The waste separation and recycling management facility in Skukuza, in the southern region of the Kruger National Park, in Mpumalanga, is ramping up production, packaging group Nampak group investor relations manager Zanele Salman tells Engineering News.
The facility was established to make the park more environment friendly and provide a source of recyclable material for Nampak and the South African recycling industry.
The facility, valued at about R7-million (of which Nampak’s contribution is R4-million), was launched in April by the Kruger National Park in partnership with Nampak. Some of the separated waste material collected at the facility, such as paper, glass and plastic, is separated and sold to Nampak’s factories and the majority is sold to recyclers in close proximity to the facility.
“While the number of waste bins in the park currently remains the same, with a consistent volume of waste, Nampak anticipates the volumes to increase with the change in seasons and influx of visitors,” Salman says.
Nampak Recycling, Nampak’s recycling division, whose primary function is to source recovered fibre for the group’s paper mills and cullet for the glass division, currently oversees the operation of the facility. Once the operation is running, Nampak intends transferring management and operation of the facility to an entrepreneur as part of its enterprise development strategy, Salman says.
“Nampak understands the importance of protecting the environment, which is evident from the projects in which Nampak participates and drives,” she says, highlighting that at Nampak, a groupwide environmental policy commits businesses to operate according to the highest standards, ensuring that any potential harmful impacts of its processes and products on the environment are reduced.
“We comply with all laws and subscribe to the provisions of ISO 14001: 2004, which is the internationally recognised standard for sustainable practices. Energy, waste and water are among the focus areas,” she adds.
Nampak notes that the total waste sent to landfill sites amounts to 107-million tons a year. According to the Packaging Council of South Africa (PACSA), packaging accounts for only 1.82-million tons, or 2%, a year of this waste, as several South African packaging companies also focus on the collection and recycling of material, particularly for paper, glass and beverage cans, Salman says.
The PACSA has highlighted industry initiatives, such as Collect-a-Can, Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic Recycling South Africa and The Glass Recycling Company, as significant contributors to the recycling industry.
“If initiatives like these were not in place, PACSA estimates that packaging waste to landfill would be 6.08-million tons, or more than 6%, a year,” Nampak’s website notes.
Moreover, as limits exist in terms of the volumes and types of recycled material packaging companies can use in their processes, Salman stresses that support for a vibrant and growing recycling industry that unlocks the value of recyclables, while developing businesses, is key.
However, one of the most pressing issues in South Africa remains the absence of a recycling culture.
“It is crucial that we start ensuring that recyclable packaging materials do not end up at landfill,” she says, noting that according to a Council for Scientific and Industrial Research study that was done in 2010, only 3.3% of South Africans living in urban areas recycle with any degree of regularity.
“This is less than one-million out of a possible 32-million. This perhaps is the greatest challenge in the future. We need to start here to really unlock the opportunities,” Salman concludes.