Paper and packaging company Mpact is running manufacturing trials at its plant, in Benoni, Gauteng, to manufacture construction boards and pallets made from recycled aluminium and plastic.
The aluminium and plastic are offcuts from liquid packaging that is recycled at the company’s paper mill in Springs, Gauteng.
Liquid packaging, such as a milk or juice cartons, comprise 25% aluminium and plastic, and 75% fibre (paper).
The boards are lightweight and durable. Mpact MD John Hunt says Mpact will explore this market and the possibility of upscaling the manufacturing of aluminium and plastic construction boards and pallets in the next few months.
Engineering News in November reported that Mpact started recycling liquid packaging after major investment of around R46-million went into the Springs paper mill.
Liquid packaging could previously not be recycled owing to the significant amount of contamination.
Hunt notes, however, that consumers separating waste at source could rinse out containers after use and discard it separately from other recyclables.
“Putting paper in the recycling bin is just the start of a complex process,” he explains. Once waste is collected from households, reclaimers or private companies will separate paper, plastic and other recyclables from waste that ends up in landfill.
The waste is then transported to depots, such as the Springs paper mill, where paper and plastic is baled according to their grade.
These grading categories include liquid packaging; paper cups, which are most prominently used by take away establishments; heavy letter paper, such as birthday cards; white paper and magazines; flat news, such as newspapers and supermarket brochures; sacks and bags, such as potato bags; and carton, such as cereal boxes.
The paper mill in Springs has a baled storage capacity of 30 000 t, and manufactures about 350 000 t/y of recycled material.
Hunt says the industry has already surpassed its target of achieving a 70% recycling rate by 2020.
In 2017, 1.3-million tonnes out of a possible 1.8-million tonnes of paper and plastic manufactured was recycled; however, more still needs to be invested to create a proper circular recycling economy in South Africa.