PlasticsSA takes training offering online

Plastics SA Training Division turning a challenge into an opportunity.

After all training courses were halted with immediate effect when the COVID-19 lockdown regulations were announced at the end of March, PlasticsSA’s Training Division turned the challenge into an opportunity!

Although we have never offered online training before, the Regional Managers  and Trainers together with the Training Administrators at Plastics|SA rose to the challenge of transforming all of the theoretical and classroom practical learning content that they usually offer for in-classroom learning, into an interactive, live online platform.

We’ve been overwhelmed  by the industry’s positive response to our online training offerings and excited that vital training continues in their organisations. 

Companies who have already enrolled learners for the online learning experience include Verigreen, Tropic Plastics, Fibre-Wound, Smiths Manufacturing, First National Battery, Mpact Plastics, Master Plastics, Chespak, Plaslantic, Gold Sun Industries, Lumotech Uitenhage and PlastiColors.

Many of our learners do not have access to their own computers, data or a stable Wi-Fi connection. However, thanks to careful planning and close working partnerships with their employers, our efforts have paid off and it’s happening! Because most learners are enrolled by their employers, the onus rests on the company to provide a conducive learning environment and a reliable computer and internet connection to ensure the success of the learning programme.

We are proud of our team of trainers and the students who embraced this new way of life.  They have gone out of their way to be creative and ensure that the practical components of training are satisfied through the use of material samples and examples of quality defects in the training sessions. A specially designed virtual classroom has been created for the online training, using the same format as the classroom-based training. The learning content continues to be very interactive, with many classroom activities and exercises interspersed throughout the course.

Engaged and focused learners, throughout the learning process, is essential and all of the necessary steps are in place to make the online experience as rewarding, interactive and seamless as possible. The practical aspects of the training that require hands-on experience, are scheduled for when the companies are able to arrange safe transportation of the learners to one of Plastics|SA’s three training facilities located in Midrand (Gauteng), Maitland (Western Cape) and Pinetown (KwaZulu-Natal).

We have put all of the necessary safety measures and protocols  in place to accommodate the learners for practicals, but it is up to the employer companies to determine when their employees can complete their training offsite.

Learning programmes already on offer online include:

  • Skills Programmes and Learnerships viz. Principles of Quality
  • Apply study and learning techniques
  • Read and Interpret Engineering Drawings
  • Understand and Deal with HIV Aids
  • Apply SHEQ Processes and Procedures
  • Maintain and Monitor SHEQ Systems & Procedures
  • Process Machine Construction
  • Understand Production Process and Quality Principles in Plastics Manufacturing
  • Basic Raw Materials and Generic Management.

Download an illustration of how the process works.

For more information please contact the branch in your region.

Western Cape and Port Elizabeth:

KwaZulu Natal and East London:





Innovative bottle spacers treat asthma

Innovative bottle spacers to treat asthma

An innovative approach is set to make a huge impact on treating asthma in South Africa, made more critical during the coronavirus pandemic. Asthma treatment is usually given by an inhaler, but to get medication more effectively to the lungs in a crisis, the use of a spacer along with the inhaler, or a nebuliser is required.


Extraordinary times require extraordinary solutions.  The bottle spacer programme, pioneered at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town aims at bridging the gap between expensive commercial spacers and the need in low income communities. The team has tested and evaluated the efficacy of using plastic bottle spacers, which are immediately available, instead of expensive spacers.


This plastic bottle spacer not only allows the medication to work much more effectively, but also has the added benefit of minimising droplets in the air and ultimately reducing the risk to staff and patients becoming infected with the coronavirus.


When one uses an asthma pump directly in the mouth most of the spray hits the back of the throat and does not go into the lungs.  A spacer is a chamber filled with air, with the asthma pump fitting into the back.  When you spray the pump first inside the chamber and then breathe this air into one’s lungs, the spray goes into the deepest part of the lungs where it is needed the most.


