Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  04 May 2010

VENTURES: Syncorp Grows At Blistering Pace


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WHEN things go badly a year can be a long time in the life of a company, especially so for a new start-up venture. But when business is swell, time seems to fly speedily.

This may be the case of the Syncorp Group, the Epping-based venture now emerging as the leading player in plastics recycling in South Africa.

A year ago CBN reported on the ambitious plans of Theo Willemse, Tommy Barbe and Victor Nash, who were spearheading Syncorp’s efforts. At that time we spelt out how Willemse and Barbe, both recent arrivals from the Netherlands, were introducing the latest in plastic recycling to gain the edge over traditional recyclers, whose methods are years behind in their methodology.

Having roped in Victor Nash from Alnet, Syncorp quickly became a name to be reckoned with as it ramped up its production of mainly polypropylene and high density polyethylene granules.

It set to work with an initial investment of R26 million, operating with 40 people from premises of 5 000 sq m in Epping, producing 535 tons of PP and HDPE granules a month.

The company moved forward with dazzling speed and today employs no less than 160 people (working 24/7) to supply on demand. But here is the point; Syncorp can sell double the amount it produces if only more raw waste were available.

MD Theo Willemse tells CBN Syncorp’s products are of the highest quality, with it having been awarded the sought after European standard REACH accreditation, an achievement granted only to a select few.

Because of the high quality its products command a much higher premium than those of other local recyclers and are still around a third cheaper than suppliers of virgin material, like Sasol, Safripol and BASF.

No wonder the company has recently won the business of major plastic products manufacturers where its products have replaced those of suppliers of virgin material.

We have stepped away from the traditional image of recycling. Not only do we guarantee the quality of our product, but also guarantee that we are able to supply in the required quantities,” Willemse says.

Granules are manufactured from top-class industrial waste and Syncorp provides technical data sheets along with its products. In addition to equipment like agglomerators, shredders and so on the company also has a state of the art dry-washing MAS plant allowing for the effortless management of recyclable plastic thanks to the process of dry, hot air separation.

Syncorp’s system is highly eco-friendly and uses almost no water. Multiple additives are allowed for and accurate high quality homogenous product is ensured.

All of this goes to establish a much cleaner carbon footprint, an aspect that is increasingly required, says Willemse.

But to come back to that ‘little’ problem of Syncorp, as mentioned earlier, of not having enough access to raw, recyclable waste material to fulfil the growing latent demand.

Willemse tells CBN Syncorp has bought a new Austrian built Erema extruder (“the Rolls Royce in recycling”, as he calls it), which, together with new down-stream equipment, comes in at a cost of close R20 million, which include all other equipment needed such as dosing units and chiller plants.

As it’s a plug-and-play machine, production will almost immediately be more than doubled to 1 300 tons.

Incoming waste, and its availability, has been a problem. Thanks to the new technology it will be greatly solved since heavily printed and metalized BOPP film can then also be recycled, as this is a waste problem in SA, Willemse says.

The new investment will help to expand Syncorp’s operations throughout South Africa (and later Africa), which should unfold over the next three years.

Meanwhile Syncorp has also struck a deal with Durban-based Re-ethical, a waste collecting and management company, to ship PP waste in bulk to the Cape Town operation from both Johannesburg and Durban.

So the stepping stones are steadily being built in a success story that seems to gain ever increasing momentum.

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