ACCORDING to the PET Recycling Company (PETCO), South Africa’s PET market grew by 10% last year, with bottles representing 68% of the total market share.
At the organisation’s recent AGM, CEO, Cheri Scholtz, reported a 6% year-on-year recycling tonnage growth to 98 649 tons of post-consumer PET bottles in 2018, saving 612 000m3 of landfill space and lessening the country’s carbon emissions by 148 000 tons.
These figures equate to more than 2.3-billion bottles in total, with an average of 6.2-million bottles collected for recycling every day, resulting in an overall recycling rate of 63%.
In addition, an estimated R1.2-billion was injected into the downstream economy, through the manufacturing, distribution and sale of products made from recycled PET (rPET).
Cheri listed 2018’s highlights as the massive collaborative effort by all PET value chain stakeholders to submit an Industry Waste Management Plan (IWMP) to the Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries, helping establish PETCO Kenya, welcoming RPC Astrapak Thermopac as the first thermoform converter member, and the successful completion of a feasibility pilot project for recycling clear PET thermoform into polyester fibre.
Chairman, Casper Durandt, emphasised that high collection and recycling numbers can only be achieved by industry players working together. ‘Brand owners must design packaging to be 100% recyclable – for example, by removing colour, PVC and multi-layered packaging,’ he remarked.
The task ahead for PETCO and its stakeholders is framed by meeting the requirements of Section 28 Extended Producer Responsibility legislation, as well as the targets and programmes outlined in the IWMP. Collectively, Casper noted, they create a pressing need for PETCO to represent the entire PET sector, including thermoform converters and the edible oil packaging sector.
Looking ahead to opportunities in the 2019 financial year, PETCO, in partnership with the SA National Bottled Water Association, is piloting a Bottle Grading System, in which PET bottles are ranked according to their recyclability and overall environmental impact. This is expected to positively influence the collection rate for 2019.
In terms of challenges, Casper expects recyclers to be most affected by the price dynamics of rPET, with lower returns projected than in 2018. In addition, he warned, the considerable over-supply of bottles in the market could have serious negative long-term implications if not handled properly.
PETCO’s Awards ceremony rounded off the AGM, shining the spotlight on extraordinary contributions to the recycling of post-consumer PET by people, companies and organisations.