Polyco plans to invest R9 million in recycling projects

One of the most common types of plastic you’ll find in your home, are polyolefins. Making up approximately 70 percent of plastics packaging in South Africa, these plastics bear the polymer identification codes 2, 4 or 5, and are tough, resilient and in high demand due to the fact that they are 100 percent recyclable. POLYCO, the non-profit Polyolefin Recycling Company, is the material responsibility organisation tasked with driving the growth in the recycling of these polyolefin packaging products. ‘We have set ourselves the goal of growing polyolefin recycling in South Africa by a further 300 000 tonnes over the next five years. We believe it is achievable and in line with the IWMP recycling rate target of 35 percent or 238 000 recycled polyolefin tonnes in the year 2020. This is an ambitious target when considering that the 2014 recycling rate achieved was 31,8 percent or 171 000 tonnes,’ said POLYCO CEO, Mandy Naudé. Since POLYCO started its operations a little over two years ago, it has already invested R17 million into various separation, collection, sorting and recycling projects around South Africa, in order to increase the recycling rate. The second round of projects this year, aimed at collectors, is in the final stages of evaluation and will be announced in the first week of August. This will see an estimated R5million being invested in the recycling industry. Explained Mandy,‘Three times per year, POLYCO issues a call for proposals from either collectors or recyclers who need funding support to take their businesses to the next level. To enable this process, POLYCO has developed a self-sustaining funding model. We believe in giving the successful candidates a “hand-up” not a “hand-out”.’ Approximately 80 percent of the funding support POLYCO provides takes the form of the interest free loans repayable over three years. The loan repayment funds are then re-loaned to other successful applicants. The remaining 20 percent of funding support is in the form of grants, redeemed against growth volumes. ‘The more funding POLYCO loans to the recycling industry, the more funding income we are able to generate for further project support, without having to increase the recycling levy from converters,’ Mandy explained. The company’s third call for proposals in 2015 will commence on Monday, the 17 August and is focused specifically on supply chain efficiency projects for mechanical recyclers. The final submission date for these proposals is 25 September 2015. ‘We have budgeted approximately R9 million to invest in projects that would grow recycling production volumes, resulting in the long term sustainable growth of the polyolefin plastics recycling industry,’ Mandy said. Common problems experienced by recyclers include supply chain bottle-necks due to material availability or logistic issues, and production constraints due to insufficient capacity or unreliable ageing equipment at their plants. “In order to improve the output and quality of their products, recyclers need to upgrade their wash plant facilities or invest in new shredding, granulation, extrusion and testing equipment. These are often very expensive investments to make in an industry that is known for its small margins and high operating costs. By partnering with POLYCO, however, these and many other improvements can be implemented cost-effectively. ‘Successful applicants also enjoy the benefit of becoming part of the POLYCO network whereby they are referred business opportunities, connected to valuable networks, provided with media exposure and offered general business support and advice if required,’ Mandy said. She warned, however, that applicants must prepare themselves for a rigorous selection process. ‘We do a thorough due diligence of each company we invest in, and require them to submit their business plan detailing the support required to be able to divert more polyolefin packaging materials from landfill. The rand/tonne cost-effectiveness of the potential investment by POLYCO is an important consideration,’ she explained. ‘And all funding contracts are linked to projected volume growth, which is the key objective. Mandy concluded, ‘We look forward to receiving many applications from mechanical recyclers who would like to grow their existing business operations. Application guidelines can be downloaded from the POLYCO website at www.polyco.co.za or call Business Support