Making bed bases from old car bumpers turned out to be anything but a rubbish idea for Graham Coleman and Gianni Nosenzo of Cycliq in Wadeville – two veterans of the bedding industry whose innovative Space Base Bed Base was awarded the SAPRO Trophy for the Best Recycled Product of the Year at the organisation’s 6th biennial awards ceremony held at Emperors Palace in Ekurhuleni recently.
This year’s lavish dinner was hosted in partnership with platinum sponsors Erema Plastic Recycling Systems and Polyco – the polyolefin Product Recovery Organisation. According to Rudi Johannes, Chairman of the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation, products entered for this year’s competition showcased a tremendous amount of ingenuity and creativity despite the fact that plastics recycling in South Africa is under threat.
“The past few years have not been easy for our recyclers. Virgin polymer prices are very low and operating costs have increased as a result of higher fuel prices, increased energy and labour costs. To add insult to injury, we have seen traditional markets for recyclate reach saturation. The public expects recyclers to take any plastic product at no charge and turn it into a perfect raw material that will solve the world’s energy crisis and change litter habits,” Johannes said.
This year’s competition has five distinct product categories, namely:
- Products made from 100% post-consumer recyclate
- Products containing a percentage post-consumer recyclate
- Products made from mixed materials,
- Novel and Artistic products made from discarded plastic products, and
- For the first time, also a category for concept ideas for new end markets.
Entries were received from around South Africa, but eventually the judges selected the twenty-three products as finalists that best met their criteria, i.e. the life expectancy of the product, the sustainability or long-term demand and market acceptance of product, the measures taken to ensure product consistency and customer satisfaction despite recycled material content, tonnage or potential tonnage of plastics that were converted and therefore diverted from landfill, technical achievements in manufacturing to overcome recycled material challenges, replacement of alternative materials, originality of design and the care and pride with which the product was manufactured.
“The Space Base is a true example of a new product designed and marketed using the cost benefits of recycled material while maintaining the product’s credibility‚” Johannes says, adding that the judges were impressed by the product’s consumer acceptance and the extent to which it reduces the amount of plastic ending up in landfills.
Weighing just 19kg‚ the double base folds up into a quarter of the space of a traditional bed base‚ making it far easier to move, store, re-assembled or export to countries such as Australia and the Dominican Republic where the market is burgeoning. Locally, their plant produces about 3 500 of the black bases per month‚ but has the capacity to double that.
“After much trial and error and having to overcome numerous obstacles Cycliq has managed to totally reinvent the household staple that was traditionally heavy‚ cumbersome and usually made out of wood by using recycled polypropylene in the form of end-of-life automotive components – mainly car bumpers,” he disclosed.
Other products that received awards in their respective product categories were:
- Street Sleeper (Gold Award) in the category Novel and Artistic Products for their waterproof sleeping bags for the homeless made from recycled PVC banners
- Greenlite Concrete (Gold Award) for their Jumbo Building Blocks made from recycled expanded polystyrene in the category Products made from Mixed Materials
- Usabco (Gold Award) for their Addis 10-liter watering can in the category Products made from a percentage post-consumer recyclate
- Wreaths International (Silver Award) for their range of funeral wreaths and baskets made from recycled LDPE mono-filament
- Infinite Industries (Silver Award) for their Cable Trench Covers made from recycled plastic
- Ridgedrop (Silver Award) for their solid Plastic Droppers made from a 100% post-consumer HDPE recyclate blend for game-fencing
- Tuffy for their Refuse Bags (Bronze Award) which ensures that more than 4 800 tons of recycled milk bottles, carrier bags and printed films are kept from landfill every year and for their Checkers carrier bags (Silver Award) made from 100 % recycled plastic
- MyWaste Mouldings (Bronze Award) for their innovative waste bin separator made from traditionally difficult-to-recycle materials that assists every household to separate at source.
- Infinite Industries won the People’s Choice Award for their manholes and covers
“We see more and more materials are becoming available for recycling as collectors and waste pickers recognize recycling as a major income generator. However, for the first time in the four decades of successful recycling in South Africa, we are experiencing a bottle neck on the demand side. The Best Recycled Product of the Year Awards plays an important role in educating and encouraging brand owners and product designer to include recycled content in everyday plastics products and components in order to generate ongoing demand for recyclate and to reduce the pressure on non-renewable resources. It was hugely encouraging to see how plastics recyclers, converters, product designers and innovators managed to come up with new and innovative solutions that use post-consumer, recycled plastic to provide a solution to everyday problems and we look forward to seeing even more entries in our next competition in 2019,” Johannes concluded.
For more information, visit the SAPRO website on www.plasticrecyclingsa.co.za
Credits: With editorial inputs from Wendy Knowler @Wendyknowler (Times Media)