PET gains momentum
Extra capacity by 2008
THE DAYS OF GLASS-BOTTLED cool drinks seem to be going the way of the dodo, as the use of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) gains momentum worldwide. Indeed, PET, which is used to make clear – rather than opaque – plastic containers, has become the packaging of choice for soft drinks and mineral water around the world, and this trend shows no signs of slowing.
KAP International subsidiary Hosaf Fibres, one of only two producers of PET in SA, is gearing itself up to take advantage of this growing demand in the coming years. According to MD Peter White, global PET growth is expected to continue at a rate of 7% a year as the packaging industry recognises the inherent benefits of PET on the basis of cost, durability and clarity, coupled with its recycling potential.
The vast majority (about 90%) of Hosaf’s PET bottle resin is sold in the form of pellets produced in the company’s state-of-the-art plant in Durban, to leading converters such as Xac Pet (a major supplier to ABI, bottler of CocaCola), Boxmore and the Astrapak group. The balance of the 60 000t of PET production is exported overseas, a figure that White suggests is unlikely to rise, due to strong local demand for product.
The company also produces polyester staple fibre at its Durban site (11000t a year) used in the traditional textile spinning sector, as well as speciality and industrial fibres for duvets, pillows and insulation at its Cape Town plant.
White says that while the traditional textile side of the business has been adversely affected by imports of Chinese textiles and clothing, the company’s 50% local market share in PET and the move into speciality and industrial fibres have served to effectively insulate it from the decline in the primary textile sector.
In 2006 Hosaf sold a total of 80 900t of bottle resin and fibres, a 10,2% increase on 2005 levels. PET sales were 7500t higher.
“We’ve also invested substantially in increasing our total polymer capacity, which has now reached 86 000t,” adds White. “The Durban plant benefits from having the only continuous polymerisation plant in subSaharan Africa, which is more cost-effective and consistent than the batch process used by other local producers. Both plants are ISO 9001 accredited and PET is approved for use by both Coca-Cola and Pepsi.”
To take advantage of the good recyclable qualities of PET – making the plastic more appealing for today’s environmentally sensitive consumers – the company has built a recycling plant under the auspices of Hosaf Recycling. The plant has the capacity to recycle 6 000t of PET bottles a year, equating to approximately 6% of SA’s consumption, and aims to increase its recycling capacity. Hosaf is also a member of Petco, an industry initiative aimed at promoting the collection and recycling of PET bottles.
“The major challenge facing the recy-
PET growth is expected to continue at a rate of 7% a year as the packaging industry recognises
the inherent benefits.
cling plant is the quality of the post-consumer bottles,” White elaborates. “The vast majority of these used bottles are scavenged off landfills, which results in low collection yields and a high level of contamination.”
Hosaf is currently operating all of its assets at full capacity and with the anticipated growth in PET demand set to continue, White says the company is actively looking at different ways to further “de-bottleneck” its plant.
“We’re looking at a variety of options that would significantly increase our capacity, but also with a mind to maintaining a competitive cost of investment,” says White.
“We’re aiming to bring that extra capacity on stream by the end of 2008. Going forward, there’s no reason to believe we won’t be running at full steam over the next few years.”
Move to speciality fibres an effective insulator against decline in primary textile sector. Peter White