SOUTH AFRICA – Austrian plastic packaging and recycling firm ALPLA Group, has merged its five previous facilities in South Africa under one roof, at the newly opened production site in Lanseria, near Johannesburg, established at a cost of US$50m.

The new premise, termed as the company’s new sub-Saharan Africa headquarters, features 35,000m² of covered production, administration, and storage space.

It also has a further 12,500m² of space for future expansion, as well as 30,000m² of roof area equipped with solar panels, one of the largest solar installations on a privately owned manufacturing building in South Africa.

According to the packaging specialist, the location merges technologies, processes, and materials previously present at the Harrismith, Denver, Isando, Kempton Park, and Samrand plants.

The departments, employees, and machines were relocated step-by-step and the site currently has around 350 employees, with this number expected to grow in the future.

Opened after two years since construction work began, the new plant will manufacture bottles, closures, and special packaging for various markets, including food, personal and home care, chemical, cleaning agents, and pharmaceuticals, producing around 3.5 billion pieces per year.

ALPLA uses six different technologies, including injection and compression molding, injection stretch blow molding, and extrusion blow molding.

In addition to international corporations, the packaging specialist also supplies smaller local companies with plastic packaging solutions.

“All of sub-Saharan Africa is on the upswing [and] the markets have enormous potential. Our investment in South Africa is a clear commitment to the continent.

“In this way, we are increasing our competitiveness and guaranteeing the long-term regional supply of safe, affordable, and sustainable packaging solutions,” said ALPLA CEO Philipp Lehner.

With the new plant in Lanseria, ALPLA is also promoting its own training of specialists and has established a dual education and apprenticeship program.

This dual system of practical and theoretical training, based on the Austrian model, is already in operation at the ALPLA locations in Germany, Mexico, India, Poland, and China.

From 2023, the first 12 South African apprentices are to begin their training in the plastics technology and machining technology trades in the Future Corner training center in Lanseria.

Speaking at the launch, South African Environment Minister Barbara Creecy lauded the company for advancing sustainable production, including generating 10% to 15% of its power requirements from renewable sources.

“The opening of this plant is another milestone in the relationship between Austria and South Africa. It reaffirms that our country remains a destination that enjoys the confidence of global investors.

“The bilateral relations between Austria and South Africa date back as far as 1852 when Austria first opened a consulate in Cape Town. This relationship has grown over time, and we are forever grateful to the Austrian anti-apartheid movement for its role and contribution towards the achievement of our democracy,” Creecy acclaimed.

She expressed her thanks to Austria for supporting South Africa’s industrialization goals with investments such as this one, with the new plant representing an investment of US$ 50 million by ALPLA.

Creecy also mentioned that ALPLA achieving a Level 1 black economic empowerment status signals that it is committed to South Africa’s transformation agenda.

“I have been informed that 70% of your top management and 69% of your middle management are black, of which 40% are black women. This is significant because we believe that our workplaces should be a reflection of the demographics of broader society,” she emphasized.

Creecy also commended the company’s local procurement spend of about R820 million (US$44.2m).

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