Sean Kirkham, sales and marketing director at Teqal, with one of the moulds used for the new containers produced with biodegradable polymers in the Teqal manufacturing plant located at Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone

Africa’s first fully biodegradable rigid plastic jar from Teqal

TEQAL, the specialist producer of injection moulded rigid plastic containers for the cosmetics and industrial sectors, has been awarded a R50-million financing facility by the IDC to expand its factory at the Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone.

Started as a greenfields venture in 2016 in a mini-factory at Dube Trade House in KZN, Teqal ‘cherry picked’ a highly skilled team and, with a R39-million investment in high-tech production and automation equipment, commenced output of a range of specialised thinwall containers. Now it is taking the process a step further with its development of Africa’s first biodegradable cosmetics jar – along with a full wraparound in-mould labelled jar.

“The only way to change the impact of plastic on the environment is at product level, and a biodegradable solution will have a major impact on the environment,” says Teqal sales & marketing director Sean Kirkham, who has been involved in the industry for over 20 years, originally at Consupaq, a manufacturer of packaging tubes and caps that is now part of the Berry Astrapak group.

Not only is its product completely biodegradable, it is 30% lighter than its closest competitor and uses 60% less energy to manufacture. All of which adds to reducing the container’s carbon footprint.

There are a lot of challenges in recycling, including the fact that some plastic products recycled once or twice cannot be recycled any further.


Not ‘green washing’
“Our cosmetics packaging is not ‘green washing’. This is not about making people feel good. It is 100% decomposable and has no micro-plastics,” says Kirkham.

The bio-based material used to produce the external components is ‘Seedling-certified’. This is a Swiss certification that verifies the compostability of a product, according to the European standard EN 13432. If the components end up in the ocean, landfill, or are placed in soil, they will fully biodegrade and will not leave any microplastics behind.

Teqal’s strengths include the strategic registration of functional and technical designs and patents, along with in-house high-end packaging, tool-making and design experience – all of which are vital in generating value in the personal care and cosmetics industry.

Last year Teqal entered the Institute of Packaging’s Gold Pack Awards with its Reflections jar in the Health, Beauty, Medical & Pharmaceutical Packaging category and received its first award for innovation.


New 2 500m² factory planned
Since its start-up, Teqal company has expanded three times and currently takes up 750m² of space. Now with a major five-year contract in hand and financing to build its own factory, Teqal is looking to move to TradeZone 1 within the Dube TradePort. A new 2500m² factory with capacity to double in size is in the planning.

The benefits provided by being housed at the Dube TradePort SEZ made it an obvious choice for Teqal. Topping the list of benefits was security. The proximity to the King Shaka International Airport also rates highly. Kirkham says he has had more customers visit the factory in four years than in the entire 20 years at his previous factory elsewhere in Durban.

“It’s easy for people en-route to another appointment to pop in for coffee and see what we are doing. There’s no better marketing than showing customers our factory and explaining our product. It’s invaluable.”

Dube Trade Port is an environmentally arduous place for businesses to operate in, with strict requirements and regular audits. But for a company that uses solar power and energy-efficient servo-driven equipment and solvent-free ink, it is easy to comply. Says Kirkham: “This is what we are about. The audits provide us with a benchmark against which we can judge, and it gives us a helping hand in the right direction.”