Local moulded fibre packaging manu- facturer Huhtamaki South Africa’s Finnish parent company, Huhtamaki Oyj, is investing R20-million in the installation of a new Leotech pulp-moulding machine to enhance the range of products that the company can manufacture.
Leotech equipment is used to produce environment-friendly packaging using recycled paper for foodstuffs, including eggs and fruit.
The machines can process between 4 t and 12 t of recycled paper every 24 hours, depending on the type of machine.
Huhtamaki South Africa uses recycled paper as the raw material to manufacture moulded-fibre egg packaging, fruit trays and bottle dividers, Huhtamaki South Africa GM Wil Rigby tells Engineering News.
“In April 2012, we started producing cartons that can hold 18 eggs. This innovation has helped egg packers significantly, as it reduces bottlenecks and energy consumption during the egg-packing process in the 1.5 dozen configuration,” he explains.
Rigby notes that Huhtamaki South Africa’s staff complement comprises 170 employees from its factories in Springs, Gauteng, and in Atlantis, in the Western Cape, with about 85 workers at each facility.
Meanwhile, he notes, the company’s most significant challenge is the weakening rand, which has resulted in an increase in recycled-paper exports from South Africa.
“The increase in recycled-paper export volumes has created a shortage of material in the local market and has caused upward pressure on recycled-paper prices,” Rigby says, adding that the “runaway” energy prices have also negatively impacted on the company’s operations.
Moreover, he says that packaging requirements are becoming more stringent as the demand for food-safety accreditation increases.
“However, Huhtamaki South Africa has responded well to these increasing standards by consistently achieving full hazard analysis and critical control point accreditation at both its factories,” Rigby concludes.