Remarks by Minister Barbara Creecy on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa at the commissioning of the ALPLA Group recycling plant
12 October 2022, Lanseria, Gauteng
Premier of Gauteng, Mr Panyaza Lesufi,
South Africa’s Ambassador to Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia, Amb Rapulane Molekane,
Ambassador-designate for Austria to South Africa, Amb Romana Koningsbrug,
CEO of ALPLA, Mr Philipp Lehner,
MD of ALPLA Southern Africa, Mr Mike Resnicek,
Leaders and members of trade unions,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to be here with you today for the commissioning of this recycling plant by the ALPLA group.
Today I have learnt that we use ALPLA’s products nearly every day, whether it is while taking a shower in the morning, pouring milk in our porridge, enjoying a cold beverage on a hot summer’s day, or doing our laundry.
I was also impressed during the tour to learn how the company is advancing sustainable production, including how it generates ten to fifteen percent of power from renewable sources.
ALPLA’s packaging products are used in a number of industries.
The opening of this plant is another milestone in the relationship between Austria and South Africa.
It reaffirms that our country remains a destination that enjoys the confidence of global investors.
The bilateral relations between Austria and South Africa date back as far as 1852 when Austria first opened a consulate in Cape Town.
This relationship has grown over time, and we are forever grateful to the Austrian anti-apartheid movement for its role and contribution towards the achievement of our democracy.
The economic bilateral relations and partnerships between our two countries remain strong, and we are grateful to Austria for supporting our nation’s industrialisation goals with investments such as this one.
I have been informed that ALPLA has invested around USD 100 million in South Africa between 2014 and 2019.
This state-of-the-art plant represents an additional investment of USD 50 million and will provide 350 job opportunities.
We share your optimism that the African continent will become a high growth region for the packaging industry.
Demand is being driven by increased markets for consumer products, burgeoning individual incomes, and expanding population of youthful consumers and growing domestic economies.
Packaging is a very competitive sector, and companies such as ALPLA have to remain agile, innovative and ready to meet the changes in global consumer demand.
As ALPLA is also aware, we have to address the shortage of skills in the industry.
Austria has a track record of supporting South Africa’s skills development drive, and I am pleased that ALPLA is continuing this tradition through its apprenticeship programme right here in Lanseria.
We are also grateful to ALPLA for the support it has given the Youth Employment Service programme, providing work experience opportunities for 50 young people, spending R6.4 million on skills development and an additional R500,000 on learnerships for contractors with disabilities.
The education and training of 19 students has also been supported by your company through bursaries.
I want to commend you for helping to grow a talent pool in the sector and we want to see how we can replicate this in other sectors as well.
Localisation and transformation are critical pillars of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan and what ALPLA has achieved in this area is also commendable.
ALPLA has achieved Level 1 BEE status and this signals to us that ALPLA is committed to South Africa’s transformation agenda.
I have been informed that 70 per cent of your top management and 69 percent of your middle management are black, of which 40 per cent are black women.
This is significant because we believe that our workplaces should be a reflection of the demographics of broader society.
ALPLA is committed to enterprise development.
I understand that your local procurement spend is approximately R820 million, contributing significantly to our objective of fostering inclusive economic growth.
Companies wishing to take advantage of Africa’s potential will have to stay close to African markets, be adaptable and ready to develop packaging solutions that are unique and better, rather than cheaper.
Our country remains one of the preferred investment destinations in Africa and is an important gateway for markets and other business opportunities throughout the continent.
The African Continental Free Trade Area will open opportunities for the development of export markets, national industrial bases and regional value chains.
The South African economy has the potential to achieve a higher growth trajectory through the unlocking of competitive advantages in key sectors of the economy, as well as implementation of institutional and governance reforms to support a sustained recovery in business and investor confidence.
The success of many domestic industries in export markets is indicative of our inherent global competitiveness.
ALPLA is in the business of manufacturing plastic containers, and when we think of plastic we normally associate this with damage to the environment.
ALPLA has recycling plants in Asia, South America and Europe and we are happy that this recycling technology might soon be brought to South Africa, through a further investment.
Green and circular economy investment is one of the ways through which South Africa can achieve economic growth that is sustainable, inclusive and transformative.
A circular economy for plastics has projected significant net economic and job creation benefits. We sincerely hope to make this investment a reality and our department stand ready to support you.
South Africa has the potential to realise the benefits in a circular economy for plastics, building on expertise in both the plastics production and recycling sectors.
Let me conclude by congratulating the management and staff of ALPLA for this achievement.
I want to wish your team all the best with this plant and with your future investment plans in South Africa.
I thank you.