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Packaging progress

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World Cement,

Sigrid Eder-Ince, Starlinger, describes the economical and ecological advantages of woven polypropylene cement sacks and discusses the shift towards this type of packaging in Côte d’Ivoire.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the economy of the West-African states, investments in the cement sector continue. Côte d’Ivoire’s economic growth rate has been among the highest in the world in the past years, with GDP growth reaching 7% in 2018 and 6.5% in 2019. The government’s focus on housing and infrastructure construction during the past decade contributed significantly to the strong development of the cement sector, which is currently producing a surplus that by far exceeds the current consumption of roughly 5 billion tpy. Still, industry players such as Dangote and Sinivoire are expanding production and have announced new plant construction projects.

In line with this development, suppliers to the cement industry are scaling up production. To keep up with increasing demand for woven polypropylene cement sacks, plastic packaging producer Plastica Sarl. installed its second woven PP sack conversion line. Plastica produces block bottom valve sacks made of woven polypropylene (PP), an alternative to the still dominant paper cement sacks. These sacks, marketed under the brand name AD*STAR, currently account for a market share of 25% in Côte d’Ivoire. They are economical, production is less resource intensive, and they offer protection especially for moisture-sensitive bulk goods such as cement.

“Looking at the GDP growth of Ivory Coast in the past years and the government’s big development projects, the country was clearly having a boom in the infrastructure sector, which resulted in a significant growth of the cement industry”, says Abbas Baddredine, General Manager of Plastica Sarl. Based in Abidjan, Plastica was founded in 1999 and produces woven PP sacks for various applications as well as PE films and sacks and injection moulded household and garden products. Besides supplying sacks to cement producers, the company caters to the cotton, agro-alimentary and agro-industrial sector and wholesalers.

Plastica decided to start the production of AD*STAR sacks in 2018, after noticing a trend shift from traditional paper sacks to PP sacks in other parts of Africa and around the world. As one of the biggest plastic processors in the region, Plastica decided to take the initiative in Côte d’Ivoire and its neighbouring countries. The company met with almost all major cement manufacturers and discussed the benefits of the sacks. Although still relatively new in the field of PP raffia sack production, Plastica took the decision to install its first woven block bottom sack production line in 2018 and became the first supplier of AD*STAR cement sacks to Ivorian cement manufacturers.

Plastica supported its customers in the transition period from paper to woven PP sacks and helped provide solutions for any emerging problems. The changeover to the new sacks offered financial benefits to customers, but also reduced typical problems observed during cement transportation and storage, such as sack rupture or premature hardening of the cement due to moisture. The company supplies AD*STAR sacks to national cement producers such as Cimivoire and Ivory Diamond Cement. Around 25% of AD*STAR sacks produced in Côte d’Ivoire are exported to neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, where the companies Cimfaso and Cimasso use them.

Due to rising demand, Plastica decided to expand production capacities and installed the second Starlinger conversion line for AD*STAR sacks in December 2021. It has a production output of up to 120 block bottom sacks per minute, increasing the company’s production capacity to a total of 80 million AD*STAR sacks per year. Plans are being made to install a third line this year.

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