Since its inception 75 years ago, a primary challenge that paint industry watchdog South African Paint Manufacturing Association (Sapma) has faced, is enticing larger paint packaging companies to join as members, says Sapma executive director Deryck Spence.
He tells Engineering News that Sapma currently has 103 members but packaging companies are in the minority and that Sapma would like more packaging firms to join so that the association can influence them to adhere to responsible packaging regulations.
He notes that this problem can be solved by standardisation, while more packaging companies joining the association will ease the process of holding companies responsible that use inadequate packaging and labelling in contravention of Sapma’s code of ethics.
“Packaging is a major distribution channel for us – it is a major constituent of our product, particularly on the retail market, where we obviously would like to see well-designed packaging,” he states.
Another significant challenge facing Sapma is preventing the practice of coatings being sold in retail outlets in packaging that does not have safety features on it.
Further, some packaging is dangerous, as it has “no childproof locks or tops, but just ordinary flip tops. Plastic bottles containing lacquer thinners is just one example,” says Spence.
Benefits of Plastic
Spence notes that one of the most significant changes to the paint industry’s packaging throughout the years has been the shift from tin cans to plastic cans.
“There is currently an ongoing vacillation between the use of tin and plastic. In previous years, many companies preferred tin, as the printing of information is more detailed and attractive than on plastic. However, many companies tend to favour plastic, as tin dents easily and does not regain its original shape. Further, tin used to be cheaper than plastic,” he explains.
Spence notes that plastic is advantageous because its quality has improved in recent years, which, in turn, adds to the stackability of cans. “Plastics’ density has improved, which makes it possible for the cans to maintain their shape, particularly in warehousing. The density is designed to withstand three to four cans being stacked on top of each other without damaging the bottom one.”
Another benefit of a plastic can is that it can be reused after its life span as a paint-container.
The packaging industry is also expected to observe good practices in terms of preserving the environment.
Benefits of Membership
Sapma says packaging companies that are reluctant to join the association are not benefitting from the advantages of being a member. The association says it represents 90% of the paint industry, which means membership can expose a company to a significant number of customers and suppliers, particularly during hosted events.
“In future, we will strive to acquire a position where we will source preferential pricing for our members from raw material suppliers who are also members,” says Spence.
Through its training arm, the South African Paint Industry Training Institute the association is also involved in technology and skills transfer. Therefore, membership also provides exposure to the latest developments in technology and skills in the industry.