Packaging and recycling specialist ALPLA is building a state-of-the-art recycling plant in the South African coastal town of Ballito, north of Durban. The plant, with an output of 35,000 tonnes of recycled PET material, marks the company’s entry into the African recycling market. Construction will start in summer 2023 and completion is planned for autumn 2024. In total, ALPLA is investing around 60 million euros in strengthening the regional circular economy.
The ALPLA Group is strengthening its commitment in southern Africa. After opening its new headquarters in Lanseria near Johannesburg in autumn 2022, the internationally active company is now announcing the construction of its first own recycling plant in South Africa. By autumn 2024, a modern plant for recycling used PET bottles will be built on a 90,000-square-metre site in Ballito near Durban in the province of KwaZulu Natal. It is the first investment in a food-grade PET recycling facility in South Africa’s second largest province by population and a key investment for the region. In future, almost 60,000 tonnes of PET bottles will be recycled per year and 35,000 tonnes of mechanically recycled rPET flakes and pellets will be produced from them, the majority of which ALPLA will process to produce its own bottles.
"Our goal is a bottle-to-bottle cycle at the location of our activities. In this way, as a recycler and producer, we can secure the supply of safe, affordable and sustainable packaging worldwide and at the same time promote awareness of the recyclable material," emphasizes ALPLA chief executive officer, Philipp Lehner. The company is investing around 60 million euros in the project in the industrial region around Ballito. The new plant will increase the annual production capacity of all ALPLA recycling companies and cooperations to around 238,000 tonnes for rPET (recycled PET) and 74,000 tonnes for rHDPE (recycled HDPE).
The market for high-quality products made from recycled materials is growing not only in Europe, Asia, and North and South America, but also in the south of the African continent. In South Africa, the increasing demand is accompanied by the gradual expansion of nationwide collection systems. "Together with the Producer Responsibility Organisation PETCO, who identified KwaZulu Natal as an opportunity for enterprise development, and other key stakeholders, ALPLA has been supporting the development of the collection value chain, the sensitisation of society and the avoidance of landfills for years," explains Mike Resnicek, ALPLA Finance and Commercial director Africa, Middle East and Turkey, and director and member of the board of PETCO.
In addition, for the realisation of the recycling plant, ALPLA has jointly decided to approach the investment with a local partner. ‘Local know-how combined with a sound understanding of the cultural and economic landscape is key for such a large-scale project,’ Resnicek adds.
PETCO chief executive officer, Cheri Scholtz says, "This investment in a further bottle-to-bottle plant in South Africa, and particularly with a local partner, is welcome news. We need additional offtake for the growing number of post-consumer bottles that we are unlocking nationally, and this also complements our transformation strategy."
"By setting up the first recycling resources of our own in Africa, we are equipping ourselves for the future, making a contribution to increasing the collection rate and reducing waste by recycling valuable raw materials. At the same time, we are creating many new jobs locally," believes Dietmar Marin, ALPLA managing director Recycling Division. The new plant in Ballito will employ around 100 people in the future. The development of the regional collection system will also have an impact on regional value creation and is expected to generate more than 10,000 indirect jobs in the coming years.
ALPLA is represented at a total of seven locations in South Africa, Mauritius and Angola in the sub-Saharan region on the continent, where it employs more than 1,000 people. In mid October 2022, the region’s new manufacturing headquarters was inaugurated in Lanseria near Johannesburg. Prior to this, a second production plant for PET preforms was opened in Angola’s capital Luanda. ALPLA is planning further investments in southern Africa in the coming years. "Regional anchoring and global know-how create the basis for strong partnerships and trust. With high-quality packaging solutions made from recycled materials, we can support our customers in meeting their sustainability goals and offer everything from a single source in the future," says Javier Delgado, ALPLA regional managing director Africa, Middle East and Turkey.