POLYMERS

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Founded in 1972, Safripol is the only local producer of polyethylene terephthalate (‘PET’) and high-density polyethylene (‘HDPE’), and one of two producers of polypropylene (‘PP’) in South Africa. Polymers are used in a broad range of applications, including piping, multipurpose containers, fibres, films, non-woven fabrics, packaging and bottling.

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POLYMERS

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Founded in 1972, Safripol is the only local producer of polyethylene terephthalate (‘PET’) and high-density polyethylene (‘HDPE’), and one of two producers of polypropylene (‘PP’) in South Africa. Polymers are used in a broad range of applications, including piping, multipurpose containers, fibres, films, non-woven fabrics, packaging and bottling.

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2020 HIGHLIGHTS

Independent customer survey rated Safripol the Polymer Supplier of Choice

Safripol contributed financially to Plastics SA and PETCO to support the recycling of plastic waste

R8 million spent on research and development to improve recyclability efficiencies for customers and in our process

ISO 9001 Quality standards implemented across all operations

ISO 14001 Environmental standards certified at Sasolburg

OSH 18001 Safety standards certified at Sasolburg

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2020 HIGHLIGHTS

Independent customer survey rated Safripol the Polymer Supplier of Choice

Safripol contributed financially to Plastics SA and PETCO to support the recycling of plastic waste

R8 million spent on research and development to improve recyclability efficiencies for customers and in our process

ISO 9001 Quality standards implemented across all operations

ISO 14001 Environmental standards certified at Sasolburg

OSH 18001 Safety standards certified at Sasolburg

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PET
204 430
tonnes produced
HDPE
150 598
tonnes produced

LOOKING AHEAD

Continue to produce bio-PET for ‘plant-based’ bottle applications at the Durban plant

Continue to target a 75% copolymer product mix

Improve our customers’ efficiencies and profitability

Remain committed to the reduction, recycling and reuse of plastic and the more responsible use of plastic

Participate in initiatives to increase the level of recycling in South Africa and explore the potential to integrate recycling into our existing operations

PRODUCTS

PET
Primarily used in the manufacture of bottles for carbonated soft drinks

HDPE
Used for a wide range of applications, such as pipes, chemical containers, toys and packaging

PP
Used for a wide range of applications, such as furniture, clothing, textiles and automotive components and packaging

PP
110 634
tonnes produced

PRODUCTS

PET
Primarily used in the manufacture of bottles for carbonated soft drinks

HDPE
Used for a wide range of applications, such as pipes, chemical containers, toys and packaging

PP
Used for a wide range of applications, such as furniture, clothing, textiles and automotive components and packaging

PET
204 430
tonnes produced
HDPE
150 598
tonnes produced
PP
110 634
tonnes produced

LOOKING AHEAD

Continue to produce bio-PET for ‘plant-based’ bottle applications at the Durban plant

Continue to target a 75% copolymer product mix

Improve our customers’ efficiencies and profitability

Remain committed to the reduction, recycling and reuse of plastic and the more responsible use of plastic

Participate in initiatives to increase the level of recycling in South Africa and explore the potential to integrate recycling into our existing operations

‘Our purpose is for polymers to be the sustainable choice of material for a wide range of applications.’

– Nico van Niekerk

‘Our purpose is for polymers to be the sustainable choice of material for a wide range of applications.’

– Nico van Niekerk

Nico van Niekerk, CEO | Polymers

Nico graduated from the University of Stellenbosch in 1986 as a chemical engineer. He has also completed an MBA and a Global Executive Development Programme through GIBS. He started his career at the Atomic Energy Corporation and joined Safripol in 1989. During his 30-year career in polymers he held various positions in engineering, production management and technology management. The Dow Chemical Company, which owned Safripol, appointed Nico to start up and optimise the Dow PP plants in Europe and the USA, where he worked and lived for one and two and a half years respectively. In 2003 Nico returned to South Africa and was part of the MBO of Safripol with majority shareholder Rockwood Capital. KAP acquired Safripol in 2017, at which time Nico was the COO. He was appointed as CEO in July 2019.

We are committed to leading the development of a sustainable polymer industry servicing an ever-widening range of applications. The growth and sustainability of the division are not mutually exclusive, and we focus on certain key areas in order to grow the business on a sustainable basis.