“Since Prof Heather Zar first pioneered bottle spacers back in the late 90s using a manual burning technique, we have been using them at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.  But from just a few hundred units a year, we needed to produce tens of thousands, to facilitate the large-scale use of spacers in the public health service across the country,” Prof Michael Levin, Head of Allergy at Red Cross and project lead, explains.


Polyoak Packaging partnered with Habitat industries to create a custom blow-mould base with an indentation in the shape of an asthma pump nozzle.


“During production when the bottle is blown and the plastic is still soft, air is blasted into the bottle base which creates the inhaler size extrusion. So, after that, the only small manual task is to slice off the end of the indentation leaving a perfect-fit attachment hole for the inhaler.  Polyoak has even been able to include the Allergy Foundation website address on the base of the bottle,” continues Prof Levin.


“This is an example of an innovative boundary spanning project which aims to bring a low cost clinically-effective solution to patients across the province, and potentially the country,” says Dr Anita Parbhoo, Medical Manager at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Prof Mike Levin is excited about using the new bottle spacer

The innovative bottle spacer with extrusion

The inhaler fits snugly into the hole.


Information Courtesy of Western Cape Government



DOW joins Hands with PlasticsSA to ensure Clean Hands

Social distancing and good hygiene are two practices that are at the centre of the fight against COVID-19. Thousands of people living in Cape Town’s poorer communities and townships, however, do not have access to clean, running water in their homes in order to regularly wash their hands.

In an effort to reduce the risk of cross infection in the Mother City’s most vulnerable communities, Dow Southern Africa partnered with Plastics|SA and the Justice Coalition last week to distribute 20 liter PacXpert plastics pouches –  lightweight, refillable bags, containing soapy water – to COVID-19 action community groups operating in Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Woodstock and Wynberg. The City of Cape Town’s Solid Waste Department also received 80 of these bags for use on their trucks by waste collectors.

“The COVID-19 pandemic presents us with new challenges every day. Recognising the health dangers that are posed when many hands touch and use the same tap to access running water, we wanted to offer a practical solution that would help flatten the curve and prevent people from leaving the safe confines of their homes during the period of national lockdown,” says Cicelia van Rooi, Managing Director of Dow Southern Africa.

The PacXpert pouch is an award-winning, flexible and sustainable alternative to using conventional containers. It lightweight, durable, refillable and easy to use thanks to its distinctive cube shape that makes it very stable. The pouch stands equally well upright, on its side or cab be hanged.  It can also be re-used many times over and is fully recyclable.

According to John Kieser, Plastics|SA’s Sustainability Manager, they have been distributing these bags under the banner of Dow’s Project Butterfly – a social initiative that was launched in 2017 with the primary focus of creating jobs and reducing plastic pollution in South Africa through education, clean-ups and innovation-focused initiatives.

“We were able to distribute these bags quickly and effectively to various smaller community groups operating around the city and have dedicated teams in place to replenish the bags with soap and water twice a day,” Kieser said.

“Dow supplies the world with materials needed for many life-critical applications, such as disinfectants, sanitizers, cleansers, personal protection equipment for healthcare professionals, memory foams for hospital beds, and more. I am very proud that we are able to make a small, but very important contribution to fighting the pandemic by putting our assets to work to help protect human health, protect our environment, and help reduce the impact of the pandemic on the world we all share,” Van Rooi concludes.


