Environmentally sustainable manufacturing

 
 

Achieving the highest level of environmentally sustained manufacturing remains paramount for Astrapak, who believe that ensuring a target of the lowest possible wastage of raw and processed material during production leads them closer to deserving their license to operate in this competitive plastics industry.

Not only does this objective drive the moral and social values set by the leadership, it also creates a wonderful discipline amongst all employees, which contributes to cleaner safer and more efficient work and production space.

By continuously measuring and assessing environmental impacts of power usage, air pollution, direct waste generation and end of life treatment of their products, Astrapak identifies areas where impact can be minimised. They also develop targets for ongoing improvement in these same areas. The Group uses all statutory and regulatory requirements as a minimum standard and strives to adopt more extensive improvement standards in all areas of their operations.

Astrapak minimises waste through careful and efficient use of all their materials and energy. By using sustainable or sustainably generated materials wherever possible – including recycled plastic, bio-plastics and renewable energy – Astrapak remains alert to changes in the availability of technology thereby reducing their impact on the environment.

From an operations point of view, Astrapak calls on the services of Re-Ethical Environmental Re-engineering (PTY) Ltd to manage their waste. Re-Ethical focuses on identifying environmental and waste management requirements and addresses these with innovative solutions.

By sorting through Astrapak’s waste, Re-Ethical determines what material can be re-used in the manufacturing process, while the remainder of the waste is sold to third parties for reuse or recycling. The Group continues its effort to reduce the levels of waste generated from direct operations. Re-Ethical also offers frequent training sessions and advice on various environmental issues.

Astrapak will continue to increase the levels of recycled plastic content of its products. Certain products already contain up to 50% recycled PET (rPET) or recycled HDPE (rHDPE) with an expected improvement over the next two to three years.

In one of the plants, the processed off-cut of a manufactured unit amounts to as much as 30% during the manufacturing process. 100% of the off-cut is recovered and reused within the manufacturing process in a closed-loop system. This continuous process of in-line recycling ensures that Astrapak generates less scrap. The levels of in-house recycling of plastic waste into products such as refuse bags and agricultural sheeting continues to improve annually.

Astrapak subscribes to and is an active member of relevant industry organisations in various capacities, which range from Board representation to the payment of statutory industry levies. The organisations conform to the same principles as Astrapak.

Astrapak is in the process of implementing an integrated Group-wide energy management strategy, which will place particular emphasis on energy management and energy-efficient procurement policies. These measures are intended to contribute to the Group’s long term objective of reducing both energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions generated by its activities.

The implementation of energy consumption-reducing initiatives such as equipment upgrades and investigation into renewable energy alternatives remain a focus of Astrapak’s activities.

Immediate ways in which Astrapak has begun implementing energy-saving change is by replacing all of their light bulbs with energy saving units. Findings of a compressed air audit mentioned that blocking air leaks would save energy and electricity consumption. Another alternative was to employ variable speeds on the machinery so that they are not running on maximum power all the time.

There remains no doubt at all that the expectations which are set for a more conscious and careful approach by every employee to conform to environmentally sustainable actions, are driven at every level in the business with management leading the way. Every programme adopted is carefully communicated to all levels and monitoring of progress and reaching targets is not negotiable. To remain relevant and differentiate themselves in the market and industry, Astrapak have set out on a path of no return with results that will speak for themselves in terms of overall environmental and business sustainability.