Product innovation

In the PET product category, we continue to make significant strides in developing product solutions that improve our customers’ operational efficiency and reduce their environmental impact. For example, successful tests were recently concluded on a new PET formulation that maintains the intrinsic benefits of PET, namely viscosity and clarity, while effectively reducing the energy required to produce a PET bottle by up to 15%, thereby reducing our customer’s carbon footprint.

A major carbonated soft drinks customer also conducted successful trials with the introduction of a returnable PET bottle. Working with the customer, we developed a new PET formulation which will allow the bottle to be used eight to ten times before it is recycled. The bottle is thicker, but its viscosity and clarity still meet the customer’s standards. The customer is now launching this product nationally.

Safripol continues to produce bio-PET for ‘plant-based’ bottle applications at the Durban plant. We are constantly re-engineering our HDPE products to make them more recyclable and suitable for new product applications. The material is typically used in milk bottle production and was recently redesigned to improve its recyclability. We are in the process of having our HDPE material approved for use in vehicle fuel tanks.

The Safripol PP operation focuses on producing higher-value copolymers, as these products provide improved operational solutions for our customers and attract better margins. The PP copolymers are now 50% (FY19: 46%) of the product mix. We are targeting a 75% copolymer product mix.

Customer engagement

Safripol recently completed a management restructure and introduced a new sales force, new management information systems and additional technical capability, which is focused on improving our customers’ efficiencies and profitability. This has yielded significant improvements in market share and customer satisfaction with local PET sales volumes growing 26% year on year in the local market, regaining market share and displacing imports.

Sustainability

We are committed to the reduction, recycling and reuse of plastic and the more responsible use of plastic. Plastic has many benefits and often has less impact on the environment when we take the entire value chain into account compared to alternative products. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions and water usage, it outperforms most substitute products across the life cycle of the product. For example, recent independent research indicates that a plastic packet is better for the environment than a paper packet. Read more

Safripol acknowledges that poor waste management of plastic has a negative impact on the environment. We are therefore involved in and committed to several initiatives directed at promoting more responsible treatment of plastic and reducing the impact of discarded plastic on the environment.

Safripol recently hosted a sustainability forum for our customers and the packaging industry. The 145 attendees were exposed to international and local speakers. Topics included: understanding plastics in the marine environment, a presentation from the global Alliance to End Plastic Waste, an understanding of how recycling works in South Africa, how the country is transitioning to a circular economy, and the responsibility of each member of the value chain. Watch

Waste plastic has value as it is recyclable and reusable. We participate in a number of initiatives to increase the level of recycling in South Africa and are exploring the potential to integrate recycling into our existing operations. Safripol continues to provide financial and management support to several industry forums, such as PETCO, Polyco, Plastics SA and Packaging SA, which are all focused on more responsible use of plastic.

These industry forums conduct a number of activities, including research, clean-up operations, education and training, and provide financial support to recyclers. The industry forums continuously engage with government, industry and local communities to address the environmental issues around discarded plastic. Safripol participated in the Plastics Colloquium, which was initiated by the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and Plastics SA.

In conjunction with PETCO, we have funded the start-up of two recycling plants.
Read more

Safripol conducts its own beach clean-ups with the help of our employees.

Operational efficiencies

In a highly competitive polymer industry whose margins are globally indexed, Safripol focuses continuously on improving efficiencies and reducing costs. In order to ensure that we remain globally competitive, Safripol regularly conducts studies with independent, internationally recognised companies, such as PTAI and Nexant to benchmark our operations against international competitors. Recent studies by Nexant place Safripol’s HDPE and PP in the middle quartile of global competitiveness. The PET study is in progress, with early indications that the plant will be ranked globally in the 2nd quartile.

The benchmark studies indicate that we are a competitive manufacturer when compared to our global peers, particularly in light of the scale of the competitors and their access to raw materials. Safripol’s proximity to our markets creates an additional competitive advantage.

Since our recent restructure, we have improved both our supply chain and customer service levels. Progress has been made on improving the inbound raw material supply chain, which has materially reduced the risk of mismatching the cost of PET raw materials and the globally indexed PET selling prices.

During the year, the International Trade Administration Commission (‘ITAC’) increased the import duties on PET from 10% to 15%. Anti-dumping duties were imposed and gazetted against several Chinese-based PET manufacturers.

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