For more information visit or



  • The Justice Coalition is a democratic, mass-based social movement that campaigns for the advancement of the constitutional rights to life, dignity, equality, freedom and safety for all people, but especially those living in informal settlements across South Africa. (
  • Dow (NYSE: DOW) combines global breadth, asset integration and scale, focused innovation and leading business positions to achieve profitable growth. The Company’s ambition is to become the most innovative, customer centric, inclusive and sustainable materials science company. Dow’s portfolio of plastics, industrial intermediates, coatings and silicones businesses delivers a broad range of differentiated science-based products and solutions for its customers in high-growth market segments, such as packaging, infrastructure and consumer care. Dow operates 109 manufacturing sites in 31 countries and employs approximately 36,500 people. Dow delivered sales of approximately $43 billion in 2019. References to Dow or the Company mean Dow Inc. and its subsidiaries. For more information, please visit dow.comor follow @DowNewsroom on Twitter.
  • Dow is helping to create jobs and reduce plastic pollution in South Africa through their social initiative, Project Butterfly. Introduced in 2017 in the township of Tembisa, Johannesburg, Project Butterfly works with non-profit organizations and local communities to tackle poor waste management through education, clean-ups and innovation-focused initiatives. Currently active in Johannesburg and Durban, Project Butterfly is part of Dow’s global commitment to address plastic pollution and create a more sustainable planet. (



Plastics Industry shows its support for waste pickers during Lockdown

Johannesburg, April 20, 2020.  South Africa has close to 60 000 waste pickers who play a substantial role in the country’s waste management industry. As part of the country’s informal waste sector, they help recover recyclables from household waste streams, as well as waste materials sent to landfill sites. With the country in a national lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak, these waste reclaimers suddenly and unexpectedly found themselves unable to put food on the table due to the fact that economic activity was limited to essential food and health products or services only.


“It became clear that South Africa is not only facing a global health pandemic, but increasingly also the possibility of a humanitarian crisis as these waste reclaimers are no longer allowed to work and earn a living,” says Anton Hanekom, Executive Director of Plastics|SA – the umbrella body representing all sectors of the South African plastics industry – including polymer producers and importers, converters, machine suppliers, fabricators and recyclers.


Despite the fact that many role-players in the plastics industry are suffering financial losses during this time as they had to either close down or greatly reduce their operations, Plastics|SA, the plastics PROs, the other packaging PROs and Packaging SA rallied together to donate funds when the request was made by Packaging SA. Working in close partnership with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and in support of the members of the two associations representing the waste pickers/reclaimers, i.e. the South African Waste Pickers Association (SAWPA), African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO), a total amount of R785, 000.00 was collected within a matter of days. These funds will now be used to purchase electronic food vouchers that will be sent to the collectors who are on the DEFF database via cellphones and can be redeemed at major supermarket retailers.


“We felt deeply affected by the dire and uncertain circumstances these waste reclaimers, who play an important role in the waste management industry, were facing. Because they are not incorporated into the country’s formal waste economy, they tend to lead a hand-to-mouth existence, which means that their income and thus food supply is directly linked to the amount of recyclables they collect on a daily basis, which completely ceased during the period of lockdown ,” says Mandy Naudé of Polyco.


Cheri Scholtz of PETCO highlighted the important role reclaimers play in the recovery of PET bottles and other recyclables in South Africa for reprocessing, and in the process, a lifeline for themselves as reclaimers are paid on a daily basis for the product they deliver to buy-back centres and reprocessors. “In the current situation, recycling is not an essential service and therefore the loss of access to collection has created great hardship for reclaimers,” she stressed.

“Waste pickers make valuable resources available for reintroduction into the economy, while saving landfill airspace. In some instances, these informal waste reclaimers are the only people who recover recyclables in municipalities that do not have a two-bin collection system for separation at source. We have a responsibility to support them in these trying times, they are in desperate need to feed their families,” says Adri Spangenberg, CEO of the Polystyrene Association of SA and the Southern African Vinyls Association (SAVA).

The South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO) said that the collection of plastics for recycling is a lifeline for many informal waste reclaimers. “At a time when this very livelihood is threatened (because of the lockdown situation) we consider it the least we can do to ensure our collectors and their families have food on the table,” said Johann Conradie, Chairman of SAPRO.

“Aside from supporting sustainable livelihoods, these informal waste reclaimers provide plastic feedstock to our buyback centres and recycling plants. They form the backbone of our recycling economy in South Africa and enable us to achieve the fantastic recycling rates we do!” he added.

