Long time plastic manufacturing company, Plastic Packaging, appears not pleased with the coming on board of another rival company, Namibia Plastics, saying that the market is too small for several players to congest.
The N$95 million Brakewater based plant is envisaged to be completed this year and its construction launch was given a blessing by Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Tjekero Tweya.
The plant’s major thrust is said to be that of playing the role of closing the gap on an estimated 50% of plastic currently imported from outside the country, yet Plastic Packaging managing director, Jaco Venter is unsettled.
It also estimated that the investment will bring 200 direct and indirect job opportunities during and after construction while Namibia Plastics has enjoyed the involvement of the Development bank of Namibia, Namibia Breweries Limited.
“What bugs me is that there is a perception that government supports that. We have been in business here for 36 years and there comes a new comer and we get this perception which we do not understand.”
However, given that Namibia is an open market, Venter says the only way out is to face the competition head-on.
“Am not going to say it’s a negative or a positive to the country but am saying it’s a limited market and we need to think really carefully about what we do and what will be conducive in the end so I think let me stick to just stating that. The market is smaller than people think.”
“Investments come and go, we have seen some investments in the past so it’s not necessarily going to be a good thing. Competition is normally a good thing so I will stick to saying that and see what happens,” he says.
However, Namibia Plastics co-founder and CEO, Johan Struwig is convinced the ultimate guaranteed winner when giants compete to deliver a product is the consumer.
“I think at the moment in Namibia we are still using plastic. If obviously we get to a state where we don’t use plastic, then we can substitute with a better product. We should look into it. We could look into using newspapers, and start using those if that is the way the market works,” he said.
Yet for anti-plastic campaigner, Elize Shakalela who is on record locking horns with Plastic Packaging, the fact that another player has been allowed by government to add to the manufacture of anti-environment products is rather shocking.
“I don’t see that being any good news because we already have a problem with the plastic that we already have in our environment manufactured by Plastic Packaging. Talking about the cleanliness of the environment, the 25th of May is the president’s cleaning day for Namibia, I can assure you that most of the things that will be cleaned up is plastic,” she said.
She has issues with whether Namibia Plastics will commit to bio-degradable plastic or not: “I would want to know have they considered the impact of plastic already? What is it that they wish to do, are they going to manufacture what Plastic Packaging does? Apparently they collect plastics in the environment and they recycle them, are they going to do that?”
“And if they are going to do that we still need to manage those plastics in our environment. I have been in conversation with the minister of environment last year, they think that it is rather good to have a levy. How are they going to deal with that levy system? I am shocked!” she said.
She is also irked by the fact that both companies are finding initial interest in plastic rather than setting up canvass bag manufacturing plants.
Meanwhile, Shakalela in connection with the Namibia Chamber of Environment will be giving away canvass bags while Plastic Packaging also will be taking part.