Are your green products really green?

By John Coetzee, CEO of Managed Care Economical Solutions (MCES)


The cleaning product you’ve just purchased is ‘green’, at least, that’s what the manufacturer claims. The truth is, however, that if you were to scrutinise the ingredients, you would probably find it’s not green at all. In fact, it’s far from it.


Companies worldwide have jumped on the ‘green’ bandwagon and through marketing have aligned their products with the green sphere, even though their products do not actually live up to the promise of being green. So what makes a product ‘green’? First, one needs to understand the real definition of what ‘green’ is.


Every product produced in the world today leaves a mark on the environment. This is known as its ‘ecological footprint’. A product’s ecological footprint starts with its design and continues through to its disposal and is such measured as being harmful or eco-friendly. ‘Green’ is the philosophy and lifestyle of conducting normal business operations, while using products and processes that don’t harm the environment or our planet.  


While green operations were once a way of promoting one’s business, today being green has become a way of life for many businesses. Green, you could say, is the new black. A number of businesses have adopted green policies, from recycling office paper, to switching off appliances when not in use, to using green cleaning products. This has come about for several reasons. Among the top reasons are the need to conserve energy and become energy independent and the advance in technology, which makes being environmentally conscientious not only a good business philosophy, but a cost effective solution as well. 


While more and more businesses have cottoned on to the benefits of going green, so too are more companies offering green solutions and products. Green cleaning solutions are particularly popular. Companies know that there are numerous benefits associated with green cleaning products. Not only do they improve indoor air quality, in turn improving employee productivity and satisfaction, but they also reduced negative environmental impact, save company owners money, optimise life-cycle performance of building materials and contribute to the health and well-being of the community.


However, the problem is that a number of commercial cleaning suppliers claim to be something they’re not. They’re committing, what is termed, the Seven Sins of Green Washing; listing ingredients that are ‘eco-friendly’, but don’t disclose those that are hazardous (sin of the hidden trade-off), they claim to be ‘certified organic’ but hold no verifiable certification (sin of no proof), they claim to be 100% natural when many naturally-occurring substances are hazardous –such as arsenic and formaldehyde (sin of vagueness), they claim to be CFC-free, even though CFCs were banned 20 years ago (sin of irrelevance) they claim to be certified by an internationally recognised environmental standard (sin of fibbing) and through wither words or images they give the impression of third-party endorsement where no such endorsement actually exists – fake labels, fake graphs, fake comparisons and fake tests (sin of worshiping false labels). 


A classic example might be a chemical company that runs an advertising campaign touting a ‘green’ technology they’re working on, but that ‘green’ technology represents only a sliver of the company’s otherwise not-so-green business, or may be marketed on the heels of an oil spill or plant explosion. Another example is that of an hotel chain that calls itself ‘green’ because it allows guests to choose to sleep on the same sheets and reuse towels, but actually does very little to save water and energy where it counts. Or a bank that’s suddenly ‘green’ because you can conduct your finances online, or a grocery store that’s ‘green’ because they’ll take back your plastic grocery bags, and so on. 


With so many companies selling so many sins, it’s difficult to separate the truth from the lies. No one specific board that monitors products claiming to be green exists in South Africa and, as consumers, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between non-green and real green products just by glancing at the packaging. This is why it is imperative actually to examine the label, ask for the MSDS sheet and ask for the product’s safety ratings. Alternatively, consumers can simply Google the company name, plus the word ‘environment’ and see what pops up. This is far from scientific, but if consumers or environmental advocates have taken issue with the company’s track record, something’s bound to materialise.


Nobody likes to be taken advantage of, especially when it comes to money. So, the next time you buy a cleaning product claiming to be ‘green’, ask yourself, are the manufacturers of this product telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? – before you buy it. The last thing you want to do is spend money on a product or service you believe is doing right by the environment, but in reality is not. For this reason, there are certification processes that exist for Green Cleaning services. Insist that your cleaning contractor provides evidence.

By John Coetzee, CEO of Managed Care Economical Solutions (MCES)


Take a look in the office cleaning cabinet. You will likely find at least 15 different cleaning agents designed to clean 15 different things. The irony is that one product could probably clean everything, but cleaning companies wouldn’t want you to only buy one product, now would they? They want you to spend money. They want to make money. So they design a product only for cleaning toilets, and another ‘specifically’ designed to clean floors, yet another to clean office desks, and the list goes on. All these synthetic cleaning products use chemicals that are not only dangerous to the environment, but also to your health and to the health of those around you. 


