as the overall economy improves,’ Dana says.
Improved glass recycling
ALTHOUGH South Africans have been slow off the starting blocks in the race to reuse and recycle glass, there’s evidence of a growing ‘green’ consciousness backed by action. Proof of this can be seen in figures released by The Glass Recycling Company (TGRC) in December 2009, showing that the volumes of waste glass recovered for recycling increased during last year.
According to TGRC’s CEO, Shabeer Jhetam, local glass recycling figures have climbed from 148 000 tons to 244 845 tons of glass/year – a massive increase of 65% in the three-year period since TGRC’s inception. In fact, in December 2009, a record 27 517 tons of glass was recovered for recycling.
‘These recycling rates would not have been possible without the combined commitment of glass manufacturers and fillers,’ says Shabeer.
Stoney Steenkamp, general manager of Nampak Wiegand Glass, who sits on TGRC’s board, says that Nampak is 100% committed to glass recycling in South Africa. As proof of this, the company has commissioned a R160-million glass recycling plant at its Roodekop site (see article below).
Consol Glass also serves on TGRC’s board, represented by Brian Rodger, group operations director. He reports that Consol Glass is investing in automated processing capacity in the Western Cape and Gauteng, in order to redress certain inefficiencies in the supply chain which limited the recovering of glass from the waste stream.
‘The success of the present business model is clearly evident in the increased number of jobs, development of entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged communities, and recycling volumes ahead of targets,’ Brian notes. ‘Consol’s commitment is constantly to review automatic processing capacity to ensure recycled volumes are not restricted.’
Between July 2006 and June 2009, TGRC has worked tirelessly to enhance the image of glass recycling in South Africa and during this period has notched up a string of achievements. As well as increasing public awareness of glass recycling and establishing TGRC as a recognised brand, the organisation successfully placed 1 300 new glass banks around the country and assisted more than 600 new glass entrepreneurs (buy-back centres), of whom some 80% are previously disadvantaged South Africans.
According to Shabeer, South African consumers are becoming aware of the ease and importance of recycling glass. ‘With that there’s a growing consciousness of the intrinsic value of glass and the merit of glass packaging,’ he adds.
The environmental advantages derived from recycling glass are clear. In manufacturing new glass products, resources (such as sand, soda ash, limestone, water and energy) can be saved when waste glass – known as cullet – is used instead of raw materials. As just one example, the energy saved from recycling a single glass bottle can power a 100W light bulb for four hours.
There’s also an increasing awareness of the fact that waste glass has a monetary value and can be sold to buy-back centres and recycling entrepreneurs. On a smaller scale, anyone can take returnable bottles back to the retail outlet to receive the deposit.
‘The increased glass recycling rates are great news for our country but this phenomenal growth trend needs to be sustained and further increased. Everyone must improve our collective futures by recycling their glass – even a small change in behaviour has a measurable benefit,’ Shabeer concludes.
Nampak makes glass work
NAMPAK Wiegand Glass – a partnership between Nampak and German glass manufacturer Wiegand Glas – recently commissioned a brand new glass recycling facility at its Roodekop site in Johannesburg.
The plant, in which Nampak Wiegand Glass has invested over R160-million, boasts state-of-the-art technology from Austrian supplier Binder + Co, and is expected to meet all Nampak Wiegand Glass’s processing and supply needs in the future.
Caption: Making glass work are Stoney Steenkamp (general manager, Nampak Wiegand Glass), Charles Bromley (chairman, Nampak Wiegand Glass), and Oliver Wiegand (MD of, Wiegand Glas in Germany).
Stoney Steenberg, general manager at Nampak Wiegand Glass, Roodekop, is full of praise for Binder + Co, and its team of committed and experienced directors and technicians.
‘They truly are the best in the world,’ Stoney enthuses.
Dramatically speeding up the manual process of sorting different colour glass waste is a high-resolution camera system, which recognises a wide colour spectrum and separates waste glass shards according to colour. Additionally, the new plant separates waste glass from other material, as well as cleaning sorted waste glass and delivering material that’s ready for use in the manufacture of new glass products.
Caption: PPM’s Susi Moore (second from right) joins Nampak Glass staff and customers on a tour of the new glass recycling plant at Roodekop.
The plant has been a year in the making and will help Nampak to meet its commitment to increasing glass recycling rates in South Africa – not only to benefit the environment but also the network of agents and informal collectors from whom post-industrial and post-consumer glass is sourced ‘We’re creating a holistic structure and the new process is making us a world-class player,’ comments Charles Bromley, chairman, Nampak Wiegand Glass.
Roadside waste to raw material
Customers, suppliers and media who attended the unveiling at Roodekop were invited to view an informal collection site to witness first-hand the ‘grassroots’ glass collection process.
The Siyasibenza waste management site near Roodekop is an informal buy-back centre for a wide range of waste, including glass products. Its customers bring collected waste to the site where it’s sorted, bagged and weighed, and they are paid a standard rate/kg of waste accepted.
Glass is consolidated into large skips by Zama Zama waste management collection, and transferred exclusively to Nampak Wiegand Glass.
Caption: Informal collectors bring waste to the Siyasebenza waste management site where it’s sorted, bagged and weighed. They’re paid a standard rate/kg of waste accepted.
Once at the Roodekop facility, the glass waste is put through an automated filtering and sieving process. However, Nampak maintains some manual inspection sections, in order to remove fragments of metal, plastic and stone still present after filtering and sorting.
According to The Glass Recycling Company (TGRC), there has been a significant growth in glass cullet recoveries during 2010. Speaking at the Nampak Wiegand Glass event, TGRC’s CEO, Shabeer Jhetam, explained that 290 000 tons of glass recovery is the target for this year, and by 2015 the aim is to reach a 50% glass recycling rate in South Africa (see article on previous page).
Caption: Collected glass waste travels by conveyer into the new glass recycling facility where it is filtered, sorted and eventually separated by colour via a hi-resolution infra-red camera system and blowers.
The Glass Recycling Company
Nampak Wiegand Glass
T +27 011 8650000