Mpact Polymers has opened a new bottle-to-bottle facility to produce recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) in Wadeville, South Africa.

Derived from crude oil, rPET is a recycled raw material used for manufacturing new PET bottles from previously used containers.

Built with an investment of R350m ($23.2m), the new facility complies with European Union (EU) Food Safety Authority specifications.

"We have spent a lot of time and effort researching the PET recycling industry and developing a PET recycling business that would be sustainable."

The facility is said to be the first of its kind in Africa to meet The Coca-Cola Company’s full certification for PET bottles.

It has been supported by South Africa’s departments of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Trade and Industry (DTI) and Economic Development (EDD).

The plant is expected to create around 1,000 jobs and help reduce the carbon footprint of the food and beverage industry.

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Mpact Polymers aims to to produce 21,000t of rPET from 29,000t of PET bottles that have been diverted from landfills each year.

An estimated 186,000m³ of landfill space will be saved, while CO² emissions will be reduced by around 53,000t annually.

South Africa is currently witnessing a rise in recycling of plastic PET bottles.

According to industry body PETCO, post-consumer PET collection and recycling increased from 16% in 2004 to 52% in 2015, which equates to 9,840t to 73,710t respectively.

PETCO aims to collect and recycle 70% of plastic PET bottles by 2022.

Currently, 68% of all PET material is processed in bottles, which are mainly used by the beverage industry.

Mpact Polymers group CEO Bruce Strong said: "Today is a reflection of partnerships that work in both the public and private sectors.

"Together with our industry partners, Coca-Cola South Africa, ABI and PETCO, we have spent a lot of time and effort researching the PET recycling industry and developing a PET recycling business that would be sustainable.

"Mpact Polymers is backed by the required skills, experience, and infrastructure, to take advantage of the prospects in the collection and recycling of PET bottles in South Africa."