In a move that is counter to most manufacturing and packaging processes around the world, rechargeable battery manufacturer Uniross has moved its packaging facility from China to South Africa.
For the past five years, Uniross has used various Chinese subcontractors and its facility in China to package its range of rechargeable batteries.
Uniross marketing manager Michael Rogers said the South African operation has invested millions of rands in packaging equipment which will replace all reliance on Chinese packaging facilities.
"As an environmentally responsible company, Uniross is concerned about environmental practices at all the production facilities we utilise. But, despite our best efforts, we cannot ensure that every external contractor adheres to the same environmental responsibility that we subscribe to," says Rogers.
"By bringing the facility in-house, we will be able to ensure that our products are packaged in an environmentally responsible manner," he adds.
"There are also environmental benefits in moving the plant. By not having to ship packaged products from China, we will be able to significantly reduce our carbon emissions.
"Because we supply a product that provides an environmentally-friendly alternative to throw-away batteries, we need to ensure that products, such as our Hybrio range, endorsed by the WWF, complies fully with strict environmental requirements.
"We will also reduce the volume of packaging used for transporting the manufactured products from China to South Africa, further reducing waste and our carbon footprint," Rogers says.
The local packaging facility will also better serve Uniross' existing and future private label clients.
"We will also be better insulated from exchange rate fluctuations, and increases in raw material and packaging costs, overall benefiting the end-user and providing more competitive pricing," says Rogers.
The plant consists of a 2 000-square metre manufacturing facility in Midrand, which includes a temperature controlled warehouse, state-of-the-art laboratory for battery testing, automated conveyor lines for mass production, quality control centre and the first ever South African battery recycling collection and sorting facility.
The new facility also provides high-speed digital video links to the Uniross R&D centre in Paris, a fuel cell test centre and an electrochemistry department.
"We foresee the creation the approximately 50 new positions, with the goal of creating a further 100 new jobs within the next three years as the facility expands," Rogers says.
Once the facility is established, the Uniross worldwide group will make use of the facility to as a gateway to the African continent.