Recycling gets schooled with Nampak Liquid Cartons’ donation of desks made from PolyAlu
A well-timed contribution to Global Recycling Day played out on Thursday, 16 March, when Nampak Liquid Cartons (NLC) donated 50 upcycled desks to Actonville Primary School in Benoni.
What is special about these new items of classroom furniture is that a high proportion of the materials used in their production was derived from used milk, juice and cold drink cartons.
Despite limited recycling capacity in South Africa, beverage cartons are recyclable. Using special hydro pulping technology, the paperboard is separated from the plastic and foil layers (PolyAlu), explained Edith Leeuta, CEO of Fibre Circle.
The paper fibre is used to make new paper packaging. “End-use for PolyAlu still has a way to go but this hasn’t stopped companies like Infinite Industries from making it into useful items,” added Leeuta, who was delighted to see the presentation of another practical application for discarded packaging material.
“For Global Recycling Day, we wanted to find an initiative that spoke to our goal of being a sustainable packaging supplier, while also raising awareness of the importance of recycling,” said marketing manager of Nampak Paper and Plastic Terry van der Walt.
From a Fibre Circle perspective, Leeuta described how these desks provide the perfect example of how manufacturers like NLC can take responsibility for their packaging waste.
“As the paper and packaging industry’s producer responsibility organisation, we advocate and promote manufacturers like NLC to be accountable for their waste material and reduce its impact on landfills. Innovative initiatives like this help to fulfill this mandate and support our vision of a clean and sustainable environment for all,” she said.
Also present was Maggie Bozic Infante, co-founder of Infinite Industries which, in addition to the desks, manufactures a growing range of products using recyclable materials. One of its significant achievements has been dispelling a long-held myth that liquid cartons are ‘unrecyclable’.
According to Infante, Infinite is now producing board through heat and compaction that can not only be used to make school desktops but also roofing sheets and beehives.
“The desks are a welcome addition to our classroom and a reminder that we all need to do our bit when it comes to recycling,” said school principal Herman Seanego, adding that it had been a great opportunity to see how recycling goes beyond glass and cans.
Global Recycling Day takes place annually on 18 March and 2023 saw the sixth celebration of the event.