SA Plastics Pact: Naspers, Takealot & Media24 Join

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by KnowESG
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Image courtesy of Naspers

Naspers, along with its subsidiaries Takealot and Media24, has become a part of the South African Plastics Pact, which is a cooperative effort among packaging producers, brand owners, retailers, recyclers, governments, and NGOs to establish a circular economy for plastics and tackle plastic packaging waste.

In 2020, the SA Plastics Pact was introduced under The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative. GreenCape, a non-profit organisation for the green economy, manages the pact, which presently has 44 members that represent significant organisations across the plastics value chain. Woolworths, Unilever, Food Lovers Market, Clicks, Spar, Pick n Pay, and others are among the members.

The SA Plastics Pact has set four ambitious targets to revamp plastic packaging use in the country:

  • Addressing problematic or needless plastic packaging via redesign, innovation, or alternative delivery models

  • Ensuring that all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable

  • Achieving an effective recycling rate of 70% for plastic packaging

  • Incorporating an average of 30% recycled content across all plastic packaging

In 2021, the members of the SA Plastics Pact eliminated, replaced, or removed 34.7 million problematic or unnecessary plastic items with more suitable alternatives. At present, 81.2% of plastic packaging placed on the market is recycled.

Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, the CEO of Naspers in South Africa, expressed her delight in collaborating with Takealot, Media24, and other members of the SA Plastics Pact to decrease plastic waste throughout the value chain. She acknowledged that plastic and packaging waste is a worldwide concern that demands local solutions and efficient systems to address it. At Naspers, they are dedicated to being part of the solution and accelerating progress towards a circular economy for plastics.

Naspers and Prosus's Scaling Sustainable Packaging - 10 Golden Rules report was published in conjunction with joining the SA Plastics Pact. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the packaging used on global delivery platforms and presents ten golden rules for the industry to enhance its utilisation of sustainable packaging and reduce its waste footprint.

The report features a dedicated section that discusses the packaging landscape in South Africa and highlights the following trends:

  • The increase in population and urbanization in South Africa has led to a rise in per capita waste generation, resulting in significant waste leakage into the environment and straining existing landfills.

  • As is common in many developing nations, the informal sector plays a crucial role in South Africa's recycling economy, with 60,000 to 90,000 individuals earning their livelihoods from informal waste collection.

  • Despite being crucial to the value chain, waste pickers only obtain 3.6% of plastics recyclables directly.

  • Virgin plastics still dominate the South African market, with the country consuming around 1.74 million tonnes of plastic polymers in 2020, providing an opportunity for increased recycling.

Although South Africa faces challenges in addressing plastic waste, the country's businesses are taking proactive measures to tackle the issue. They are using innovative tools and strategies to reduce plastic and packaging waste, demonstrating their commitment to creating a more sustainable future.

Takealot has taken various measures to reduce plastic and packaging waste, including the installation of recycling stations at its two flagship pickup points and plans to expand this to 90 new pickup points. The company recycles 98% of its onsite waste, uses FSC-certified paper packaging suppliers, and promotes recycling instructions on all of its packaging. In addition, Takealot ships certain products, such as air fryers and microwaves, in their original packaging to avoid using transportation boxes and eliminate the need for double packaging.

Media24 Logistics is taking steps to reduce its environmental impact. Investing in onsite conveyor systems to sort and recycle plastics and cardboard boxes is a significant move towards reducing waste.

Replacing unrecyclable plastic void fill and plastic tape with more sustainable alternatives such as paper or recycled packaging is also a positive step. Additionally, switching to biodegradable plastic for subscriber packaging by On the Dot, Media24 Logistics' media logistics business, is another great move towards reducing plastic waste. It's encouraging to see businesses taking the initiative to find sustainable solutions and drive the reduction of plastic and packaging waste in South Africa.

Prajna Khanna acknowledges the efforts of Takealot and Media24 in addressing the packaging waste issue in South Africa. She also emphasises the potential for platform businesses to drive change and inspire others to follow suit. However, she also recognises that there is still much work to be done to achieve a more sustainable future.

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Source: Naspers

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