Plastic might be one of the most useful substances available to us, but its impact on the environment cannot be ignored. Flexotuff, a well-established manufacturer in South Africa, is becoming a leader in sustainable plastic packaging.
Government legislation encourages the use of recycled plastic wherever possible, and Flexotuff established an in-house recycling plant that includes 100% recycled plastics. The company’s Bilal Hassim is proud that they are the first factory in the country to manufacture, launch and deploy 100% biodegradable plastic bags, which it supplies to a number of large national brands. “We are constantly investigating sustainable packaging options,” he said.
Although it’s an admirable goal, it’s not a particularly easy one. Bilal highlighted that the industry is capital intensive and that most profits are ploughed back into the business to nurture growth. The business has been following this strategy for the past 15 years – but it still encountered challenges.
Flexotuff’s awareness of client’s changing needs is evident because of their introduction and exploration of products and processes with a lesser environmental footprint. “There is significant doubt over the viability of plastic, but at present, there is no substitute for this material,” Bilal points out. “That said, we are striving to make our product more sustainable; more cost effective and emitting fewer greenhouse gases.”
An objective of this magnitude requires ongoing review of operations, and a commitment to trying new and better ways of doing things. The company has been on a path of evolution for around six years
Bilal informs that although the brand was established in 2002, the family has been active in the packaging industry since the 1960s and started manufacturing plastics in 1977.
Today, Flexotuff produces a wide range of products, from plastic bags to aprons, gift and boutique bags, carrier bags and even refuse bags, with clients including the likes of major national brands.
Bilal says that the company’s family-owned status has aided the business’s growth path:
“The company has been in the family for three generations –this is no small feat in an industry that has grown extensively during our time.”
Bilal explains that the company was a key player in its field when it first commenced operations, but over time, more and more entities entered the fold.
“We keep returning to our competitive advantage, which is the fact that we are agile, flexible and able to respond to customer needs,”
At the same time, Flexotuff focuses on the long-standing customer relationships it has developed over time, bolstering these with an unswerving commitment to quality. “We’ve succeeded because we are highly conscious of price and quality. We are proactive and solutions oriented and respond quickly to market demand.”
His advice to other entrepreneurs? “I think that one of the key mistakes made by small businesses is thinking like a small business. You need to think big – you can act small, but when the opportunity comes, be ready to grab it. That’s the key to growth.”
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