The primary function of cleaning is to reduce dirt, dust, bacteria and moulds from surfaces. Unfortunately, modern societies have developed a cleanliness and ‘germ hating’ obsession, which has led to the development of ever more powerful cleaning agents.  Millions of kilograms of general purpose cleaners are consumed worldwide each year. The average household and workplace now has a collection of synthetic chemicals that would only have been found in a laboratory 50 years ago. 


Synthetic cleaning agents contain volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) that can be inhaled into our lungs as we use them, while many other ingredients are easily absorbed by the skin. These VOCs are heavily polluting in their production, contribute to air pollution and smog and they biodegrade slowly and incompletely. In addition, they can cause allergic reactions and worsen asthma, they can irritate skin, lungs, sinuses, eyes and throats (they may even damage them), they can cause brain damage at high doses and be addictive and they have been linked to infertility and miscarriages. Some chemicals are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and yet they are sold in your local store, and are probably used to clean your company’s bathroom. Some cleaning agents list formaldehyde as an ingredient, an ingredient which is banned globally in developed countries and yet it is found in several common cleaning agents.


Considering the risks of using synthetic cleaning products, joining the ‘green side’ should be an obvious choice for you and your company. ‘How?’ you may ask; by simply switching from synthetic cleaning products to green cleaning products that are not harmful to your health and are just as effective when it comes to cleaning.


Because green cleaning products are based on enzymes and certain types of friendly bacteria, which are found in every living organism, they provide clear win-win benefits for both cleaning businesses and the environment. Enzymes and bacteria are nature’s tools; they are biodegradable proteins that speed up vital biological processes. When enzymes are finished with their work, they are absorbed back into nature’s cycle. 


Enzyme-based cleaners are increasingly being used instead of synthetic chemicals throughout the cleaning industry in food services, the hospitality industry, healthcare facilities factories, schools, jails, sporting venues and other large public facilities. They are used to clean and deodorise carpets, kitchens and bathrooms, eliminate grease from cracks, grout and hard floors, and even to keep urinals smelling fresh. They remove deposits on pipes, clear drains and keep pipe lines free-running and odour-free. 


Among the many benefits of using bio-enzymes are their safety, long-lasting cleaning ability and cost-effectiveness. They go beyond cleaning well – the microbes continue to eliminate residual organics after the job is done and the cleaner has left. And, using them can reduce the risk of regulatory headaches and potential liabilities associated with using more hazardous chemicals.


So come to the green side.  Turn to green cleaning products and your company will be one step closer to reaching their green goals. In fact, you will not only improve productivity but will most certainly cut down on the amount of lost work time due to caustic chemical exposure. In short, everybody wins.

Recycling PET, the plastic used to manufacture beverage bottles as well as many food containers, has helped generate almost 26 000 indirect jobs, and the plastics recycling industry can reduce poverty across South Africa and contribute to GDP growth.


This is the upbeat message from the CEO of PETCO, Cheri Scholtz, on the second day of the South African National Bottled Water Association’s Conference in Midrand, Gauteng. PETCO is the industry organisation responsible for PET recycling in South Africa.


In a presentation entitled “PET Recycling in South Africa – Plastic Bottles are not Trash”, Scholtz informed delegates that PETCO and its recycling initiatives have become a global benchmark for extended producer responsibility because of its success to bale-by-bale, year-by-year, reduce the volume of post-consumer PET plastic in the waste stream.


Working with collectors, recyclers, converters and packaging designers to ensure the successful growth of the PET recycling industry, PETCO is well on the way to achieving its challenging target of recycling 50% of all beverage PET by 2015.


This would not be possible without the voluntary financial support from PETCO’s members who have all helped launch a consumer engagement campaign using the compelling slogan: “PET bottles are not trash” – a simple slogan to start motivating consumers.  When coupled with thought-provoking headlines, compelling facts and figures, and superb photographs of PET bottles that showcase them as objects of value, PETCO is hoping that consumers will begin to reconsider their attitudes to PET and take a bold, successful step towards an inclusive and environmentally sustainable future.             


