Nampak ramps up aluminium cans in response to plastic backlash

Nampak is ramping up production of aluminium cans as Africa’s biggest producer of beverage packaging responds to consumers’ global retreat from plastic.

The Johannesburg-based company is also putting greater emphasis on cardboard cartons and developing a type of renewable plastic lid made from sugarcane, chief executive officer Andre de Ruyter said in a phone interview.

That’s due to a growing concern about the impact of plastic on the environment, particularly on items such as single-use straws.

"Consumer sentiment against plastic packaging that cannot be recycled is very clear," de Ruyter said. "Aluminium is a valuable metal and so people have incentive to recycle it."

Nampak and other container makers are able to boost aluminium-can production alongside expansion into fast-growing regions such as Africa, where demand for canned and bottled drinks is rising as people start to buy packaged goods for the first time.

Nampak is spending R100m on a new food-can line in Nigeria, while that country’s GZ Industries is opening a factory in South Africa.

Nampak shares declined 5.1% to R14.75 as of 15:40 in Johannesburg, after the company announced a 7% rise in full-year operating profit.

The firm resisted a resumption of dividends due to a long-standing issue transferring cash from Angola and Zimbabwe and an ongoing effort to sell its glass business.

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