Nampak R&D – central to our strategic delivery

In October 2016 Nampak Research & Development celebrated 70 years of scientific and technical expertise in the development, production and use of world-class packaging. This benefits, promotes and adds value to our divisions and our customers, supporting the delivery of our service offering and the management of our material issues.

While Nampak R&D’s responsibilities are many and varied, in particular the work that we do to reduce the weight of our products contributes significantly to national efforts to reduce the amount of post-consumer packaging waste. By making our products lighter, we reduce our consumption of raw materials; we require less energy to transport our finished products; and we reduce the volume of post-consumer packaging waste. This is done without affecting the integrity of our products or the requirement that they be fit for purpose. Together with our support and facilitation of the recycling, reuse and recovery of packaging, we minimise our environmental impacts while providing world-class products that protect food and beverages, and ultimately benefit our customers’ sales.

In Metals, our aluminium beverage cans weigh 60% less than tinplate cans and are 100% recyclable. Lines that produce aluminium cans consume 17% less energy per can than those that produce tinplate cans. As the end product is lighter, these lines also reduce transport costs. Our lighter two-piece food can, which is made from 0.29mm tinplate versus 0.31 mm used previously, is now available throughout South Africa. We continuously evaluate opportunities to use lighter materials and innovative designs to ensure that we constantly improve our packaging. Some 70% of all metal packaging in South Africa is collected for recycling – comparing very favourably with rates in the rest of the world.

In Glass, in 2016 waste glass or cullet made up 47% of the content of our bottles. By using cullet in our furnaces, we saved 196 terajoules of energy during the year, with the benefit of fewer CO2 emissions. We started commissioning new cullet-sorting technology that will enable cullet to be colour sorted to a much finer level, facilitating an increase in the usage of mixed cullet that we procure from glass recyclers. Four-fifths of all beer sold in South Africa is sold in returnable glass bottles, and some 41% of all glass packaging in South Africa is collected for recycling.

In Plastics, in the year we embarked on a project to reduce the weight of our crates, as well as that of some of our plastic closures. We reduced the weight of our 1ℓ PET milk bottle from 47g to 35.5g, while increasing its recycled PET content from 30% to 50%, as well as reducing the weight of the 2ℓ HDPE milk bottle from 43g to 38g. We continue to work on other light-weighting projects for bottles and crates. Our Infini milk bottles in the UK offer an average 16% weight saving across the range, with specific bottle sizes achieving weight reductions of up to 25%. They contain at least 20% recycled HDPE, which is forecast to grow to 50% by 2020. About 46% of all plastic packaging in South Africa is collected for recycling.