Bottlers axe plastic colorant

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) sets to embark on the follow up in implementation of the new initiative that water bottling companies have taken to withdraw the use of masterbatch (MB) on their plastic bottle. Stopping the use of MB altogether is said to save up to USD 100 million annually.

It is to be recalled that when a detailed study was conducted by the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Industry Development Institute, MB was identified to have a negative impact on the environment, health, economy and other related issues. Following the study, stakeholders in the water bottling industry as well as government bodies in one accord agreed to halt the use of MB – a plastic bottle colorant, as of October 11, 2022.

Following that decision is has become a common occurrence to now see non-colored bottles in the market.
Ashenafi Merid, General Manager at the Ethiopian Beverage Manufacturing Industries Association, expressed that bottlers following the unison agreement have suspended the use of colored bottles in their production, “If there are colored bottles in the market, it is because they were produced prior to the deadline. From here on end, non-colored packaging will dominate the market.”

He explained that the decision was taken during a workshop held early July following the recommendation by the Institute to suspend using MB.

Traditionally most of Ethiopian water bottlers have been using MB to colorize their plastic bottles to blue, which to some degree has its share of costs in foreign currency.

Ashenafi told Capital that at the workshop EPA has taken the initiative to control the implementation of the new practice.
“EPA early this week has informed us that it will commence its overlook on factories and bottlers with regards to implementation of the agreement into practice,” he added.

In a letter issued and sent on October 14 to the Ethiopian Plastic and Rubber Manufacturers Sectroal Association, the Food and Beverage Industry Research and Development Center ordered manufacturers to stop producing MB blended perform as per the decision passed a couple months ago.

According to Ashenafi, whilst speaking on the assessment carried out three years ago, he referenced that using MB has a cost of USD 30 million per annum, “Obviously this amount is much high at the current stage since the number of bottlers has increased.”
He elaborated that as per the latest study, bottlers are not using the MB and the used bottle shall be recycled as polyester fabric and yarn, which is an input for the textile industry.

“As per the study, the textile industry is allocated about USD 45 million to import polyester fabric and yarn for their production processes. So if we start producing non-colored bottles it can be transferred to other industries which in turn save the amount of foreign currency allocated to the textile industry. The new decision shall save USD 100 million directly and indirectly,” he added.
Ashenafi said that avoiding the use of MB has also significant contributions for bottlers since they save unnecessary production cost.

“It has a massive impact on forward and backward linkage,” he added.
Currently, there are 107 water bottlers in different corners of the country.


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