“There is a growing trend for consumers and businesses to seek more environmentally friendly products and raw materials. We are producing more sustainable products to meet this growing green demand, all the while remaining conscious of satisfying procurement requirements,” says Mehran Zarrebini, CEO of PFE International.

He was explaining the group’s unwavering adoption of sustainable business practices which is bearing fruit even in an economic climate where some organisations see expenditure on “green” production as an unwelcome cost rather than an opportunity.

“We have never viewed investment in environment-friendly technology as a negative. For us it is an imperative and it is proving to be profitable,” he explained.

The diversified group is made up of a number of different companies with synergistic links to one another – Van Dyck Carpets, which has been operating in South Africa for 68 years, the tyre recycling Mathe Group, polypropylene staple fibre producer PFE Extrusion, Envirobuild, manufacturers of eco-friendly rubber flooring and Easigrass.

All of the group companies are geared to maximise opportunities created by the demand for sustainable products in their various industries.

Zarrebini said that PFE’s investment in a new tyre recycling facility for Mathe Group last year had heightened the group’s commitment to more sustainable manufacturing and resulted in their becoming the largest processor and recycler of tyres in South Africa. Their end-product, rubber crumb, is used in the manufacture of eco-friendly rubber matting and paving tiles by sister company Envirobuild as well as acoustic underlays for flooring.

The group plans to invest further in extending the use of rubber crumb in the manufacture of innovative new products.

“We expect the demand for recycled rubber paving products to increase as residential and business customers seek products that are environment-friendly and produced by companies with good corporate governance,” he said.

We are also seeing a growing preference for products that are manufactured locally and benefit local communities. PFE Extrusion, for example, employs more than 500 people in the economically challenged areas of Hammarsdale and Umlazi.”

Demand is steadily increasing for artificial grass from PFE’s Easigrass both for commercial spaces and landscaping as a result of last year’s drought. It is a low-maintenance product that does not need watering or require the use of harmful pesticides as does conventional grass.

Zarrebini said that investment in new technology was essential to remain competitive internationally. Equally important was incorporating resource efficiency and resource reduction into manufacturing processes as raw materials became scarcer and more costly.

“At PFE, we adopt an integrated approach to energy management, environmental sustainability and the minimisation of our greenhouse gas emissions which we expect will yield further reductions in carbon emissions, waste and water consumption into the future,” he said.