S Africa using recycled PP to compete against Asian imports

15 November 2011 18:42  [Source: ICIS news]

JOHANNESBURG (ICIS) -- Use of recycled polypropylene (PP) has enabled African plastic manufacturers to compete against lower-priced Asian imports, Annabe Pretorius from the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation said on the sidelines of a packaging conference on Tuesday.

PP produced in South Africa is more expensive than recycled PP, making it more lucrative as a raw material for converters in certain industries and enabling them to cut production costs, Pretorius said.

"In order to compete with imported product from India, Pakistan, China or Philippines, many local plastics converters in the domestic wares industry have been using recycled PP as raw material," Pretorius said during the Africa Plastics Packaging conference being held in Johannesburg.

Local PP is not over-priced compared with international markets, but a 2.5kg of PP from South Africa is more expensive than a 2.5kg of a finished good from Asia such as a plastic chair, she said.

This is cutting the margins for many plastics converters, according to Pretorius.

"Recycled PP costs 60% of the cost of virgin material," she said, making it lucrative as a raw material for finished goods.

However, Mark Liptrot, group sustainability manager of packaging manufacturer AfriPack said: "The problem is that there is a wide variety of packaging using PP. It makes recycling PP really difficult, compared with polyethylene [PE]."

"Contamination of PP products is the biggest problem in recycling it," Liptrot said. 

"If you look at a sweet wrap, in addition to PP, you have other things in there like a layer of metal and varnish. There you are looking at more than 10% contamination of PP, which makes recycling difficult."

Liptrot agreed, however, that recycled PP could be used in low-end goods that do not require high quality.

"We could use it to make plastic tools and coat hangers," he said, saying recycled PP is still not in high demand from the high-end applications plastic packaging industry in South Africa.

For more about PP visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Cuckoo James
+44 (0) 208 652 3214

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