PETCO and partners relieve pressure on Western Cape recycling capacity

  • Above (left to right): Shahid Kazmi (Extrupet), Caspar Elbers (Propet), Peter White (Propet), Alison Davison (City of Cape Town), Gregg Adams (Department of Environmental Affairs), Naas du Preez (Oasis Water), Alicia le Roux (Department of Environmental Affairs), Cheri Scholtz (CEO, PETCO).

The PET recycling company (PETCO) has made massive strides in increasing SA recycling rates in recent years, resulting in a Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottle recycling rate of 55% in 2016- that means more than 90 000 tonnes of PET or two billion bottles being recycled each year.

PETCO CEO Cheri Scholtz says this effectively means that we are currently recycling more than half of all post-consumer PET bottles in the market and more bottles are being recycled than those going into landfill: “Through the remarkable network of people, companies and organisations we work with, we created more than 60 000 income opportunities for small and micro-collectors, changing their lives and those of their families in immeasurable ways and injected almost R900 million into the economy to date.”

PETCO’s contracted recycling partner Extrupet, has a fibre producing plant in Milnerton in Cape Town and a Bottle-2-Bottle plant in Wadeville, Johannesburg, where recycled PET plastic bottles are used to manufacture new bottles for many foodgrade applications or recycled into a myriad new and useful products such as polyester fibre for duvets and pillows, jeans and t-shirts, and reusable shopping bags. This process has made SA a self-sufficient manufacturer of polyester fibre, no longer reliant on imports.

“Just by way of scale, when we load 15MT on the truck being sponsored by Oasis Water, half a million bottles will now be recycled that otherwise wouldn’t have been.” – Chandru Wadhwani, Extrupet and PETCO

Just when demand for plastic bottles is at an all-time high in the Western Cape region because of the convenience of PET bottles to collect, save and consume bottled water, the local recycling capacity in the Western Cape is at maximum production and is unable to process the additional influx of bottles

To overcome this challenge and prevent these additional bottles having to be sent to landfill, PETCO Associate Member Oasis Water, recycling experts Extrupet, and PETCO are transporting 15MT of baled bottles to the Extrupet facility in Gauteng for processing.Chandru Wadhwani, Joint Managing Director of Extrupet (Pty) Ltd. and PETCO board member, says: “For me the pressing driver here is to ensure that the extra volume of PET bottles that have found their way to the Western Cape on the back of the water crisis find a home in a recycled product.“Just by way of scale, when we load 15MT on the truck being sponsored by Oasis Water, half a million bottles will now be recycled that otherwise wouldn’t have been. This for me is the ultimate value of this initiative and companies like Oasis Water need to be commended – they set the perfect example of what extended producer responsibility entails.“But for the support of company’s like Oasis Water, these bottles would ultimately be landfilled or worse, end up in the oceans.”Group Director of Oasis Water, Naas du Preez, says: “With the influx of bottled water into Cape Town, we believe as a responsible brand, we must also assist and be depended upon to take care of the environment and have sponsored the transport as a sign of goodwill.

“We are also challenging fellow bottlers and players in the industry to do the same and assist with keeping recycling responsible.”

For the time being, PETCO is monitoring the situation closely to determine whether additional transportation will be needed to ease the burden on the Western Cape recycling capacity, and encourages other companies to offer financial support should additional transport become necessary.