Sasol has become the first raw material supplier to the South African plastics industry to become a signatory of Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) – an international stewardship programme designed to prevent resin pellet, flake, and powder loss and help keep this material out of the marine environment. Sasol is committed to providing chemicals and energy in a responsible way and respecting the environment by continually improving performance to minimise and avoid adverse impacts.
Plastics|SA is the licensee and project coordinator for OCS in South Africa’s plastics industry. As a signatory of the ‘Joint declaration for solutions to the problem of marine litter’ which took place during the 5th International Conference on Marine Debris, held in Honolulu in 2011, it joined the international plastics community’s commitment to address the issue of plastics in the marine environment.
Douw Steyn, Sustainability Director at Plastics|SA says spilled pellets, flakes and powder can make their way into local waterways and ultimately estuaries and the ocean. “This isn’t just an eyesore and a litter issue. Pellets, flakes and powder can be mistaken for food by birds or marine animals, and could harm them if ingested,” he explains.
As part of their plan of action to implement OCS in South Africa, Plastics|SA has developed a detailed toolkit and a manual that contains guidelines to help plastics industry operations managers reduce the accidental loss of pellets, flakes and powder from the manufacturing facility into the environment. To date, more than nine local companies, as well as the PRO’s (Producer Responsibility Organisations) such as PETCO, Polyco, the Southern African Vinyls Association and Polystyrene Association of SA have taken the OCS pledge on behalf of their members and agreed to the following six commitments in order to establish / demonstrable environmentally responsible processes:
- Improving worksite set-up to prevent and address spills;
- Creating and publishing internal procedures to achieve zero operations plastic material loss;
- Providing employee training and accountability for spill prevention, containment, clean-up and disposal;
- Auditing performance regularly;
- Complying with all applicable state and local regulations governing operations plastics waste containment and management;
- Encouraging value chain partners (contractors, transporters, distributors, etc.) to pursue the same goals.
Sasol as a responsible polymer producer aims to join other companies along the plastics value chain in ensuring that polymer pellets are manufactured, transported and stored responsibly until it is converted into the final product, says Bernard Klingenberg, Sasol Executive Vice President: Operations. “Through OCS Sasol will further minimise our environmental footprint by ensuring that our polymer is managed responsibly throughout the manufacturing life cycle stages to prevent any release into the environment.”
“We have conducted internal assessments at our South African production sites and implemented improvements which include reinforcing good housekeeping practices, employee awareness, and implementation of screens on drains. In addition, Sasol is in the process of engaging with supply chain partners to assist them where necessary in adopting these important practices”, says Klingenberg.
Leading up to the signing of the OCS Pledge Sasol undertook various activities towards becoming an OS member which include education and awareness sessions, production facility audits, and conducted self-assessments questionnaires along Sasol’s supply chain.
Plastics | SA is highly appreciative of these results and the commitment shown by Sasol to OCS to prevent resin pellet, flake, and powder loss and help keep this material out of the marine environment and welcomes Sasol as the first raw material supplier as a signatory of OCS in South Africa.
Read more about other environmental care initiatives Sasol is involved in here.