OVERCOMING CHALLENGES WITH COLLABORATION AND INNOVATION
THE SPEAKERS AT THE 2018 INNOVATION FORUM
Front (FLTR): Hencharl Strauss, Kirtida Bhana, Jacques van Eck, Longi Kalombo, Oscar Baruffa
Back (FLTR): Wayne Wiid, Mandy Naudé, Paul Jordaan, Vincent Ojijo, Manfred Scriba and Rudi Johannes
The challenges and opportunities within the South African plastics industry topped the agenda at Plastics|SA’s third annual Innovation Forum that took place in Midrand on 11 July 2018.
This year’s event was organised by Plastics|SA, in partnership with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), with the aim of encouraging innovation in the plastics industry and outlining the benefits of using new technologies.
Explaining the focus of this year’s event, Plastics|SA’s Training Executive, Kirtida Bhana said: “We hoped to encourage collaboration between industries in the plastics sector and research entities such as CSIR in order to find new and innovative solutions to the challenges that are currently being faced. To this end, the speakers who were invited to the 2018 Innovation Forum included experts in research and development from the CSIR as well as industry representatives. They shared their expertise and capabilities regarding groundbreaking research that is currently taking place using plastics, and leaders in the plastics industry, in turn, used the opportunity to share insights into some of the innovation and developments taking place within their specific areas”.
Enhancing plastic material capabilities
According to Dr Vincent Ojijo, Senior Researcher and Facility Manager at the DST-CSIR Nanomaterials Industrial Development Facility (NIDF) and the first speaker on the day, the CSIR is getting more involved in recyclate.Innovation two“The CSIR’s seeks to enhance the plastics industry’s competitiveness via the NIDF, whose value proposition to the plastics industry includes access to research and development and testing capabilities, scalability that can speak to the industry for market trials, as well as material characterisation. This offering stretches from the manufacturing of additives to polymer compounding to plastic product manufacturing,” Dr Ojijo said, expanding on the CSIR’s ambitions to contribute to improving the plastics industry’s competitiveness through the beneficiation of locally sourced polypropylene (PP).The CSIR is able to compound 10-20 kg/h of PP at its facility where it also does modifications and grafting to produce a material that is more rigid and tougher, called Polyzimo. Patent application for Polyzimo has been made in four countries, including, China, India, South Africa and USA.“We want to partner with industry members to commercialise this material which allows for beneficiation of the homo-PP to expand its applications,” Dr Ojijo said.
3D printing using recycled plastic
Dr Hencharl Strauss, Research Group Leader at the CSIR’s National Laser Centre, kept the audience interested in his talk about the latest polymer 3D printing technologies that are currently being developed at the CSIR. Strauss explained the benefits and capabilities of 3D printing and how this technology can assist the plastics industry through material development, system development and testing.“The lasers developed by the CSIR have a wide range of application in the plastic industry, including welding, 3D printing of parts for military and healthcare sectors from a wide range of polymers, and additive manufacturing of injection moulds,” Dr Strauss elaborated.
Developing bio-based and bio-compostable polymers
In another interesting development, the CSIR is currently also investigating the value-added use of agricultural biomass residues, from for instance the sugarcane and wood industries, for the development of sustainable bio-based polymers and chemicals. Dr Manfred Scriba, Programme Manager at the DST-CSIR National Centre for Nano-Structured Materials, invited the recycling industry and brand owners to further interaction towards finding solutions, as bio-degradable materials are understandably a sensitive topic in this industry.
Keeping food fresher for longer with new generation plastic packaging
Lonji Kalombo, Principal Chemical Engineer in Materials Science and Manufacturing, discussed the CSIR’s new and patented technology to include active ingredients such as essential oil to keep produce fresh for as long as possible. This new generation, active packaging is made from plastic that is fully recyclable, but also safe to use, environmentally friendly, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and contains antioxidant agents in order to keep fruit, meat and flowers free of the condensation that commonly causes food to spoil.
Facing the challenges in the plastics industry with innovative solutions
Various aspects of the local plastics industry were explained and highlighted by presentations that were delivered by Wayne Wiid of the Association of Rotational Moulders of Southern Africa (ARMSA), Rudi Johannes, representing the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO), Jacques van Eck of AVESCO (Pty) Ltd, representing the Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (SAPPMA), Oscar Baruffa (PETCO), Mandy Naudé (POLYCO) and Paul Jordaan (SAVA and the Polystyrene Association of SA).
innovation threeThese speakers highlighted challenges that they were facing, such as pressure from global imports, plastic packaging that was not recyclable or designed with recycling in mind, improving the recovery of waste and ensuring access to good quality, uncontaminated materials for recycling. Despite these obstacles, however, it was clear that the plastics industry is committed to succeeding, growing new markets and ensuring that it remains globally competitive through adhering to international standards of quality.
Concluding the day’s presentations, Dr Scriba encouraged the plastics industry to access the CSIR’s capabilities and resources in order to tackle the industrial challenges they were facing.“At CSIR, we have many groups that are involved with plastics and have capabilities across the spectrum, ranging from polymer formulation and additives, to testing facilities, bio-plastics development and encapsulation. We are also investing in the research and development of fibres and composites, additive manufacturing materials and techniques, policy, strategy, governance on waste and recycling development and enterprise development, including in recycling,” he said.“Albert Einstein rightly said that developing a creative solution to a problem does not necessarily mean that you should contribute something different from what’s been done before. Instead, it means to build and expand the work created by others that have gone before.Today’s presentations made it clear that continued collaboration and innovation is critical for the continued success and growth of the plastics manufacturing and recycling industries. Meeting together during workshops such as these allows us to raise new questions and consider new possibilities… to regard old problems and challenges from a new angle with creative imagination and innovation!” Kirtida reiterated.