Extrupet’s Chief Operating Officer, Chandru Wadhwani, carried on the theme set by Scholtz when he addressed designing for recycling.


“The dilemma for bottle converters to meet challenging customer demands for ‘marketing friendly’ packaging while at the same time meeting the demands of the Waste Act to be responsible producers’ is an ever growing one,” he said.


“No longer is it sufficient for packaging to just be ‘recyclable’, it must be able to demonstrate that it is in fact being recycled. Designing packaging with recycling in mind from the offset is critical in determining its final recyclability as recyclers are ever cautious about which ‘packs’ they will accept, and which they will not.


“Ultimately, there is a ‘win/win’ approach that can be achieved from pro-active engagement between the designers of packaging and recyclers so we can all ultimately achieve a ‘cradle to cradle’ solution for packaging,” Wadhwani said.


Parsons and Associates Specialist Groundwater Consultants’ Roger Parsons iterated that water is the key component of any bottled water operation, and without it there simply will be no business.  It thus requires a high degree of protection. 


He suggested that the protection of source water entails four main components, namely understanding the water resource, identifying vulnerabilities and opportunities of the source, undertaking measurements and monitoring and reviewing and revising the management of the water source. 


Using a series of case studies, his presentation demonstrated the components of source protection and assessed the approach adopted by SANBWA.


Putting theory into practice, General Manager The Coca-Cola Company’s PlantBottle™ Packaging Platform, Scott Vitters, took delegates through the launch of its PlantBottle package.


Moving beyond aspirational statements, this eliminates the dependence of PET plastic packaging on fossil-based materials. Today the company has already introduced 10-billion bottles with its first generation PlantBottle packaging technology in 20 countries and recently announced partnerships for commercializing the first 100% renewable PET plastic bottle that is fully recyclable.


SANBWA’s conference is running in parallel to DrinkTech, the exhibition for the bottled water industry that takes place every second year, Africa’s Big Seven (AB7) exhibition, a ‘seven-in-one’ exhibition covering the entire food and beverage industry from ‘crop to shop’.


PETCO and bespoke recycling and waste handling engineering solutions company – Akura Manufacturing, also demonstrated the first stage of PET recycling at the conference.


They brought a baler to the exhibition and conference venue to take care of the PET bottle waste generated during the SANBWA conference. These bales will be incorporated into Gallagher Estate’s waste management programme and sent for further recycling. PETCO also put up an exhibit illustrating other stages in the recycling process.


For further information about SANBWA and the conference go to

Emerging Trends In Sustainable Packaging

In a recent presentation at the Utilizing Packaging and its evolving trends to Maximize Profits: Innovation and Sustainability In Packaging conference, Dr Inka Crosswaite, a South African cultural insight and semiotics specialist with a Doctorate in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town, identified what the world means by ‘sustainability’.


She also showed how we are seeing sustainability manifest in how brands are communicating and positioning themselves today, most noticeably through packaging, and identified several new emerging trends in sustainable packaging.


“‘Sustainability’ is beginning to shape consumer behaviour, slowly but surely, she said. For consumers, some choices are more ‘sustainable’ than others – the word either reinforcing a positive feeling, or eliminating or reducing a negative feeling,” she said.


“One of the areas where brands can improve their sustainability credentials is packaging. So much so that the Sustainable Packaging Coalition ( has published a concise definition of what it expects from brands claiming to be packaged in sustainable packing.


“According to the SPC, packaging can only be sustainable if it:

·         Is beneficial, safe and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle.

·         Meets market criteria for performance and cost.

·         Is sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable energy.

·         Maximises the use of renewable or recycled source materials.

·         Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.

·         Is made from materials healthy in all possible end-of-life scenarios.

·         Is physically designed to optimise materials and energy.

·         Is effectively recovered and utilised in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles.”


Crosswaite identified several sustainable packaging trends already seen on world shelves. There’s the rise of digital, the power of pouches, labelling for recovery, utilising new materials, , downsizing product packaging in terms of formats and materials as well as concentrates, packaging on demand, the return of paper, reusable and refillable packs, recyclable packs, made from recycled materials, and biodegradable or compostable packs.


