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07 Dec

PETCO Partners for the Future of Sustainable Plastic Packaging

Sustainable Plastic Packaging

For the past 12 years, PETCO has worked closely with the plastics industry, community members, municipalities, NGO’s and entrepreneurs to create more sustainable plastic packaging recycling system in South Africa.

Our efforts have led to a 657% increase in recycling over the period, collecting over 2.45 billion bottles in 2015, and growing our targets from 16% to 52% of post-consumer PET bottles recycled, helping to create income opportunities for an estimated 50 000 people.

While we are proud of what we have achieved thus far, we know that growing this further will be increasingly challenging. However, we believe that packaging is part of the solution in achieving sustainability goals; it is about reduced fuel consumption from lighter loads, and reduced food waste when plastic packaging is used.

This was the impetus behind our recent Recycling and Sustainable Brands workshop in Cape Town and Pretoria, fashioned on the original Sustainable Brands workshop that took place earlier in the year (

An event of this nature, that looks at the importance of plastic packaging recycling and the sustainability of brands, is quite novel and very significant, which is why PETCO chose to dedicate a workshop session to this complex topic. We believe that it is through engagements such as these that we will build a more sustainable future.

Keynote speaker Jonathan Cherry from Cherryflava kicked the discussions off with a look at the current global megatrends, outlining what he refers to as ‘the four P’s’ for sustainable brands – People, Planet, Purpose and Profit. As Cherry highlighted, no brand exists in isolation so there is an urgent need for organisations and brands to understand the interconnections between us all.

Download Jon’s keynote presentation here:

After the keynote address, we had four panellists each present their insights on achieving sustainable brands in South Africa.

Our first panellist, Kurt Ackermann, took the attendees through the key principles that would ensure sustainability sticks internally within organisations. He emphasised that organisations should be aware of what the various levels of maturity for integrating sustainability are. He added that organisations should rather embrace smaller steps while evolving, embracing lateral moves and investing in key strategic partnerships to reach a common objective.

Download Kurt’s presentation here:

PETCO Sustainable Plastic Packaging

Figure 1: What it takes to embed sustainability within organisations.

PETCO Sustainable Plastic Packaging

Figure 2: The various levels of maturity for integrating sustainability within an organisation.

The second panellist Kiril Dimitrov – a Packaging Innovation Manager – presented an industry perspective as he outlined the complex challenge businesses have in meaningfully addressing sustainability within their operations. Kiril concluded that the future belongs to sustainable brands as brands who fail to transform their business will not survive in a market made up of millenials who are demanding products that take cognisance of and embrace treading lightly on the environment and general sustainability principles.

Sustainable Plastic Packaging PETCO

Figure 3: Some sustainability metrics used by a few well-known brands.

Download Kiril’s presentation here:

Our third panellist Lloyd Mcfarlane, CEO of GSA Campbell, gave a quick guide on how the sustainability story is meant to spread, by equipping marketing teams to appreciate, apply, and amplify sustainability priorities within their work. He highlighted that sustainability must be aligned with authentic principles of corporate sustainability, where the strategies are integrated into stakeholder engagement activities of a business, which would then build into the credibility of a business.

Download Lloyd’s presentation here:

Sustainable Plastic Packaging PETCO

Figure 4: Why Sustainability Spreads or Doesn’t.

The fourth panellist Livio Tronchin, Creative Director at Derrick Communications Agency, proposed a different approach to advertising in the sustainability space by shifting from merely informational to desirable, and incorporating sustainability practices into effective, transparent campaigns that inspire true behaviour change. He suggested that, if brands speak their essential truth, the real value of the product will be clearer and more emphasised.

Download Livio’s presentation here:

An interactive Q&A session followed the panel discussions.


The truth is that consumers play a crucial part in the closed loop system of sustainable brands. Buying products with recycled content and continuing to reduce, reuse and recycle is integral to the end-of-life solution for any product.

To get involved in the discussion or to find out more about similar events, visit the PETCO website ( or follow PETCO on social media (Facebook: PETCO, the South African PET Plastic Recycling Company; Twitter, Instagram and YouTube: @1isPET).

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