Sasol goes for a clean sweep

Sasol goes for a clean sweep

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 to ensure that these materials don’t end up in the marine environment.

Douw Steyn, sustainability director at Plastics SA, says spilt 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. These substances can be mistaken for food by birds or marine animals, and could harm them if ingested,” he explains.

As part of its plan of action to implement OCS in South Africa, Plastics SA (the licensee and project coordinator for OCS in the country’s plastics industry) has developed a detailed toolkit and a manual that contains guidelines to help plastics industry operations managers to 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 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 to establish demonstrable environmentally responsible processes:

  1. Improving worksite set-up to prevent and address spills;
  2. Creating and publishing internal procedures to achieve zero operations plastic material loss;
  3. Providing employee training and accountability for spill prevention, containment, clean-up and disposal;
  4. Auditing performance regularly;
  5. Complying with all applicable state and local regulations governing operations plastics waste containment and management; and
  6. Encouraging value chain partners (contractors, transporters and distributors) 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 converted into the final product, says Bernard Klingenberg, executive vice-president of Sasol. “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.”

Leading up to the signing of the OCS Pledge Sasol undertook various activities towards becoming an OCS member. These include education and awareness sessions, production facility audits, and self-assessment questionnaires along Sasol’s supply chain.

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