The competition was one of the highlights of the local plastic industry’s Clean Up South Africa Week (10-16 September), and encouraged brand owners and industrial designers to consider recycled plastics as a material of choice.
Brand owners from around the country, retailers and association leaders attended the “Oscar awards of the plastics industry” which celebrated innovation, sustainability and technical developments in the recycling industry.
“We were thrilled with both the quality and quantity of the entries we received this year, proving that the plastics recycling industry is growing in size, sophistication and value,” said Douglas Greig, Chairman of SAPRO.
A panel of plastics experts was asked to judge products based on various criteria, which included:
• Life expectancy of product
• Sustainability and long-term demand and market acceptance for product
• Tonnage (potential tonnages) diverted from landfills and converted into a product
• Potential to create consumer awareness of plastics recycling, etc.
The following winners were announced in each of the four categories:
Judges Special Mention (Merit Award):
The Bottleworx Building System particularly impressed the judges with its unique building system that is based on re-using specially designed PET bottles of 500 ml, 1 litre and 2 litre volumes to fill and insulate walls. Using an interlocking cubic design, Bottleworx transforms ordinary packaging into a multi-functional material that permanently removes plastic and other waste from the environment. Empty containers are up-cycled to be used as building blocks for almost anything and can be used to build houses, schools, clinics as well as bed bases, couches and even educational toys.
Novel and artistic products (articles made from used and discarded plastics products):
The Gold Award went to the Eco Smart Group for their Geyser Blanket. This entry impressed the judges with its relevance in saving energy as well as utilising waste materials. The fact that it sells for less than the official geyser blankets in the market is excellent despite the labour intensive nature of the manufacturing process. “The product has enormous potential to create awareness”, Greig explained.
Mixed Recycled Materials:
The Gold Award was awarded to the Cyclo Roof Tiles entered by Cyclocor KZN. This company only started in May 2012 with the manufacturing of roof tiles, but already boast a couple of designs in various colours. They managed to secure off-take agreements for 100 % of their current production capacity of 100 000 tiles per month. The waste plastics are sourced from community based waste management companies and collectors. The tiles will reduce the building cost of houses as the reduced weight necessitates fewer trusses and roof support beams. Cyclocor will expand their manufacturing facilities in the next year with a new factory in Gauteng as well as in the Western Cape.
Product made from 100 % recyclate:
SAPRO received 11 entries in the 100 % recycled material category. Recycled material from industrial and post consumer sources qualified. The judges evaluated the products for their fit-for- purpose and consumer acceptance. Due to the inconsistency of raw material of this nature, attention was also given to the technical achievements of the manufacturer to ensure process stability and product consistency. This is also the category that utilised the highest tonnage of post-consumer waste.
The Gold Award in the category 100 % recycled content went to the rPET Lomold pallet by Lomold. The biggest challenge with plastic pallets today is the ability to match wood pallets both in cost and load carrying capacity. In order to match the desired cost profile, the weight of the LOMOLD Pallet needed to be approximately half that of equivalent plastic pallets, while still delivering high performance.
The evening, however, clearly belonged to the Ecobarrow, manufactured and distributed by Lasher Tools and the recipients of the PACSA Trophy for Best Recycled Products. Lasher Tools were also finalists in the category for products containing a certain percentage post-consumer recycled content with their poly hoe and poly pick handles.
Due to increasing steel prices and market demand for better quality tools, Lasher started to explore the possibilities of making better quality traditional products using different materials. With the world focussing on environmental issues, Lasher embarked on a mission to use recycled plastic as one of its main components in manufacturing.
“This year’s awards have once again proven that South Africa is amongst the world’s leaders in mechanical recycling of its plastics products. Each of the entries we received was a winner in its own right. The quality of the products are improving each year as brand owners become ever mindful of consumer acceptance and the aesthetic appeal of their products. At the end, the entries that showed long-term environmental commitment without superfluous green washing and proved that recycled plastic can be both beautiful as it is strong, durable and environmentally responsible as it ensures that the material and the energy is not lost,” Greig concluded.