Examples of these include:


·         Power of pouches – Kraft YES Pack

The packaging waste occupies 50% less landfill space. Transportation of film involves 70% fewer CO2 emissions. Made with 6 oz less water per 2/1-gal case. Discarded materials take up 86% less container space


·         Labelling for recovery – Modern Spirits

Modern Spirits uses labels made from 100% post-consumer waste. The new labels, made from recycled paper stock, present a good appearance and feel, take ink well, and exhibit high tolerance to shipping and handling conditions


·         Downsizing product packaging: formats and materials – Marks & Spencer

The company introduced skin pack for meats which apart from using less material keeps the meat fresher for an extra 5 days


·         Downsizing product packaging: concentration – Charmin

Compact toilet paper: 12 mega roles equal 48 regular rolls of toilet paper. The company claims that if 1 million consumers switched from Regular Charmin to Mega it would save 85 000 gallons of diesel fuel and eliminate 500 000 pounds of trash and packaging


·         New packaging materials – Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion

The hair care line introduced a plant-based bottle that is made out of sustainable sugarcane-derived plastic. It will consume over 70 percent less fossil fuels and release over 170% less greenhouse gases per ton


·         The return of paper – Keienburg GmbH

The cardboard can developed by Keienburg in Germany enables a greener and cheaper packaging process for carbonated drinks


·         Reusable and refillable packs – KFC

‘Reuse. Renew. Rejoice’ is KFC pay off line for their reusable containers which are both dishwasher safe and microwaveable


·         Recyclable packs – GreenBottle

GreenBottle is recyclable, compostable and biodegradable – a ‘Planet Friendly’ alternative
to plastic bottles


·         Made from recycled materials – EarthBoundFarm organic vegetables

Ebfarm’s switch saved 424 224 million BTUs of energy, avoided 16 191 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, saved 68 307gallons of water, kept 1 308 623 pounds of solid waste out of the landfill


·         Biodegradable or compostable packs – SunChips

SunChips uses 100% compostable packaging for its Original flavour SunChips® snacks

While certainly not the largest contributor to South Africa’s economy, the bottled water industry plays a vital role by employing 1 800 people and generating sales of R3 550-million.


This was the message from South African National Bottled Water Association chairman, John Weaver, to delegates at SANBWA’s Bottled Water Conference taking place in Midrand, Gauteng, today (Monday July 16).


SANBWA was formed in 1997 as a standard setting and representative body. Membership of SANBWA is voluntary but strictly controlled, and comprises bottlers of all classes of bottled water (natural, defined by origin and prepared) whose primary concern is the health, safety and pleasure of their consumers.


Its role is to promote the image and reputation of bottled water through adherence to global benchmarked standards, while continuously improving and protecting the conservation of all water resources wherever possible.


Weaver highlighted thatdespite often being accused of depleting South Africa’s water resources, the bottled water industry uses surprising little water, and is based on sustainability.


He said the South African bottled water industry’s water usage benchmark is 1.8:1, but there are plants that achieve ratios of as low as 1.2:1.


This water usage benchmark equates to a water usage rate of 22.7 litres/second. This is less than that used by just two 18 hole golf courses during the course of a year and equal to that used by just one 45 hectare export fruit farm. Two golf courses and one export fruit farm also employ far fewer people than the bottled water industry.


Weaver added that South African legislation covering the use of groundwater is well developed, and is directed towards ensuring the sustainability of our water resources, rather than depleting them.


“When assessing the sustainability of South Africa’s groundwater, consideration has to be given to the groundwater recharge rate, and then ensuring that this rate is not exceeded,” he said.


“Groundwater is a highly desirable resource for the bottled water industry in South Africa because it is largely unpolluted and renewable.


“The total water consumption by the bottled water industry (production volumes plus incidental use) in 2011 was 0.72 million m3. This equates to only 0.013% of the country’s total groundwater usage.”


Chairman of the European Federation of Bottled Water, Hubert Genieys, shared the challenges and opportunities his organisation is facing with delegates in the belief that sharing information will benefit the industry worldwide.


“Key challenges facing the Federation include ownership of healthy hydration, protection and  promotion of quality specificities, and recognition of social role and environmental performances strategy,” he said.


“EFBW’s strategy is to lead and align industry behind a same roadmap with simple messages by ascribing to a select few initiatives with credible third party endorsement tactics. These include setting up dedicated expert working groups, promoting bottled water at EU forums and in EU publications, engaging with parliamentary members and developing a dedicated toolbox to engage our targets.”


