The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, officially opened Unilever’s R670-million state-of-the-art savoury dry-food plant at Riverhorse Valley in Durban, and endorsed it as one of the largest private investments in South Africa since the 2010 World Cup.
The new plant is named Indonsa, meaning “morning star” in isiZulu, and produces brands such as Knorr, Robertson’s, Knorrox, Aromat and Rajah. It is in the start-up phase and will be in full production by the first quarter of 2012.
Minister Davies said the investment resonates well with the objectives and priorities of South Africa’s Industry Policy Action Plan (IPAP). “It is the first green manufacturing plant in South Africa that is designed to reduce its carbon footprint.”
He says it is also the first major greenfield investment since the World Cup, giving a boost to manufacturing investment, production and building local capacity for such products. “Such investments confirm that South Africa is indeed a preferred destination for investment.” Davies added that investments such as Indonsa clearly demonstrate the confidence in South Africa as an investment destination and our manufacturing capability.
Indonsa is a global first for the group in terms of advancing its focus on advanced sustainable green technology. It is Unilever’s second-largest plant in the world and its fifth plant in South Africa.
Davies added that South Africa’s National Industrial Policy Framework (NIPF) has confirmed that the government sees the manufacturing sector continuing to play a pivotal role in ensuring that the country achieves the higher rates of economic growth that is needed. “Unilever has been a critical part of the process and we look forward to them continuing to play a role in ensuring that South Africa becomes an even more globally competitive manufacturing location, especially through increased investment in modern plant- and energy-efficiency, as well as skills development,” he added.
Going the extra green mile
The global Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) and local chapter aim to reduce the environmental impact of its entire product range by 50%, source 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably, and assist a billion people to improve their well-being and general health. Indonsa is an example of the USLP delivered in practice.
“The advanced technology in operation at Indonsa sets new global standards in responsible and sustainable dry-food production,” said the chairman of Unilever South Africa, Marijn van Tiggelen. “For us sustainability now implies responsibility, integrity and moral obligation,” he said.
According to Unilever’s chief supply-chain officer, Pier-Luigi Sigismondi, the group aims to globally reduce carbon emissions from manufacturing and logistics by over 40% by 2020 from its 1995 baseline, at a rate of almost 5% a year. “We will continuously reduce our impact across the entire life cycle of our products and intensify the advancement of new technologies such as these used here at Indonsa to achieve our global sustainability objectives,” Sigismondi said.
Carbon reduction is achieved by using energy-efficient controlled zoned lighting throughout the plant, while innovative insulation methods reduce heat loads from the sun to minimise air-conditioning requirements. Super-efficient motors drive mixers and air compressors, reducing energy requirement levels substantially.
Rain falling on the 22 000m² roof is channelled into a 1,5-million litre tank, treated and added to recycled water. The application of smart water efficiency technology virtually eliminates municipal supply, enabling the recovery of 70% of all water used in production phases. Other examples of water saving include capturing and treating condensate from air-conditioning, and using it to clean toilets. All process and shower water is recycled via biological and reverse-osmosis treatment.
Indonsa’s solid waste is recycled to levels where nothing goes to landfill. This is achieved by using recoverable packaging materials. Product waste will be designated for composting in local gardens that support poor communities, while excess is converted by a waste energy plant and the resultant energy is fed back into the national energy grid.
The plant has the ability to become the biggest savoury dry-food site at Unilever worldwide. It has been designed to produce 65 000 tonnes of products per year and has an expansion capability of up to 100 000 tonnes. The 22 000m² factory is equivalent to three soccer fields and is situated on 78 000m² of land.
Tel: 031 570 3000