The Southern African Vinyls Association (SAVA) has registered as a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) in order to represent the interests of the PVC packaging producers operating in South Africa.
According to SAVA Chief Executive Officer Monique Holtzhausen, it is SAVA’s mandate is to protect key markets and the stature of the industry, while at the same time ensuring it provides the industry with leadership and strategic direction to ensure excellence in relation to health and environmental issues and product stewardship.
“Only about 12 000 tonnes of vinyl packaging is produced in South Africa each year, going into bottles, thermoformed punnets, blister packs, clingfilm and other flexible packaging. Although packaging only makes up about 9 % of the local PVC market, it is used on a global basis to meet specific functional food and beverage packaging needs. It is suitable for many different food types and offers good clarity and physical properties, such as heat tolerance, freeze-thaw, controllable gas and moisture vapour transmission capabilities and sealing performance for ultimate freshness,” Monique explains.
Unique challenges of PVC packaging
Bottles, films, sheeting and other packaging made from PVC have a unique chemical composition and melting temperature. Although they might look similar, they cannot be recycled with other plastics such as PET or polypropylene.
“Most waste management companies and material recovery facilities (MRFs) also do not have the manpower or capabilities to remove this potentially valuable material from the waste stream. Demand is growing from both manufacturers and Government to increase the collection and recycling of plastic waste, and promote the use of recyclate in new products where standards permit. PVC packaging waste requires a unique and tailormade solution to solve its collection challenges,” Monique says.
Large volumes of vinyl packaging also enter the country each year in the form of imports. In order to develop a clear picture of the size of these volumes, SAVA is reaching out to brand owners and retailers for information so that it can implement a practical and sustainable collection and recycling mechanism.
“The Government has set high recycling and collection targets that the different packaging streams are required to meet over the next 5 years as part of the Section 18 EPR legislation. During 2020, PVC was the only plastic polymer that recorded an increase in its annual recycling rate, growing by 9.5 % from the previous year. We want to build on this success by encouraging PVC packaging producers, brand owners and importers to join SAVA so that we can protect their markets and ensure success in a very complex and competitive environment,” she encouraged.
As with most plastic applications, PVC markets are continuously under threat from other materials. “Competitors don’t hesitate to spread false information or half-truths in an effort to steal promote their own products. SAVA is committed to helping our members not only protect their markets, but expand their customer base by communicating scientifically-proven information about the benefits, versatility and excellent performance of vinyls,” Monique says. She adds that, as the industry association representing the entire PVC market and value chain in South Africa, SAVA has been working since 2011 to improve the public image of vinyls and address any misconceptions that might still exist around the use of vinyl products.
“Our Product Stewardship Commitment (PSC) is one of the key cornerstones of SAVA’s success in cleaning up the industry and changing market perceptions about this incredibly versatile material. The PSC is based on international health and safety standards and best practice models that specifies safe, responsible use of additives, sustainable manufacturing processes, closed loop management and a sustainability awareness. SAVA members are required to complete a PSC survey each year and voluntarily commit to these standards. All of these factors are crucial in packaging where public health and safety are important considerations”.
Level playing field for all PRO’s
“The EPR landscape is incredibly fluid, and many changes are still taking place. The further we walk down the path and engage with role-players involved in implementing our collection and recycling plans, the clearer our understanding becomes of what is workable, practical and sustainable.
Although we acknowledge that the focus must fall on meeting the targets that have been set by Government, SAVA firmly believes that this should be done while also protecting the markets and interests of our packaging producers and of ensuring funds raised are invested into the correct avenues. Packaging producers who sign up with SAVA will not only have a dedicated and tailor-made EPR system that has been created with the unique challenges of the industry in mind, but will also enjoy the many other benefits afforded to them by belonging to a bigger industry association, i.e. SAVA’s Product Stewardship Commitment, Life Cycle Analyses (LCA’s), being allowed to use SAVA’s product label, networking with fellow industry members, regular industry workshops and webinars, exposure on SAVA marketing platforms and access to the latest international studies and scientific information.
We are grateful for the development of the EPR Online technology that allows all PRO’s and their members access to the same platform for registering and reporting back to Government. The playing field has now been levelled and individual members are fee to join the PRO that will best serve their interests and those of the greater industry,” Monique concludes.
For more information about SAVA visit www.savinyls.co.za or email Monique@savinyls.co.za.
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