Other speakers on the opening day of the conference included Chris Dunn of standards development, product certification, auditing, education and risk management concern NSF International; Andrew Murray of a consultancy by the same name, and Ronel Burger and Fiona van der Linde of CGCSA: GS1.


GS1 is a neutral, not-for-profit organisation operating in 110 countries, dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards, technologies and solutions to improve the efficiency of supply and demand chains by adding useful information to any exchange of goods or services.


Dunn addressed delegates on PET recycling, PET being the plastic used to make bottled water bottled, and reviewed the methods of treatment available for water used in the manufacturing of bottled water. Here he discussed the methods that destroy pathogens within the time available for disinfection and help assure the safety and quality of products.


Murray spoke about the fact that South Africa does not have a certifiable standard for the construction of hygienic food processing equipment.  He talked delegates through the international standard ISO 14159:2002   Safety of Machinery – Hygienic requirements for the design of machinery, which has been adopted as a voluntary South African National Standard, as well as the value of SANS14159 has been referenced in the new SANS 10049: Food Safety management – Requirements for prerequisite programmes.


Burger focussed on product safety and recall in South Africa. She said that the ability to remove products from the market quickly and effectively is vital to every food producer and distributor but highlighted that, even though a number of organisations have detailed consumer safety food recall processes, there is an uneven approach to consumer safety product recalls within the South African market.


This is a glaring shortcoming as all consumers need to be able to trust that the country’s food industry will recall products with a potential or actual consumer safety risk and that recalled, unsafe food products will be handled appropriately. (Bottled water is regarded by South African legislation as a packaged food.)


Van der Linde informed delegates how to implement a traceability system within a supply chain. It requires all parties involved to systematically link the physical flow of materials and products with the flow of information about them. This requires a holistic view of the supply chain, which is best attained by deploying a common business language, she said.


SANBWA’s conference is running in parallel to DrinkTech, the exhibition for the bottled water industry that takes place every second year, Africa’s Big Seven (AB7) exhibition, a ‘seven-in-one’ exhibition covering the entire food and beverage industry from ‘crop to shop’.


PETCO, the industry organisation responsible for PET recycling in South Africa, and bespoke recycling and waste handling engineering solutions company – Akura Manufacturing, are demonstrating the first stage of PET recycling at the conference.


They have brought a baler to the exhibition and conference venue to take care of the PET bottle waste generated during the SANBWA conference. These bales will be incorporated into Gallagher Estate’s waste management programme and sent for further recycling. PETCO also put up an exhibit illustrating other stages in the recycling process.


For further information about SANBWA and the conference go to

SA’s best loved chocolate brand, Cadbury Dairy Milk, is proud to announce the launch of the first re-sealable chocolate packaging in South Africa. 


Unique to Kraft Foods, this breakthrough revolutionary new packaging allows consumers to be able to open and close their favourite chocolate slab again and again. The re-sealable packaging offers consumers the opportunity to tuck away their special chocolate treat to enjoy it for longer. 


“This re-sealable packaging innovation is in-line with current South Africa consumer trends which shows consumers are constantly seeking new experiences beyond the product” says Greg Banach, Kraft Foods Category Leader: Chocolate. 


Look out for Cadbury Dairy Milk slabs that hold the re-sealable logo, flip over the pack and open to enjoy this unique chocolaty experience.  


The launch will be supported through a full 360 degree campaign with TV, outdoor activity as well as experiential activation never seen before in South Africa. 


Cadbury Dairy Milk Re-sealable packaging is currently available in stores nationwide. 

When the South African paint manufacturer, Plascon, needed to lower costs associated with storing raw materials and packaging off-site, APC Storage Solutions SA, the front-running warehouse solutions provider in Africa, designed and built them South Africa’s highest density pallet warehouse, and the world’s largest non-automated self-supported warehouse to house materials on site.


“By opting for the self-supported warehouse concept – where the actual racking installation supports the building’s exterior, lighting and other rigging – Plascon was able to save 30% of its warehouse procurement budget by not using standard civil construction methods. Furthermore, having raw materials on site has reduced transport costs, as well as expenses associated with additional, off-site storage facilities,” says Fred Albrecht, Managing Director, APC Storage Solutions SA. 


Reaching up 23m, the warehouse had to be built on only  1 310m2 at Plascon’s Luipaardsvlei manufacturing facility in Krugersdorp to facilitate the easy storage, retrieval and order preparation for over 2 300 specialised pallets.