“The current COVID-19 crisis has left no sector or industry untouched. Despite facing their own financial and operational hardships, I commend our PROs, every member and individual company who stepped up to the plate without a moment’s hesitation. Irrespective of the amount, every donation made to the waste pickers’ fund or who answered our call to donate to the Solidarity Fund, has helped to make a difference in somebody’s life. Helping one person might not have changed the whole world, but it changed the world for one person.


From the plastics industry’s side, we will do our best to offer them our on-going support during this difficult time in recognition of the important work they do. There is no certainty when the lockdown will end, and we therefore challenge everybody involved in the waste management sector to rally with us and to continue making tax deductible financial contributions to lighten the burden of the waste pickers. Once the lockdown restrictions ease, we will do everything in our power to get the recycling industry operating at full capacity as quickly as possible,” Anton concludes.


Donations can be made into the following bank account:

PAMDEV NPC (t/a Fibre Circle)
Account number: 250791749
Standard Bank | Branch code 005726 | Hillcrest

Reference: Company Name – Food voucher


Companies can request a tax certificate by emailing their details and proof of payment to

[i] According to the 2018 Plastics Recycling Survey published by Plastics|SA

A brief history of the major plastic polymers

Plastics are such a vital part of modern life; we have become unaware of how much we rely on them every day. However, many plastic polymers have only been around for a few decades. Life before these innovative materials was very different. They have made modern living simpler and safer, thanks to their durability, affordability and versatility.

The first major discovery of a plastic polymer was made in 1862. Since then, new polymers have been developed and discovered continuously – rapidly increasing from the end of the 1920s. Here is a brief history of each of the major plastic polymers and how they have changed the way in which we live.


First developed in 1862, Parkesine was the first man-made plastic. It’s inventor, Alexander Parkes, revealed the plant-based polymer at the Great International Exhibition in London. Parkesine is a transparent and mouldable plastic that retains its shape when cooled. It was first marketed as a cheaper alternative to rubber, allowing users to mould and create whatever they needed.


In 1865, John Wesley Hyatt developed a new way to make billiard balls from cellulose nitrate. This material was far cheaper than the traditional ivory balls. Soon afterward, companies began manufacturing numerous products from celluloid, such as bowls and combs, as a cheaper alternative to bone, tortoiseshell and other expensive materials.


This modified celluloid polymer was developed in Paris by Louis Marie Hilaire Bernigaut in 1891. He was looking for a way to manufacture a substitute for silk – a polymer that could be extruded into thin, shiny strands and woven together to form a silky fabric. Bernigaut called the polymer rayon because it had a shiny appearance that reflected rays of light.


In 1907, a completely synthetic plastic was developed that retained its shape and form, even under stress and heat. Bakelite became extremely popular in the 1920s when numerous products were manufactured from the polymer. Plastic jewellery, telephones and clocks became popular as people embraced the unique appearance of Bakelite.


Cellophane was invented by a Swiss chemist in 1912 who was looking to create a waterproof tablecloth. Later, in 1927, cellophane was used to wrap sweets and candies which really punted its use in the food industry to new heights. This moisture-resistant polymer kept the sweets fresh for longer as water vapour in the air could not affect the sugary treats within the wrapping.


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) was developed in the 1920s to replace natural rubber. It quickly became known as one of the most versatile plastics. It is commonly used to make medical tubing, plumbing pipes and construction products. PVC can be both rigid and flexible, which was why it became so popular in a number of industries.


This widely-used plastic was first developed in the 1930s in the United Kingdom. Polyethylene is the most popular polymer to date and is the mainstay of modern packaging. It is used to create polyethylene terephthalate (PET) beverage bottles, high-density polyethylene (PE-HD) containers and low-density (PE-LD) shopping bags. 

