More important than ever for SA plastics industry to remain unwavering in commitment & vision
BECAUSE of various challenges and obstacles the past financial year was not an easy one for the local plastics industry, admitted Plastics SA Executive Director, Anton Hanekom, at the association’s AGM in November.
“Factors such as the ongoing loadshedding, water shortages, political unrest and impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic clearly demonstrated the vulnerability of our economy. Some operations were forced to scale down, others even had to close their doors permanently. Despite this, the plastics industry continued to show admirable resilience in the face of hardships. If anything, we were able to turn these challenges into opportunities and become even more involved in society by taking a leading role in the fight against plastic pollution and protecting the environment,” he said.
2021 was also a year that highlighted the development of the Section 18 Regulations to the National Environmental Management: Waste Act which came into effect on 5 November 2021. This new legislation refers to the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) aspect of the National Environmental Management Waste Act (NEMWA).
Countless hours were spent in consultation with Government and industry role-players to develop an industry-led plan that would effectively address the national concern around waste and its impact on society and the environment. In this regard, the industry once again reiterated its commitment to environmentally responsible production and consumption; design and technology innovation; infrastructure investment and supporting new recycling initiatives and improvements in order to boost the recycling of plastics and develop a true circular economy.
Jeremy Mackintosh, Chairman of the Plastics SA Board of Directors, echoed this sentiment in his Chairman’s message.
“Although plastics are a valuable resource, they attract a great deal of negative attention because they pollute the environment if not properly discarded. However, the failure by municipalities to collect much of South Africa’s domestic waste and the fact that our poorer communities are immersed in litter which then finds its way into the environment and waterways, should be seen as the true culprit.
“I am optimistic that the arrival of the new EPR legislation, together with citizens, retailers, brand owners, packaging manufacturers, government and the recycling industry collaborating with government and the recycling industry, will be an essential first step towards making the much-needed difference in terms of this negative perception,” he stated.
Highlights for Plastics SA during 2020/2021
- Training: Plastics SA’s Training Division managed to resume their Learnerships and Skills Programmes after many disruptions caused by Covid-19. In addition, two new learnerships were added to the bouquet of training offerings, namely Power and Telecommunication Cable Manufacturing and Production Technology (NQF 3). A total of 3 220 learners successfully qualified in 2021.
- Advocacy: The SA Initiative to end Plastic Waste was created in 2019 with the aim of finding scalable solutions in the South African context, to end plastic waste and facilitate a circular economy. Achieving the objective of “Zero Plastic Waste in the environment” continues to be the main objective of the Initiative, and to this end the most pressing focus areas for the coming year will be establishing the national plastic waste roadmap (action plan) and preparing for the next Plastics Colloquium which is expected to take place early in the New Year. The Plastics Industry Master Plan was also finalised this year and we are now awaiting the publication of the final by the Minister of Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.
- Sustainability: This past year, Plastics SA’s Sustainability Division once again partnered with many local and international stakeholders to ensure that we are part of the global movement addressing plastics pollution, whether on land, in rivers or in the oceans. Clean-Up & Recycle SA Week 2020 (14-19 September), culminated in National Recycling Day on 18 September and it was South Africa’s 24th year of participating in the annual International Coastal Clean-Up Day which took place on 19 September. During this week alone, 72 audited clean-ups covering a total area of 36km took place, with over 11 695 volunteers supporting land, beach and river clean-ups.
- Marketing & Communications: Plastics SA continued to “tell the plastics story” by focussing on the numerous benefits of plastics, why and how to recycle plastics correctly, materials made from recycled plastics, and reporting on the various industry initiatives. Thanks to these ongoing communication and education messages, audiences were reached far and wide with printed, digital and broadcast media. More than 7 million people were reached with these messages on social media platforms alone.
New Plastics SA Board of Directors
The following members were appointed to serve on the Plastics SA Board of Directors for the coming year:
Grant Herold (ARMSA), Mike Myers (EPSASA), Jeremy Mackintosh (PCA), David Rule (PISA), Gerome Marian (Sasol), Mark Berry (Safripol), Jan Venter (SAPPMA), Johann Conradie (SAPRO), Malan Mudaly and Gregory Schneider (importers), Thokozani Masilela (Government), Anton Hanekom (Executive Director).
In an environment where society’s expectations are increasing almost daily, it has become more important than ever for the South African plastics industry to remain unwavering in its commitments and to its vision. The need for evidence-based, up-to-date industry information and relevant trade data has become critical. For this reason Plastics SA will be expanding its technical skills and knowledge base during 2022 to offer ongoing technical support to its members and the industry at large.
“We encourage ongoing debates, discussions and partnerships to ensure a plastics sector that is dynamic, vibrant and growing in step with the needs of our country and international developments,” Anton concluded.