HISTORY – A BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF THE PAST 5 YEARS

2011

At the inception of SAVA, two specific technical steering groups (TSGs) were created, one focusing on the responsible and sustainable use of additives and the other on the recycling of PVC.  The members of these TSGs worked very hard to create a list of realistic, achievable and sustainable commitments that ultimately became the SAVA Product Stewardship Programme (PSP).

During the latter half of 2011, industry stakeholders met to take responsibility and debate the draft PSP which used European best practices as a barometer for local industry. Tough debate and constructive critique was the order of the day, particularly in Durban. The workshops demonstrated that SAVA was on track and that the local vinyl industry was ready to assume responsibility for their future by addressing core issues that has marginalised the vinyl image for twenty years.  The draft PSP was presented to industry at the SAVA AGM on 24 January 2012.

SAVA also contributed to the Packaging and Paper Industry Waste Plan (IWMP) submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2011.    SAVA also introduced a banner recycling initiative that allows companies to recycle their old, out of use PVC banners.  

In 2011, SAVA also engaged with the Green Buildings Council of South Africa (GBCSA) on the MAT-7 PVC Minimisation Clause in their Green Star Rating Tool.  SAVA coordinated an industry questionnaire on behalf of the GBCSA which resulted in a platform for the GBCSA Technical Steering Committee (TSC) to have a constructive debate and recognise the voluntary progress made in the Southern African context in terms of long standing vinyl issues.  In October 2011 the GBCSA TSC have adopted recommendations to remove the MAT-7 PVC minimisation credit in their Green Star Rating Tool!  SAVA also engaged with representatives from the construction industry at the GBCSA Exhibition and Conference in October 2011.

SAVA joined its international partners on the Global Vinyls Council in 2011 which allowed us to learn from similar programmes world-wide thereby rapidly raising the standards of local PVC manufacturing and recycling to international levels and passing these benefits on to our members and our entire industry.

In 2011 we had a part-time CEO, 23 paid-up members and raised over R600 000 in year one, not a small feat!

2012

In 2012, SAVA members voluntarily committed to the SAVA Product Stewardship Programme, and participated in the first SAVA Survey towards the end of 2012.

As a very young organisation we were split between reacting to challenges and pressures, while trying to balance this with a pro-active approach to once again make PVC the material of choice in the various sectors within our economy.  Within the limits of a very tight marketing and communication budget, we were able to embark on the road to developing the SAVA brands as synonymous with transformation, sustainability and product stewardship.

The year 2012 also saw us taking legal action against packaging manufacturers outside of the PVC value chain.  These manufacturers were in breach of the Advertising Code.  SAVA, together with a legal team from Adams & Adams, successfully ensured that they retracted their unethical advertising campaigns.

Our relationship with Plastics|SA and our contribution to the Plastics|SA Sustainability Council remained an important platform for us where we ensure that our members have a voice within the greater South African polymers industry.  Similarly our position on the Global Vinyls Council affords us the opportunity to benchmark with and learn from the global PVC industry.

In 2012 we also invited international PVC expert, Dr Jason Leadbitter from Ineos ChlorVinyls, to address our members at our AGM.  

2013

Through our voluntary Product Stewardship Programme implemented in 2012, we continued on a journey to tackle the sustainability challenges of PVC in a proactive way.  We realised that no one will secure a place for PVC in the future other than the industry itself.  We also had to accept that this journey requires constant evaluation and learning along the way.  Through our PSP and other activities, SAVA created a platform for our local industry to collaborate and find solutions to issues that no single player can implement alone.  We also continued our advocacy work with CANSA and the GBCSA.

This year also saw the start of a growing relationship with DTI and DEA, which would ultimately benefit the industry as a whole in the years to come.  SAVA also embarked on a consumer awareness campaign and increased its communication with retailers.  With the appointment of AIM Marketing, this year also saw regular press releases being sent out to SAVA members and the PVC industry as a whole.

2014

In 2014, SAVA exhibited at the 7th Annual Green Building Convention hosted by The Green Building Council South Africa at the Cape Town International Convention Center The theme was “it’s time for Africa -bringing it home”.  SAVA used this expo to educate architects, builders, designers and decision makers about the removal of the MAT-7 PVC minimisation clause from all Green Star Rating Tools, the versatility of vinyl used in building and construction and aimed to correct misconceptions.  

