Johannesburg, 31 March 2016. The South African plastics Industry and government have the power to invent the future of the sustainable use of plastics if they harness imagination and creativity with the latest scientific and international developments.
Above FLTR: Monya Vermaak, Anton Hanekom, Dame Anne Glover, Alec Erwin, Mefane Makutla, Jason Drew, Douw Steyn, Mandy Naude
This was the underlying message of the six keynote speakers who addressed delegates at the Plastics|SA Conference that was held on the 16th of March 2016 as part of the Propak Africa Exhibition that took place at the NASREC Exhibition Centre, South of Johannesburg. The theme of the second industry-specific conference that was hosted by Plastics|SA, and sponsored in part by POLYCO and the Polystyrene Packaging Council (PSPC), was “The Triple Bottom Line and the Plastics Industry: People, Planet, Profit”.
Local and international speakers were invited to present their views on what the future holds for the South African plastics industry and the impact it has on the planet, its workforce and future profits.
“Three years ago, we set ourselves the aspirational vision of achieving zero plastics to landfill by 2030. We are working tirelessly to achieve this objective over the next 14 years through separation at source initiatives, growing imports and exports to Africa, developing the levels of new product innovation and skills development and growing industry support through public-private partnerships and working with government,” Plastics|SA Executive Director Anton Hanekom said in his welcome address.
Keynote speaker and the first Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission, Dame Anne Glover, stressed the need for collaboration in science, and said that with knowledge comes understanding, allowing us to tackle global challenges in a rational way.
“There are many skills and much expertise in the Plastics Industry. These assets have to be used to ensure a sustainable business which has as its primary concern the society in which it works and where its products are used and the planet whose resources are vital for the industry. Innovation and creativity are key to addressing these challenges. This approach guides industry to sustainable production which will also deliver profitability”, Dame Glover said.
Ex-Trade and Industry Minister, Alec Erwin, was the day’s second keynote speaker and provided practical advice to local plastics businesses on how to increase trading in Africa.
“Look at the facts, not at what politicians are telling you. We are living on a continent that is the fastest growing region in the world and there are high levels of industrial activity taking place. There are many opportunities waiting for you in infrastructure, industry and agriculture, but you are going to need a clear plan of action and a well thought-out strategy if you are going to have a competitive advantage over India, Russia, China, Brazil and other rapidly industrialising nations making inroads into the continent,” Erwin warned.
Encouraging delegates to think outside the box, environmental entrepreneur and sustainability expert Jason Drew said that the industrial revolution is over, and that we are now finding ourselves in the midst of the sustainability revolution. “It is no longer business as usual. The world is looking for products that are repairable, durable and upgradable to fulfil their needs, allowing companies to make a profit of up to four times off the same product,” Drew said.
Astrapak HR Director, Mefane Makhutla focused on the people aspect of the plastics industry. “The plastics industry is becoming highly technological and automated, with specialised skill requirements unique to the industry. For this reason, we have to nurture the talent we have. The technological advancements we have will be useless without developing the human component,” he said.
Meluleki Nzimande, a partner at Webber Wentzel Attorneys specialising in international trade law, spoke about the recent phasing out of import tariffs for polymers contributing to more competitive input prices, and trends analyst and media personality Dion Chang ended the day on a high note with his presentation on how the business of disruption, through digitisation, social media, recession and individualism, is leading to the collapse of traditional business value chains.
The delegates agreed that the conference was relevant, insightful and interesting. Comments included: “Some speakers had the ability to excite you and let the creative juices flow”, “Very motivating and inspiring”, “Opening speaker was very inspirational”, “Innovative discussions, hearing about real life examples and their synergies”.
For more information, photographs and presentations, visit www.plasticsinfo.co.za
For more information or comments, please contact Monya Vermaak on (011) 314-4021 or email: Monya.Vermaak@plasticssa.co.za. Media enquiries to Monique@aimmarketing.co.za or (071) 083-5219.