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PVC Packaging

For more than half a century, PVC has been used on a global basis to meet specific functional food and beverage packaging needs for products such as honey bottles, certain medicine and oil bottles, blister packs and other packaging solutions. South Africa manufactures roughly about 12 000 tons of vinyl packaging per month that goes into bottles, thermoformed punnets, pharmaceutical blister packs, cling film etc. 

Although a small volume polymer packaging material (less than 2 % of the total PVC market in the country) it has specific, necessary uses with a relatively low environmental footprint compared to alternatives.

 

• Rigid vinyl packaging applications include tamper-resistant packaging such as used for over-the-counter medications, blister packs and clamshells typically used for cellphone SIM cards.

• Flexible vinyl is used as packaging around consumer products or food grade quality clingfilm owing to the fact that it has a very low permeability to water vapor and oxygen and therefore helps to preserve the freshness of food. 

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Benefits of PVC packaging
  • Durable, dependable, light weight and strong.
  • Offers good clarity and physical properties, including heat tolerance, controllable gas and moisture vapour transmission capabilities and sealing performance.
  • A naturally clear resin that is resistant to oils and provides an excellent barrier to most gases.
  • Offers excellent resistance to strong acids, bases and to many organic solvents, making it an excellent choice for salad dressings, mineral- and cooking oils, vinegars and honey, as well as for shampoos and cosmetic products.
  • Low permeability to water vapor and oxygen and therefore helps to preserve the freshness of food.
RECYCLING OF PVC

Plastic Successes in South Africa

PVC is considered to be one of the most versatile thermoplastics and it is recyclable in South Africa. Each year, approximately 21 000 tonnes of PVC plastic is recycled in our country alone. It is in high demand by recyclers who use it to manufacture various rigid, flexible and liquid products, such as rubber shoes, flooring, interlocking tiles, shoe soles, traffic cones, cat eyes, car mats, insulation, raincoats and many more. 

The clothing and footwear industry purchases the majority portion of PVC recyclate. Some of the larger companies re-compound the PVC recyclate for virgin replacement.

Did you know?

•Vinyl has the longest history of recycling amongst plastics and the most advanced level of mechanical recycling.

•Around 80% of vinyl is used for products that last for between 15 and 100 years. This long life means vinyl waste volumes are relatively low. 

•PVC-P recyclate is used for a variety of different applications, including conduits and cables, sheeting, shoe soles and floor tiles. ·

•PVC-U recyclate originating from the pipe sector is recycled back into pipe and profiles.

•Recycling coated fabrics, such as billboards and advertising banners, is challenging because of their composite nature.

Benefits of PVC packaging
  • Durable, dependable, light weight and strong.
  • Offers good clarity and physical properties, including heat tolerance, controllable gas and moisture vapour transmission capabilities and sealing performance. 
  • A naturally clear resin that is resistant to oils and provides an excellent barrier to most gases. 
  • Offers excellent resistance to strong acids, bases and to many organic solvents, making it an excellent choice for salad dressings, mineral- and cooking oils, vinegars and honey, as well as for shampoos and cosmetic products. 
  • Low permeability to water vapor and oxygen and therefore helps to preserve the freshness of food.
Recycling of post-consumer packaging waste: VinylLoop
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Colored trash bins used to recycle paper, plastic and glass. Digital illustration.
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Until now, South Africa has not focussed on recycling post-consumer vinyl packaging waste, due to the fact that the volumes in this market was considered to be too small to justify the costs of collection and transport. However, clean and separated vinyl waste is relatively easy to recycle and requires less energy for reprocessing than all other polymers. Moreover, using recycled vinyl in new products replaces virgin material and reduces carbon emissions associated with manufacturing virgin vinyl by up to 85% – significantly lowering the carbon footprint of new vinyl products. 

Unfortunately, waste management companies materials recovery facilities (MRFs) have the manpower or capabilities to remove this potentially valuable material from the waste stream. However, demand is growing from manufacturers to increase the use of vinyl recyclate and signatory companies of the SA Plastics Pact have publicly committed to reducing the amount of plastics being sent to landfill, promote the collection and recycling of plastic waste, and promote the use of recyclate in new products where standards permit. 

Through greater collaboration between industry, manufacturers and the wider waste and recycling sector, the vinyl industry can be part of the solution and transform our plastic waste into a sustainable future resource! 

As part of its strategy for dealing with post- consumer packaging waste submitted to Government’s Section 18 Industry Waste Management Plan, SAVA has developed a unique collection model for household packaging waste that bear the Number 3 polymer identification code. 

Known as VinylLoop, this framework sees a establishment of a dedicated, source- selected collection model in partnership with major retailers and brand owners, in support of creating a circular economy for all vinyl products sold on the local market.