Based in KwaZulu-Natal, Teqal is a specialist producer of biodegradable injection moulded rigid plastic packaging for cosmetics and industrial products. In December, the company was awarded a R50mn financing facility by the IDC to expand its factory.
Globally plastic waste accounted for 6.3bn metric tons in 2015. This amount of waste is expected to double by 2050, according to Satista. The cosmetics industry is considered a major contributor producing an estimated 120bn units of packaging every year, most of which is not recyclable.
“The only way to change the impact of plastic on the environment is at product level, and a biodegradable solution will have a major impact on the environment,” says Sean Kirkham, Teqal’s sales and marketing director, who has been in the industry for over 20 years.
The company started a greenfield business four years ago in a mini factory in the Dube Trade House. It has a highly-skilled team and has invested R39mn in high-tech equipment and automation to develop Africa’s first biodegradable cosmetics jar and a full wraparound in-mould labelled jar.
Caring for the environment
Teqal is a globally competitive owner-managed business with highly-experienced people who care. Over and above quality, the company is focused on caring for the environment in its business and in the business of its clients. Not only is Teqal’s cosmetics jar completely biodegradable, it is 30% lighter than its closest competitor and uses 60% less energy to manufacture. All of which adds to reducing the carbon footprint of the jar.
There are a lot of challenges in recycling, including the fact that some plastic products can only be recycled once or twice, preventing them from being recycled any further.
“Our cosmetics packaging is not green washing. This is not about making people feel good. It is 100% decomposable and has no micro-plastics,” explains Kirkham.
The bio-based material used to produce the external components is Seedling-certified. This is a Swiss certification that verifies the compostability of a product, according to the European standard EN 13432. If the components end up in the ocean, landfill, or are placed in soil, they will fully biodegrade and will not leave any microplastics behind.
Major financial boost
Since being established, the company has expanded three times at the Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Trade House and currently takes up 750m2 of space. Now with a major five-year contract in hand and financing to build its own factory, Teqal is looking to move to TradeZone 1 within the Dube TradePort. A new 2 500m2 factory with capacity to double in size is also in the planning.
The business benefits of being located at the Dube TradePort SEZ made it an obvious choice for Teqal. Topping the list is security, while the proximity to the King Shaka International Airport is also highly rated. Kirkham has had more customers visit the factory in four years than in the entire 20 years at his previous factory, which was located elsewhere in Durban.
“It’s easy for people en route to another appointment to pop in for coffee and have a look at what we are doing. There’s no better marketing than showing customers our factory and explaining our product. It’s invaluable.”
A sustainable solution
The mini-factory environment in the Trade House is also ideal for start-ups. The lease terms are flexible enough to give long-term lease security as well as enable Teqal to easily move to bigger premises within the same zone. The infrastructure and ease of access for trucks are also noteworthy.
Dube TradePort Corporation is an environmentally arduous place for businesses with strict requirements and regular audits. But for a company that uses solar power, energy-efficient servo-driven equipment and solven- free ink, it is easy to comply.
“This is what we are about. The audits provide us with a benchmark and give us a helping hand in the right direction,” Kirkham concludes.
Teqal’s strengths include the strategic registration of functional and technical designs and patents, along with in-house high-end packaging, tool-making and design experience – all of which are vital in generating value in the personal care and cosmetics industry.
<Box> Teqal – www.teqal.co.za