Plastic bottle recycling plant operational in Okahandja

Rudolf Gaiseb

Namibia Polymer Recyclers (NPR), a subsidiary of Plastic Packaging and Coca-Cola Beverage Africa (CCBA) Namibia, launched a PET flake plant in Okahandja last week.

The polyethylene terephthalate (PET) flake manufacturing plant is a $24 million investment and recycles discarded beverage bottles.

The bottles are recycled by crushing them into PET flakes, which have a value in the international market.

Through this venture, CCBA aims to address the issue of plastic waste, as they have opted to be part of the solution to achieve a more sustainable future for the planet.

Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta said the completion of the state-of-the-art recycling facility will allow NPR to recycle up to 500 tonnes per month.

“The impact of inadequate waste management and the proliferation of plastic waste in our environment cannot be underestimated. From polluting our oceans and harming marine life to contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and land pollution, the consequences of our wasteful habits are harmful and far-reaching,” he said at last week’s inauguration.

Shifeta said that by doubling the mechanical recycling capacity of plastic waste, it addresses the pressing problem of plastic pollution and opens up economic opportunities for the nation.

At the plant opening last week, CCBA director of public affairs, communications and sustainability, Tshidi Ramogase, noted that Coca-Cola has embarked on a “World Without Waste” strategy in 2018 to drive a systematic shift to through a circular economy for packaging.

“Our goal is to make 100% of our packaging recyclable globally by 2025 and use at least 50% recycled material in our packaging by 2030,” Ramogase said.

Demand for recycled PET plastic for food applications currently exceeds supply, hence the need to help build a sustainable channel for high-quality materials.

“We work with communities to promote PET recycling and collection; Collaborate with recycling partners and secure recycled PET to help ensure our bottle material is used again and again. This is an example of how business, government and civil society partners can support or create closed-loop systems to ensure our packaging is collected, recycled or reused. “We are leveraging our scale and reach to achieve our sustainability goals and reduce packaging waste,” Ramogase added.

The recycling process involves different stages, including sorting PET bottles, crushing into PET flakes, as well as hot washing and drying of the flakes, which are then sent for further processing to recycle PET granules and other end uses.

Plastic packaging president Frank Fredericks said the environmental ramifications of PET waste are dire, and that overflowing landfills and ocean pollution are just the tip of the iceberg.

He highlighted that the effects are felt throughout the economy and environmental taxes are imposed to reduce tourism activities due to environmental degradation.

“However, in the face of this, we find hope and opportunity in recycling. Recycling PET bottles not only prevents waste from ending up in landfills, but also generates economic value. Not only are we reducing the negative effect of garbage on our environment, but the multiplier effect is achieved by creating jobs and earning foreign currency by exporting our products. By recycling PET bottles, we contribute to the growth of the recycling industry by stimulating innovation and investment in green technologies,” said Fredericks.

He continued: “Without an import permit from South Africa, it is impossible for Namibia to export packaged PET to South Africa, which automatically reduces the value of PET to zero dollars.”

“With this investment, no import permit will be required to export hot-washed flakes to any country in the world. Therefore, creating this infrastructure to offset baled PET in Namibia creates sustainable value for baled PET waste. Investing in recycling initiatives will not only safeguard our environment but will also strengthen our economy for future generations,” Fredericks added. [email protected]