SAVA also presented a paper entitled, “Healthcare without harm – a case for the recovery and recycling of PVC waste from the healthcare environment”, at the Wastecon Conference which appealed to healthcare facilities to implement an effective recycling scheme their non-hazardous PVC healthcare products. 

SAVA was proud to have hosted the bi-annual meeting of the Global Vinyls Council (GVC) in October 2014, followed by a hugely successful Vinyls SA 2014 Conference attended by more than 100 delegates and several international speakers.  Topics covered all aspects of PVC - ranging from formulation through to recovery and recycling.  The event was a huge success and an important step in establishing South Africa as one of the leaders on the international stage.  

PVC is being used with great success in new generation, alternative building technologies and SAVA in partnership with Adventure Shells showcased this technology at a recycling facility in Sasolburg by sponsoring a kitchen for use by waste sorters on the site.  

SAVA also continued its support of young entrepreneur Lisa Kuhle and her team of Eco Smart Solutions. Eco Smart manufactures commercially viable products out of up-cycled waste materials.  They have developed a niche market making use of corporate PVC banners, which they recycle into a variety of top end products, such as recycling boxes, iPad covers, hotel slippers, conference and shopping bags.

The plight of the poor, the homeless and the vulnerable is always a topic that is near to our heart and in 2014 we therefore decided to actively support StreetSleeper with equipment, business development and advertising assistance.  Street Sleeper uses innovation to tackle challenges facing homeless men and women. They upcycle PVC advertising billboards, destined for landfill, into survival sleeping bags that provide protection against the elements at night and double as backpacks during the day. Transforming the negative impact of waste into immediate relief of those living on the street.

SAVA have started to change the way that healthcare waste is managed by diverting uncontaminated PVC products from both the hazardous and non-hazardous waste streams saving costs and the environment. It’s long been believed that polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in hospital waste streams is unrecyclable but through our PVC recovery in the healthcare environment pilot projects at Cape Gate MediClinic and Constantiaberg we are making the case for an updated paradigm. 

SAVA went from strength to strength in 2014 and we were starting to pick the fruits of our labor as we saw from the results of our third Product Stewardship Survey and from increased market acceptance of our material. 

2015

In 2015, SAVA conducted the first ever PVC Recycling Survey in South Africa with the purpose to gain a clear picture about the current size of the vinyls recycling in the country, challenges facing the industry and future prospects.  SAVA also conducted its fourth annual PSP survey.

We also announced that Belgotex Flooring has become the Association’s first official license holder of the Vinyl. Product label – a mark of excellence and approval that was created specifically for the vinyls industry to give retailers and their customers peace of mind that the PVC product they are using, complies with best practice as prescribed by SAVA’s Product Stewardship Programme (PSP).

SAVA was represented at the first ever Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals conference held on African soil and used this platform for information sharing and growing collaboration between industry and academia.

Within the space of the Green Building movement within South Africa, there are various role players and stakeholders, two of which include the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) and Ecospecifier South Africa.  Through continuous engagement with the GBCSA, all of their Green Star Rating Tools (excluding the Retail tool), which previously minimised PVC, were released without this minimisation clause!  SAVA also accepted an invitation to become an Ecospecifier Industry Partner, which strengthened our collaborative relationship with Ecospecifier and reflect our interest in providing best practice PVC products to the green building movement.  SAVA also joined the African National Advisory Committee (AfNAC), which advises the GreenTag Management Team on the general oversight of the program operation relevant to South African.  As a member of AfNAC, SAVA is able to comment on the existing standard and raise any issues what we might feel require amendment, clarification or addition.

SAVA believes that the key to succeeding and avoiding costs in our current regulatory environment, is to take a proactive approach and for our industry to invest in a long-term approach towards waste management. The long-term costs of being unprepared are simply too high. To that effect, SAVA has continuously provided its members with updates on the changing legislative environment related to waste management and have also represented the PVC industry as a whole in various meetings and workshops with DEA to this effect.

SAVA was invited to present our PSP programme, its progress and challenges at the annual Vinyl Sustainability Forum in Europe, where representatives from the United Nations Environmental Programme was also present.