28 June 2024


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Article by Nampak 30 November 2012

Chips to Chairs

Nampak Flexible, Africa’s leading flexible packaging company, has taken the next step towards its goal of sending zero waste to landfill by manufacturing pre-primary school desks and chairs from post-industrial waste.

The first project of its kind involved recycling printed poly prop laminate from reel stock that was manufactured for Simba chip packets.

The technology recycles the adhesives and inks that are used in the construction and design of the laminate. It’s supplied in pellet form, before being injection moulded into desks and chairs for pre-primary school classrooms. While a partnership with Green Office provides a much-needed distribution platform, the packaging company manages the process from beginning to end.

Nampak Flexible’s Technical Director, Gerald Chotu, says that it takes 615 large empty bags or 1 179 small empty bags of Simba chips to make a set of one desk and two chairs.

Over a five-day period in November, the packaging company and Simba helped Green Office deliver some of the 700 desks and 1 400 chairs to disadvantaged schools in KwaZulu-Natal, namely the Birches Pre-Primary in Sarnia, Ngilosi Primary in Umlazi, Gitanjali Primary in Chatsworth, Ukukhanya Kokusa in KwaMashu and the Valley of 1 000 Hills Creche in the Valley of 1 000 Hills. The balance of the furniture will be distributed to needy schools elsewhere around the country.

The initiative, dubbed Chips2Chairs, builds on Nampak Flexible’s success in the recycling space. The packaging company has already partnered with Unilever to manufacture gift bags and novelty bags from post-industrial waste. This is being done via the Hillcrest AIDS Centre, which is a local charity helping unemployed people affected by HIV/AIDS. Nampak Flexible and Unilever make use of the bags for the purposes of corporate gifting and the like. The Bags4Life initiative is ongoing.

According to Chotu, Nampak Flexible’s environmental strategy requires innovative solutions and thinking. While various recycling opportunities were considered, the packaging company felt that there is a pressing need for infrastructure resources in schools. “We wanted to play a role in tackling the education crisis, particularly as we’re rapidly approaching the start of a new school year. By developing the technology to make school furniture from waste, we have a win-win for everyone concerned: we’re giving back to the community, and doing good for the environment.”

Moving forward, the technology is available to Nampak Flexible’s customers, and Simba is exploring the possibility of incorporating Chips2Chairs in its brand-building and community outreach programmes in the future.

“Very simply, Chips2Chairs is a test case; it’s a sustainable model that has the capacity to uplift and empower schools around the country. How it’s going to be leveraged down the road remains to be seen,” adds Chotu. Back to top ^