Tuffy Brands has made sustainability a priority

Sustainability Through The Keyhole: Tuffy Brands

Showcasing great South African companies that are demonstrating leadership in sustainability
Tuffy Brands

As an organisation, Tuffy Brands has made sustainability a priority and, given the nature of their products, has always aimed to operate in a way that is mindful of both their environment and community. Now more than ever, Tuffy is continuing to build on the strong foundation laid by their founders and aims to implement various new initiatives which will have a meaningful impact both within and beyond the walls of the organisation.

Competitive Advantage

The Tuffy strategy incorporates targets around innovation and differentiation and this is directed at the achievement of competitive advantage where large channel customers (mostly retailers) are concerned. By focusing on sustainability performance in the value chain, Tuffy is able to provide retailers with products that are adding value to the environment and a corporate sustainability profile that is hard to ignore when procurement decisions are being made. Established in 1968, Tuffy Brands is a Cape Town based company which manufactures flexible plastic and paper products for the retail, industrial and advertising and marketing industries.

The company pioneered the launch of refuse bags on a roll in South Africa, and were the first organisation in South Africa to receive SGS accreditation for having fully recycled content in refuse bags.

Strategic Integration and Senior Support

At Tuffy, sustainability has been introduced at the top of the value chain in each sector of the business, ensuring that the principles have become an integral part of the way they do business. As a company who have always made the earth a priority, they have also developed codes of conduct which place great emphasis on key environmental issues, ensuring that environmental sustainability continues to be embedded in everything they do.

Additionally, occupational codes and guidelines (i.e. a Code of Conduct) exist in the organisation and sustainability strategy relating to quality and quality management is addressed through the ISO 9001 standard.

Product Responsibility and Innovation

Tuffy addresses product responsibility through each step of their product lifecycle and remain conscious of their impact throughout production. Given the nature of their products, strong emphasis is placed on responsible sourcing, reduction of waste and reusing of materials; their entire black bag product ranges being made from 100 percent recycled materials.

With regard to product standards, the company has internally developed benchmarks in place which are linked to the ISO 9000 standards and maintained across product ranges to ensure that products meet high models of quality. Tuffy also takes care to print clear warnings on packages regarding the health and safety of their consumers.


Tuffy Brands is registered with the Good Business Framework system in South Africa, a system which incorporates an online executive sustainability training course that is aimed at providing key members of the organisation with international best practice sustainability knowledge and implementation guidelines.

Efficiency and Responsibility

Tuffy carefully manages their resources and has made a significant effort to reduce emissions, energy, water and waste. They do not make use of any direct energy, but in-direct energy is comprehensively measured and managed throughout the organisation. Energy productivity statistics are widely available and strategically used, and various good practices and interventions exist within the production plant; including energy sub-metering, natural cooling/heat rejection, efficient pumps and fans and energy efficiency lighting.

The company makes use of a closed water system which is used for cooling in the production plant; a system which is carefully measured and managed. Data is recorded relating to total withdrawal of water by source; water discharged by volume and destination water recycling; water re-use and water productivity calculations. The company also has various water meters and management systems in place which are principally focused on the manufacturing environment.

Tuffy places great emphasis on waste management and recycling, particularly in the manufacturing process. Waste beneficiation practices are in place and waste skips are collected by recycling companies for further separation, ensuring that the only wet waste goes to landfills.

In the manufacturing plants, paper and plastic waste is separated prior to the skip, which is then fed back into the production process as recycled, post-production waste.

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