|PET Growth in SA
The high environmental profile coupled with the high cost proportion of the two prime constituents, namely crude-oil based terephthalic acid and mono-ethylene glycol, has been the main driver in the establishment of a thriving PET recycling industry where demand for polyester fibre created an ideally placed consumer of recycled PET. The producer of bottle grade PET in South Africa is HOSAF with 120 000 tons per annum capacity of which 70% is used in the manufacture of beverage bottles. Growth of PET usage in South Africa is approximately 10% per annum.
In South Africa more than 85 – 90% of post consumer PET bottles are collected from landfill sites, although not ideal. This percentage is slightly lower than in previous years largely due to the Material Recovery Facilities (MRF’s) at Mariannhill in Durban, Athlone in Cape Town and London Road, Gauteng. Internationally, the scenario is very different, with kerbside collections accounting for 40-60% of recycled PET bottles, drop-off collections 10-15%, and return vending machines 15-20%. Buy Back Centres are not a good source of PET as they are better suited to paper, cans and glass because of the weight issue, but MRF’s are a good supplier of post consumer PET.
PETCO supports alternatives to dump-site collection as in Drop-Off Centres, Separation at Source / Material Recovery Facilities (MRF’s), and Buy Back Centres. The shift to these methods of collection is a challenge that PETCO shares with other waste streams, with national government, local municipalities and civil society throughout South Africa.
In 2008 PETCO broadened the collection of post-consumer PET (Extrupet set up a base in Cape Town) and assisted with a number of pilot kerbside collection projects and municipal garden collection points that enable small volumes of PET collection at source, as opposed to landfill. This provides a supply of cleaner, uncontaminated PET.
In 2008, growth of PET usuage slowed considerably due to CO2 and electricity problems. Add to this some strike action and the global economic collapse and the result is that since July 2008 the PET market has experienced considerable upheaval. The price of virgin raw materials softened considerably, the price of crude oil dropped and the cost of collecting, transporting and converting rPET (recycled PET) is rising. This has worsened further with end-use market demand for rPET (used for fibre) from China virtually disappearing overnight, leaving the global market for recyclables in tatters. Paper, plastic and cans are being stockpiled, the quality of recyclables collected is scrutinised and municipalities and taxpayers are confronted with the question “who will pay the price”?
Bottle-2-Bottle (B2B) recycling, where waste PET bottles are collected and reprocessed to enable them to be used again for PET bottles, and the development of other end-use markets are therefore becoming critically important.