With the new warehouse configuration, raw materials, such as pigments, solvents and other additives, are stored inside the self-supported warehouse upon arrival at the facility. When the factory requires certain ingredients, a turret truck picks and moves pallets to the live storage section. The live storage racking system gradually feeds raw materials into the manufacturing plant: pallets are picked at the production plant-facing end of the roller conveyor system, and pallets are re-stocked at the warehouse-facing end.


“We also supplied a live pallet racking system – where items are fed in one end, accumulated, and then picked at the other,” says Albrecht. This makes up the interface between the warehouse and production plant, and helps with order preparation and stock rotation. It also helps prevent warehouse staff and production plant staff from moving freely between the warehouse and production plant, improving general stock control.


APC Storage Solutions SA has further completed the design of a second phase warehouse installation that will house final paint products in a fully-automated warehouse.


“A maintenance agreement between APC Storage Solutions SA and Plascon recommends a bi-annual warehouse inspection as per SEMA, FEM and EN regulations as a free service,” concludes Albrecht. This helps warehouse owners detect any structural, layout or operational problems which APC Storage Solutions SA can address – keeping warehouses running in ideal conditions.


APC Storage Solutions SA is the market leader with the Spanish Mecalux as technology partner. A supplier of world-class products and integrated logistical storage solutions and services, APC Storage Solutions SA is focused on the core values Quality, Experience, Safety, and Technology – QUEST. APC Storage Solutions SA has FEM (European Federation of Material Handling Equipment), SEMA UK (Storage Equipment Manufacturing Association) and RMI (Rack Manufacturers Institute of America) accreditation, along with accreditation from 14 other federations and associations



E-business is growing in all possible areas – network connections, consumer numbers, transaction volumes, revenues, and the range of digital content and services on offer.


But as the industry continues to bloom, it is also diversifying. The addition of mobile and social platforms to traditional Web channels is making the market more accessible than ever, but it also presents big challenges.


All told, it is time for the e-enabling industry and merchants to re-think their game plan. What integration and design challenges will present themselves? What risks are there in transitioning to mobile and social, or in running all three platforms in parallel?


Drop the prefix already

Firstly, it bears repeating that business is business, no matter the style of execution. M-commerce, as it was once called, is a form of e-business, and e-business is just a form of business.


It’s true that social and mobile platforms, particularly mobile, will drive the next wave of e-business, and the challenges that come with the new territory will be different from the last.


But even if e-commerce mutates to the point where a handful of social communities and mobile hardware platforms dominate all others in the distribution of content and sale of products, the steps will be evolutionary and not involve a rip-and-replace exercise.


Changes big and small

Practical first steps

Currently, mobile commerce development is still driven by its starting promise of ‘democratising’ access to digital content and services. In the short term, therefore, innovations will need to be practical in nature.


Most immediately, this consists of:

·          Re-designing user interfaces to suit the small screens

·         Catering for all mobile platforms – including feature phones


Similarly, social is at an immature stage of its evolution, and changes to accommodate it will be more introductory than sweeping:

·         Social platforms can still be treated as a customer ramp-up opportunity for online and mobile platforms, and less of an integration nightmare.



Other, more drastic changes are dictated by consumer behaviour:

·         As more and more consumers become e-commerce converts, the underlying systems’ load profiles must be redesigned.

·         Micro-payments are changing the way people transact, and consumer-to-consumer payments will be next. Immediately, this requires re-architecting mobile commerce platforms; in time these changes will filter through to all e-platforms.

·         Legacy systems were built with particular consumer behaviour in mind – stationary shoppers at an unknown location. With changing expectations and possibilities, futurechange will include location-aware services, near-field communications and other innovations on the roadmaps of hardware manufacturers.


Who to pick

It’s worth considering, finally, whose help you will enlist to get ready for the increasingly social and mobile character that doing business may take.


Building your own plug-ins may not be the best route to follow – there are countless good existing solutions and programming interfaces for just about anything you might need. And entering the market with a monolithic app platform may give you what you need for now (at a cost), but does it have the agility to stay relevant?


The best bet in a changing market is to pick the niche apps that fulfil your needs, and to work with an integration partner with a track record of success in strategic e-business projects (including, of course, mobile and social).


