Chemical manufacturer South African Fine and Industrial Chemicals (Safic) marketing manager Estelle Viviers says the company has as its vision to continuously develop new technologies and formulations to ensure production of environmentally-acceptable chemicals.
Since 1995, Safic has been improv-ing its research and development (R&D) department with the purpose of developing new technology, and to comply with international stan-dards.
The company has developed a range of products, including hydrocarbon absorbent products, which are used to remediate polluted sites in cases such as oil and chemical spillage.
Safic has also set itself higher standards so as to remain competitive in the global market.
“We developed our environment-ally acceptable range, branded Earth Range, to European standards, which require that the raw materials used to produce our chemicals break down within 28 days after use,” Viviers says.
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has a guide that requires products to biodegrade in a specific time, but Safic has set itself much higher standards.
“This is to make sure we lead the way, as environmental protection has taken a prominent position in the public and private sectors, and we have to change the perception that associates pollution with chemicals,” Viviers says.
The company’s research and development department is working closely with Wits University, in Johannesburg, to verify the quality of its products.
As an ISO 14000, 9001/2000, and OHSAS 18001 certified company, Safic’s products are preferred by local and international clients that have to comply to higher standards.
“Because of legislation such as the Environmental Management Act and growing environmental aware-ness and responsibility in the South African industry, our clients are changing over to environmentally-acceptable products,” Viviers ex-plains.
She says Safic has a large market share of the mining industry.
This is because companies ex-porting have to use environmentally-acceptable chemicals because of their prominence internationally, Viviers explains.
Safic, which has been in existence for 22 years, has set up a partnership with a 30-year-old Cape Town distribution company, Integral Safety Group (ISG).
ISG specialises in protective cloth-ing and corporate business wear, so there are synergies between the two companies that enable them to align their strategies and services to afford customers a comprehensive package, Viviers states.
“Occupational safety and environ- mental protection are important aspects in industry, and our par-tnership with ISG seeks to achieve both,” she says.
The partnership, which is still functioning in the Western Cape only, started at the beginning of this year.
Safic employs about 109 people at its main centre in Alberton, Gauteng, and has representatives in all nine provinces.
It has also set up factories in Angola, Botswana and Ghana.
In addition, the company has established an empowerment com- pany called Safic Black Empower-ment Enterprises (Safic BEE), which gives opportunities to black entrepreneurs to set up their own sustainable small, medium and microenterprises (SMMEs).
The company also has a sectoral education and training authority (Seta) registered academy, train-ing workers on subjects such as environmental awareness and hand- ling of chemicals.