Other notable packaging winners in the same category, receiving Silver awards, were Unilever SA’s Organics recycled range, developed using 25% recycled content, and Woolworths’ Earth Friendly cleaning range, with 30% recycled content.
‘One limitation to introducing recycled bottles is customer perception, because consumers are used to buying products in what they believe to be perfect bottles,’ remarks Douglas Greig, chairman of SAPRO, who hosted the gala dinner and awards ceremony in Pretoria.
‘Brands such as Sunlight have a great heritage and are often seen to lead the way. If the major brands are proactive in adjusting their packaging to create a better environment, consumers often view this as a very positive step, because they have the market impact and volumes to make a difference,’ continues Douglas. ‘Additionally, major brands have the financial muscle to influence and educate suppliers, retailers and consumers alike and there’s a positive knock-on effect down the supply chain and into the home.’
Now in its fourth year, the annual Best Recycled Product competition forms one of the highlights of the local plastic industry’s Clean-up South Africa Week, an initiative that encourages South Africans to clean-up and recycle where they work, live or play.
Widely regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the local plastics industry, the competition acknowledges recycled plastics and encourages brand owners and industrial designers these as a material of choice.
‘Plastics recycling is an important part of end-of-life plastics products and South Africa is doing well with only mechanical recycling. This annual event is an important vehicle to educate the media, public and even the plastics industry about the magnitude of plastics recycling locally,’ adds Douglas.
Plastics recycling in South Africa
According to industry statistics, approximately 19% of all plastics products manufactured during 2012 were recycled in the same period.
‘The recycling rate is increasing slowly – too slowly unfortunately to make a huge impact on the plastics waste going to landfill every year. As a result of the increasing population, urbanisation and a growing middle-class society, the volume going to landfill is increasing faster than the volume recycled,’ states Douglas
He went on to stress that recycled plastics are in huge demand in South Africa. ‘Our recyclers cannot produce enough material to meet market demand and the price that plastics converters are willing to pay for recycled material doesn’t reflect that demand. Recycled material is often perceived as a poor-quality, inconsistent and non-reliable raw material source. However, this competition has again proved that recycled plastics are versatile, strong and extremely reliable. And once again, it has been well supported by brand owners, retailers, converters and the media, who all encourage innovation and improved methods of plastics recovery and design,’ he concludes.