There’s been a lot of progression within the aerosols industry of late, with recycling, sustainability, legal metrology and maintaining the highest standards of manufacturing excellence being some of the highlights.
Although South Africa has a well-established culture of recycling paper and plastic, consumers are still largely unaware that aerosol cans are also 100 per cent recyclable. According to the Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (AMA), more than 240 million aerosol cans are produced annually, which constitutes to a large amount of waste if aerosols are not being recycled.
Thankfully, this is not the case as the AMA and various industry leaders have been hard at work carrying out educational initiatives which now see close on 200 million aerosol cans being recycled each year. Yet 40 million cans are still unaccounted for, or more than likely going to landfill.
The AMA maintains some confusion still persists among consumers, as many people don’t fully understand how the aerosol recycling process works. In the new AMA DVD, which is set to be launched publically soon, the association takes viewers through the process to ensure consumers are adequately equipped with the necessary knowledge, like emptying a can completely before throwing it away.
No short measure
Legal metrology issues are continually being questioned by the AMA, as consumers, local manufacturers and contract fillers have for too long felt the burden of irregular and harmful business practices.
According to the association, the announcement by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) that two incoming shipments were held up late last year in Durban and in Cape Town respectively on account of short measure in filled aerosol cans was the result of sustained pressure by the AMA, on behalf of the industry and consumers, to level the playing fields.
The association then went on to have 10 imported products laboratory tested by a leading institute, and managed to prove the case. To present a solid case, an additional 10 local products were mystery shopped in the market, and conformed to the same test. The results were then presented to the NRCS, and later to SARS as proof that some imported products clearly violate legal metrology laws.
Over 300 000 cans were held up in the original cases. Further stops in December proved that up to 30 per cent of imports into South Africa are non-compliant in terms of legal metrology. More cases and shipment stops are anticipated this year – and the NRCS has committed further capital spend on laboratory equipment and staffing to attempt to put an end to this.
In the pharmaceutical industry aerosol dispensing systems have a wide range of applications varying from particularly accurate dosages used in the delivery of drugs to the respiratory tract. Other variants are used in drug delivery, for instance, to the muscular system for pain and swelling relief. However, due to difficulty of reaching target organs for drug delivery, the use of aerosols in pharmaceutical applications remains fairly limited.
In an interview with Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Review, Nardus Alberts, the CEO of Wrapsa, which is home to one of our country’s most sophisticated aerosol manufacturing lines, discusses some of the challenges and developments in this sector. ‘The stability of active product ingredients in aerosols is one of the main concerns in product development.
Compatibility with the propellants must be carefully taken into consideration in the phases of product design,’ he says. At Wrapsa, extensive stability tests must be performed particularly the following parameters:
- Compatibility between actives and propellants
- Finding the correct propellant system to ensure optimum particle size of drugs is dispensed
- Compatibility between the liner, valve stems, dip tube with the actives and propellant systems.
In South Africa, more and more manufacturers are phasing out CFC propellants, as they transition to CFC-free lung medicines using Hydrofluoro Alkanes propellants instead.
In terms of future prospects, Alberts says that the manufacturing of more sophisticated valves and actuators will ensure that the aerosol delivery system will remain the preferred method for respiratory tract treatment. ‘The application of drugs to the muscular system is an area where growth can be expected in years to come,’ he adds.
Henkel and Ball Corporation, located in the US, have collaborated to launch a new, lighter weight industrial aluminium aerosol can. Ball manufactures the new can using revolutionary metal technology, which implements recycled aluminium to create a metal alloy that exhibits increased strength and allows light weighting of the container without affecting package integrity.
After months of collaboration, Ball’s global metal technology experts and innovation teams developed a method that will allow the company to use either post-consumer recycled aluminium or aluminium recycled from its global beverage can operations to produce its new slugs. Currently, almost all extruded aluminium aerosol packaging is made from virgin aluminium slugs.