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Article by Nampak 6 November 2012

Sustainability makes good business sense

“A comprehensive sustainability strategy that includes packaging makes good business sense,” says Nampak, Africa’s largest packaging company. As more and more brand owners seek new ways of improving their competitive positioning in a tough economic climate, sustainability offers a number of benefits, such as reduced supply chain costs and improved brand image. This is why Nampak is leading the way by making sure that packaging and sustainability go hand-in-hand across all areas of the group.

The company’s individual businesses develop sustainability strategies that are appropriate to their customer base and substrate, while Nampak is actively involved in a wide range of recycling initiatives, including metals, glass, paper and plastics. At the same time, Nampak is constantly seeking new ways of improving lightweighting, increasing recyclable content and reducing the amount of packaging required. The company’s world-class Research and Development facility in Cape Town is a key driver in this regard.


Nampak is a founding member of Collect-A-Can. A joint venture between Arcelor Mittal and Nampak, Collect-A-Can collects and recycles used beverage cans. In 2011, 70% of beverage cans were recovered. This figure makes the beverage can the most successfully recycled primary packaging in South Africa. As a result, Southern Africa is a world leader in beverage can recovery.

Nampak Bevcan and Nampak DivFood are also sponsors of Trekking for Trash. Social change adventurers, Michael Baretta and Camilla Howard, will walk along the South African coastline (from Alexander Bay on the Namibian border to Kosi Bay on the Mozambican border, [Status]), during which they’ll collect and recycle litter, and educate communities along the way.

At Nampak DivFood, considerable progress has been made in terms of lightweighting cans. Testing is ongoing and is likely to result in significant resource conservation in the future.


Together with other industry players and government, Nampak participated in the restructuring of the glass recycling supply chain, and was a founding sponsor of The Glass Recycling Company, which aims to increase the recovery rate of glass. At present, approximately 37% of the glass produced in South Africa is recycled.

Nampak Glass uses 45% cullet (recycled waste glass, [Status]) in its manufacturing process. This reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Nampak Recycling collected 84 000 tons of cullet in 2011.


While Nampak Cartons & Labels Epping has Forestry Stewardship Council Chain of Custody certification, Nampak Corrugated has increased the amount of recycled paper in its board. Research continues to determine an optimal level of recycled content.

The recycling rate for the recovery of paper (as a percentage of recoverable paper, [Status]) is steadily increasing. According to the Paper Recycling Association of South Africa, it was 58% in 2010.

Nampak collected and recycled some 221 000 tons of waste paper and board in 2011.


Nampak’s plastics businesses continue to participate in the sustainability initiatives driven by the Multi-Layer Packaging Forum and Plastics South Africa. A number of executives are actively involved.

Nampak was one of the founding members of Petco, an industry-driven and financed solution for PET packaging. The main objective is consumer awareness of recycling initiatives. During 2010, 38% of beverage PET was recycled. There are many end-uses for recycled PET, such as staple fibres (e.g. carpeting, clothing, sleeping bags, pillows and duvets, [Status]), ceiling insulation, geotextiles (e.g. road stabilisation, [Status]) and new PET containers for food and non-food products. Every year, Nampak Polycyclers converts some 5 050 tons of recycled polyethylene into buckets, crates and refuse bins.

While Nampak Petpak is lightweighting PET bottles, Nampak Closures has introduced the “super shorty” for carbonated soft drink PET bottles. This closure weighs 2.4g versus 3.2g for the previous closure. As a result, most customers have managed to reduce the weight of their 500ml, one-litre and two-litre bottles.

Nampak knows that the benefits of packaging have to be balanced with the generation of waste, depletion of natural resources, the efficient use of energy and the company’s carbon footprint. By making sustainability an intrinsic part of the business, Nampak has managed to ensure an inclusive approach to the challenge, which is making a real difference.
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