27 May 2021

Vinylloop gets the go-ahead as new vinyls packaging pro

Submitted by Monique Holtzhausen
Vinylloop gets the go-ahead as new vinyls packaging pro

Members of the Southern African Vinyls Association (SAVA) voted unanimously in favour of forming a separate Producer Recovery Organisation (PRO) within the Association, whose specific focus will be to manage the collection and recycling of post-consumer and post-industrial vinyl packaging waste.

Why a separate PRO for vinyl packaging?

Explaining the rationale for forming a new PRO for the vinyls packaging industry, Monique Holtzhausen, CEO of SAVA, explains that 70 % of the local PVC market goes into non-packaging products that are used in long-term applications such as pipes, window frames and doors, flooring, cables, ceilings or in the healthcare industry."Some of these products last in excess of 150 years. It is therefore not the responsibility of these SAVA members to fund the collection and recycling activities for vinyl packaging that occupies less than 2 % of the overall market. The decision was therefore taken to form VinylLoop for packaging members, funded by packaging members and headed up by Adri Spangenberg.”

PVC (vinyl) as packaging material

For more than half a century PVC (or vinyl) has been used on a global basis to meet specific functional food and beverage packaging needs.  It suits many different food types, offering good clarity and physical properties, including heat tolerance, controllable gas and moisture vapour transmission capabilities and excellent sealing performance. It is a naturally clear resin that is resistant to oils and provides an excellent barrier to most gases. Because it is resistant to strong acids, bases and to many organic solvents, vinyl packaging is an excellent choice for salad dressings, mineral- and cooking oils, vinegars and honey, as well as for shampoos and cosmetic products.

Other rigid vinyl packaging applications include tamper-resistant packaging such as used for over-the-counter medications, blister packs or clamshells typically used for cell phone sim cards. Flexible vinyl is used as packaging around consumer products or food grade quality cling film owing to the fact that it has a very low permeability to water vapor and oxygen and therefore helps to preserve the freshness of food.

Size of the PVC packaging market in South Africa

South Africa manufactures roughly about 12 000  tons of vinyl packaging per month that goes into bottles, thermoformed punnets, pharmaceutical blister packs, cling film etc. This represents less than 2 % of the total  PVC market in the country.“Although vinyl products are readily recycled in South Africa, there has never been a  formal collection and recycling programme for post-consumer and post-industrial vinyl packaging waste due to the fact that the volumes in this market was considered to be too small to justify the costs of collection and transport. As part of our strategy for dealing with packaging waste submitted to Government’s Section 18 Industry Waste Management Plan, SAVA is currently developing a unique collection model for household packaging waste that bear the Number 3 polymer identification code. This plan includes working closely with municipalities and the entire value chain.

vinylloop two VinylLoop operations and responsibilities explained VinylLoop operates under the SAVA banner, but will be registered as a separate Non-Profit Company (NPC), with its own board, bank account, membership forms and invoicing system in order to facilitate the bi-annual audits by Government and avoid administrative confusion.“Companies who sign up to become members of VinylLoop will automatically also become members of SAVA and will therefore reap the benefits of belonging to both associations, e.g. the SAVA Product Stewardship Commitment, LCA studies, being awarded the Vinyl. Product Label, having access to the latest international studies and scientific information, networking with fellow industry members etc.,” Adri explains.

However, where normal SAVA members pay an annual membership fee, VinylLoop members will be required to pay a monthly levy based on the declared amount of vinyl packaging (in tonnages) they produce over the next six months. Initially this amount will be R100 per tonne until 5 November 2021, after which members will be informed of an adjusted membership levy. These funds will be used to set up the necessary infrastructure to ensure VinylLoop members reach the targets that have been set by the Government for the collection and recycling of all PVC (vinyl) packaging that is used in the market over the next 5 years.

As the PRO representing the vinyl packaging industry, it will be VinylLoop’s duty to: ensure the EPR scheme is audited by Government, collect and submit data to the SA Waste Information system (including how much PVC vinyl packaging is collected and how much is successfully recycled),put buyers and sellers of vinyl packaging waste in touch with each other, keep records of identified products;work with municipalities to develop the necessary collection and recycling infrastructure integrate informal waste collection;establish secondary markets for recycled vinyl packaging waste.The new EPR regulations came into effect on the 5th of May 2021 and all the packaging streams in South Africa now have 6 months to comply.

By 5 November 2021 it will be compulsory for all converter, manufacturers, importers, brand owners and retailers to either belong to a PRO or to have formed their own independent EPR scheme.“

The vinyls industry has been given the target of a 6 % recycling rate to be achieved between 5 November 2021 – 5 November 2022. It is therefore crucial to get as many role-players as possible involved in these early stages, as we are now in the process of developing an industry-led plan that will ultimately not only serve the interests of the individual members and our industry, but also those of our country and the environment for generations to come,” Adri concludes.