The AMA Approved Mark – an industry wide, recognised stamp of approval – was first launched in the 1980s as a proactive measure by the AMA. At the time, the association was way ahead of the South African government by implementing this voluntary code, which focused on the CFC-free movement and sought to ensure consumer safety where aerosol products are concerned.
Fast forward to 2016 and the AMA is taking the approved mark scheme to the next level. It has had the official logo trademarked and is making it more meaningful to industry, retail and consumers alike. Jaco Coetzee, chairperson of the AMA and head of specialised markets at Afrox, explains: ‘Having moved on from the CFC-free issue, the next logical step is to address quality standards.
This also incorporates industry’s commitment to safety and the environment, and certifies that AMA members are committed to Best Aerosol Manufacturing Practices.’
The AMA is here to guide its members, of which there are 61, on their journey towards compliance with the criteria set out in the approved mark scheme. ‘So far, 35 members have signed the AMA Approved pledge. We have seven months to get the remaining 26 members on board,’ says Coetzee.
Of those that have pledged their compliance, there are currently 35 members that are authorised certificate holders of the AMA Approved Mark. CTL Contracting (CTL) is one of them.
To attain certification and progress to the next phase, CTL completed the mandatory online self-assessment to ascertain its level of compliance.
Angelika Shachman, QC manager at CTL, discusses the process: ‘It was easy and completed via the AMA website. The self-assessment is based on the AMA Approved Mark criteria, which members of the association pledge to adhere to in order to obtain permission to use the mark on their product packaging and marketing material. The self-assessment questions help members check their adherence with legal and regulatory compliance and best practice. They are custom designed for the various types of companies or organisations operating within the aerosol industry, such as packaging or propellant suppliers, manufacturers, contract fillers, and distribution or warehousing etc. Ultimately, it’s crucial to answer the questions truthfully so the AMA can provide assistance to members to achieve full compliance.’
The self-assessment tool was developed by DQS South Africa. This global company, with offices in Johannesburg, handles all certification services concerning aspects of consumer safety and environment. It offers objective assessments according to recognised norms and technical or industry specific standards.
Positive impact all round
According to Nick Tselentis, executive director of the AMA, the association’s proactive approach to self-regulation within the industry has in the past prevented its over-regulation by government. ‘The
AMA always acts in the best interests of its members. We have learnt over the years that prevention is better than cure.’
This same approach applies to the AMA Approved Mark, which in essence is a monitoring programme for what is a specialist and highly technical segment of the FMCG market. Therefore, the AMA hopes that the industry-wide adoption of the mark will help government realise that the aerosol industry is a responsible one. Along with positive impact it is set to have at government level, the mark will be promoted extensively to ensure it is recognised by retailers and consumers as a quality stamp of approval. This was important to CTL as the company wanted to convey to its customers that it undertakes to comply with legal and regulatory standards, ultimately providing them with a safe, quality aerosol product for distribution throughout the supply chain. ‘The mark also shows that we’re making an effort to adhere to industry best practices where safety, health and environmental issues are concerned,’ adds Shachman.
Furthermore, the AMA Approved Mark has afforded CTL Contracting, which is an SME, a cost-effective means to conform to a meaningful and established industry standard.
Adding value where it counts
Ultimately the mark intends to give consumers and the trade much more confidence in their purchase of a South African-manufactured aerosol product. The AMA Approved Mark certificate of compliance will be issued bi-annually to members that conform. ‘Compliance with AMA Approved criteria will be maintained through a self-policing model, which is equivalent to the European e-mark,’ adds Coetzee. ‘The AMA takes its self-policing or monitoring system seriously and non-conformance will be dealt with in terms of the provisions of the AMA Articles of Association.’
However, it should be noted that the AMA’s motivation is not to instill fear or uncertainty among its members but rather to add value. Shachman can attest to this. She advises other aerosol fillers to become members of the association, if they aren’t already. ‘Once your membership is active, simply sign the pledge for the AMA Approved Mark. Next complete the self-assessment to ascertain your level of compliance.
Improvements in this regard should be implemented immediately as one works towards achieving full compliance. This level of participation provides an invaluable learning experience and contributes to the good standing and recognition of the South African aerosol industry,’ she concludes.