A new recycled PET plant by Mpact is bringing South Africa a step closer to closing the loop in bottle-grade recycling.
Mpact Polymers was officially unveiled in Wadeville, Germiston this week. The new bottle-to-bottle facility will produce recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) which is a substitute for virgin PET, which is derived from crude oil. This recycled raw material will be produced from previously used PET bottles for the manufacturing of new PET bottles.
The R350-million state-of-the-art operation’s recycling process complies with European Union (EU) Food Safety Authority specifications and is the first in Africa to meet The Coca-Cola Company’s full certification for PET bottles to package the company’s soft drinks.
The operation enjoys the backing of the departments of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Trade and Industry (DTI) and Economic Development (EDD) in promoting job creation, reducing waste to landfill and improving rPET production that will ultimately help to reduce the carbon footprint of the food and beverage industry.
“This successful venture illustrates what is possible when industry and the public sector collaborate on initiatives with a positive societal impact, in this case, waste reduction,” Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said at the launch.
Diverting bottles from landfills
Mpact Polymers will process 29 000 tonnes of post-consumer PET bottles diverted from landfills each year, to produce 21 000 tonnes of rPET for food and beverage packaging. An estimated 186 000m³ of landfill space will be saved annually as a result, while CO2 emissions will be reduced by approximately 53 000 tonnes each year.
The opening of Mpact Polymers comes at a time when collection and recycling of plastic PET bottles is on the rise in South Africa. According to industry body PETCO, post-consumer PET collection and recycling grew from 16% in 2004 to 52% in 2015 (9 840 tonnes to 73 710 tonnes respectively). PETCO targets to collect and recycle a landmark 70% by 2022. Currently, 68% of all PET material (virgin and recycled) is processed into PET bottles and these are primarily used by the beverage industry.
Commenting on behalf of Mpact, Group CEO, Bruce Strong said, “Together with our industry partners, Coca-Cola South Africa, ABI and PETCO, we have spent a lot of time and effort researching the PET recycling industry and developing a PET recycling business that would be sustainable. Mpact Polymers is backed by the required skills, experience, and infrastructure, to take advantage of the prospects in the collection and recycling of PET bottles in South Africa.”
President of Coca-Cola South Africa, Therese Gearhart, applauds the facility as the first on the African continent to meet Coca-Cola’s full certification exacting standards thus achieving approval to use this rPET in their products.