RPC Astrapak actively tackling the circular economy with POLYCO

Photo credit:  polyco.co.za

Photo credit: polyco.co.za

As a founding member of POLYCO, RPC Astrapak is integrally involved in promoting and improving the waste management of consumer polyolefins and in doing so, is playing a massive part in supporting their own objective of zero waste to landfill and contributing to a circular economy.

Established in 2011, POLYCO is a not-for-profit industry body that focuses on reducing the amount of polyolefin waste going to landfill by increasing the sustainable collection, recycling, recovery and beneficiation of polyolefin plastics.

RPC Astrapak’s annual contribution to the organisation is R2.989 million, which is 25% of POLYCO’s total funding; and R130 per tonne of raw material purchased goes to POLYCO for recycling initiatives.

POLYCO’s mission is to support the creation of a society where litter is minimised and the value of waste is maximised, through facilitating the responsible management of used polyolefin plastic packaging material.

To achieve this, the organisation has identified these key Industry Waste Management Plan (IWMP) pillars:

  • To minimise polyolefin plastic packaging in the environment;

  • To minimise polyolefin plastic packaging going to landfill;

  • To maximise polyolefin plastic packaging material being recycled;

  • To support transformation of the recycling sector.

While being faced with a number of challenges – such as lack of new membership, limited available funding, lack of credible data, numerous waste management challenges, and lack of collaboration within the industry – POLYCO continues to drive their IWMP targets. The collection growth rate has increased from 44% to 54% with a current transformation spend of R475m. 2250 direct and 1500 indirect jobs have been created, while a total investment of R735m into projects has included infrastructure (R570m), Environment /awareness (R60m), Research and development quality (R70m), and Skills development (R35m). The waste management charge for rigid and flexible plastics is R250/te, ML and carrier bags is R420/te, and recyclate is R100/te, escalating at CPIX.

Education and awareness of these programmes is critical and can be split into consumer-focused awareness and industry focused awareness.

  • Consumer focused awareness: Ending plastic waste in the environment (anti-litter); offering value to recyclable plastic; choosing products with recycled content; offering educational programmes at schools.

  • Industry focused awareness: Design products with the intent for recycling post-use; on-pack labelling; why plastic is the better choice for the environment; success stories of PCR end-use development.

Mylene Paynter