This is the most open-ended approach to a problem where the only constant is change.

Canon SA Expo confirmed

Canon South Africa’s highly anticipated Canon SA Expo will be held from Friday, 30 November to Sunday, 2 December 2012 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, Gauteng.


The expo will be open from 10:00am to 18:00pm daily and entrance will be free.


After a highly successful show in 2011 where an excess of  13 500 visitors attended over the three days, Canon SA has taken it upon themselves to make this year’s show bigger and better.


The expo will again showcase Canon’s wide range of consumer and selected business solutions.


Visitors to this exclusively Canon Expo will also be the first to experience some of Canon’s latest technology.


The expo will include more guest speaker sessions than previously and two sessions are scheduled to run throughout the day.  


Aspiring photographers are invited to once again participate in the Canon Photo Competition and can enter one or all four themed categories, designed to encourage creative interpretation.


The themes are: Reflections; Into the Great Wide Open; Adrenaline and Magic Colours.


“Aside from the unexpected high attendance at last year’s expo, we were also amazed at the quality of entries submitted for the photographic competition,” says  Michelle Janse van Vuuren, Marketing Manager at Canon SA.


“We will use a similar format to last year but intend on making the themes even more interesting.”


Selected entries will be exhibited online on Canon SA’s Expo website ( as well as on the Expo’s Facebook site (search Canon SA Expo on Facebook).


One winner per category will be selected by a panel of judges and will be announced on 15 January 2013. They will each win an EOS5D Mark III including an EF40 MM F2.8 STM lens.


The top 10 entries in each category will also be exhibited in the gallery at the Canon Expo where visitors will be able to vote for their favourite entries.


Entries must be submitted in electronic JPEG format, not exceeding 2Megs, to the four email addresses correlating to the various themes.


Entrants must submit their entries to the email address appropriate to the category they are entering namely;;;


Entries open are open and close at midnight on 15 of October 2012.


Voting for the entries opens on 1 November and closes 2 December. The winners will be announced on the Canon Expo website on the 15 January 2013.

Visitors will be able to purchase selected Canon’s products at the Expo this year and the company has indicated that various specials will be up for grabs during the Expo period on a select range of Canon Consumer Imaging products.


For more information please visit

Credit card fraud is one of the biggest obstacles to growing e-commerce, according to Peter Harvey, founder and MD of internet payment gateway provider PayGate – but the risks could be slashed if the 3D Secure protection system was widely implemented.


“3D Secure is the online equivalent of a PIN,” says Harvey. “Cardholders have to enter an extra password to complete an online purchase. That adds a layer of protection against fraud for both the buyer and the seller. If the seller isn’t using 3D Secure and a fraudulent payment is made, they could be forced to refund it up to six months later.”


But, says Harvey, 3D Secure is not widely implemented yet, so customers often mistake it for a phishing scam when they first encounter it – which is where the banks come in.


“The only people who have the clout to make sure 3D actually works are the banks,” says Harvey. “At the moment we have a vicious circle: 3D Secure is not widespread so customers don’t trust it – around 15-20% will abandon the transaction when they’re asked for an extra password. So merchants don’t want to implement the system. Nobody wants to be first because they’ll lose out.”


The solution, says Harvey, is for the banks to get together and simultaneously force all online merchants to use 3D Secure, starting with the biggest online players of all, the airlines. “Between them our airlines are processing many thousands of online transactions every month. If they and a couple of other big e-commerce sites implemented 3D Secure, consumer perception would change very quickly and the smaller merchants would follow on naturally.”


Banks should also do more to educate consumers, says Harvey. “The 3D Secure screen that an online buyer sees belongs to and is designed by the bank, not by the merchant. Currently those screens do very little to reassure customers that what they’re seeing is legitimate – fixing that visual presentation could make a big difference.”


The pain, Harvey believes, will quickly be outweighed by the gain. “It’s going to be painful in the short term no matter what we do,” he says. “But by dragging it out in the current piecemeal way we’re just extending the suffering. If it’s worth doing, let’s just get it over with – there will be lots of complaints in the first month but then it will be over.”


On the other hand, says Harvey, “if 3D Secure is not worth doing, let’s just scrap the whole thing. The current situation, where the banks are forcing it on some smaller merchants but letting the big ones off, is not fair to anybody. It’s time our banks acted decisively.”


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