Polyvinylidene Chloride

Not to be confused with PVC, this polymer was discovered by accident in 1933. It was initially used to protect military and naval equipment from the effects of saltwater at sea due to its ability to cling to other materials and form a protective barrier. Polyvinylidene chloride is also used as a protective film for food packaging and is marketed as “Saran wrap”.


This polymer changed the entire textiles and clothing industry. Nylon was developed in 1939, after which DuPont unveiled women’s stockings made from nylon at the World Fair in New York. Nylon quickly became an affordable man-made alternative to silk and cotton, finding particular use in military clothing during World War II.


Polyester was first discovered in the 1940s, but only gained significant popularity in the 1950s. DuPont marketed a new fabric under the name “Dacron”, which was simply woven polyester strands. This became the first washable synthetic fabric and the textile industry has never been the same.


Polypropylene (PP) came about in the 1950s but it began with a legal battle over its true inventors. It is a highly-versatile plastic that is used to manufacture a variety of moulded products, such as dairy tubs for butter and ice cream, plastic furniture, buckets, car bumpers, fibres and woven cloth. It can be used in almost all plastic applications.

Polystyrene foam

Also called expanded polystyrene, this polymer was developed in 1954 by Dow Chemicals. The company introduced the polymer under the brand name “Styrofoam” and was marketed as a lightweight protective packaging product. It is used to make packaging peanuts, takeaway food containers and coffee cups.

These polymers have become so widely used that we don’t even notice the importance of plastics in our daily lives. The innovations that led to the development of some of these products are often underappreciated. Plastics have a vital role to play in modern living, the economy and even the environment.


Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Four cool facts about plastics recycling

The main benefit of most plastics is that they are recyclable. We can keep existing materials in circulation and reuse most plastic products over and over again. Plastics are a valuable material – they are cheap to manufacture and are used in every aspect of daily life. They also require little energy to produce and recycle, making these durable products carbon-efficient.

The South African recycling industry is one of the best in the world. In 2018 alone, the sector processed 352 000 tonnes of plastic waste back into raw material. That’s 15% more than in Europe. The industry provides income opportunities for around 60 000 South Africans, contributing just under R2.3-billion to the economy. Here are four more facts about plastics recycling that you may not know:

1. Used packaging isn’t always recycled into new packaging

Recyclers clean, shred and extrude plastic waste into small pellets that are then sold back to plastics manufacturers as raw material. While certain polymers are separated from the waste stream and processed together, it does not necessarily mean that they will be turned into similar products – PET bottles don’t always get recycled back into PET bottles. Some of these plastics are turned into toys, garden furniture, clothing, duvet inners, floor mats and even car bumpers.

2. Bottles can be recycled into clothing

Building on from the previous point, plastic bottles are often turned into woven fabrics for the clothing and textile industry. The PET plastic waste is cleaned, shredded, melted and stretched into thin threads of plastic. These threads are then woven together, just like cotton, to produce rolls of material that can be turned into shopping bags, t-shirts and even fleece jackets.

3. Plastics recyclers want your lids

Many people discard their lids in the general waste bin. Bottle caps, butter tub lids and other removable lids are just as valuable as the actual containers themselves. In fact, recyclers want these plastic products because they are usually clean, label-free and easy to process. Consumers should always put the lids back on the containers and discard them in a recycling bin.

4. Plastic shopping bags can be recycled

There is a myth that plastic shopping bags cannot be recycled. While this may have been true a decade ago, new technologies and recycling processes have allowed recyclers to process thin grocery bags. The same goes for cling films, zip-lock bags, product wraps and other flexible packaging materials. In fact, shopping bags are 100% recyclable, meaning that there is no wasted material in the recycling process.

These four facts about recycling show why it is such an important industry in modern life and how it supports tens of thousands of South Africans. Every citizen has a responsibility to dispose of their plastic waste in a responsible manner by placing it in a recycling bin. Companies and plastics manufacturers are already doing everything they can to ensure that these products are used properly and are recycled effectively.


Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.