Endless, exciting innovative products and projects at Rhino Group

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - JULY 15, 2016

From its humble beginnings as a plastic recycler more than 45 years ago, the Rhino Group, which is based in Port Elizabeth, continues to diversify its innovative offerings with new water and energy-centric solutions.

“An exciting project is in our Rhino Greenbuilding (RGB) division. After sub-contracting to Murray & Roberts on the R2 billion Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth to construct and plaster separation walls on the second floor, we took the unique lightweight walling solution that we did for them using  polystyrene to cast walls on site and used the concept to create a green product using 100% recycled materials to develop it into lightweight blocks for eco-centric buildings,” described the group’s intrepid Director, Brian van Niekerk, who is best known for developing the futuristic, off-grid House Rhino.

He said that walls built from the lightweight blocks aid in sound proofing as well as thermal insulation with 2 hour fire ratings coupled with light-weight, and these have since been adopted by several architects, engineers and developers, seeking cost-effective and cutting-edge green building solutions on their projects in Cape Town and elsewhere.

“Since November last year, we have been pulling resources together, have designed a new, fully-automated machine and are busy building a factory for the production of these lightweight blocks,” described van Niekerk. The light-weight concrete is also being used on construction sites for screeds and light-weight void filling that RGB installs as a subcontractor.

While, on paper, the blocks may seem a bit more costly per square metre than conventional blocks, he says they actually save contractors on labour, time and waste on site, improve a building’s energy efficiency and offer numerous lifestyle benefits as well as increase asset value in terms of new international trends.

“Like I said, the blocks are 100% recyclable. So, we also take back the waste from the contractor for free for recycling and reuse,” he adds.

Rhino Greenbuilding is also making unique furniture out of the lightweight concrete together with conventional concrete and polishing the surfaces.

“In addition, we have new floor screeds that you can put on an existing floor or over tiles and walls and gives a magnificent finish to any working or living space. The product is offered in different colours and textures and we can still personalise it for you. It can also be applied to furniture and kitchen counter-tops among other things,” van Niekerk said.

He added that to complete it all, the company had entered into a partnership with a local artist, who is making beautiful artworks out of the concrete.

“All these new innovations are going to be showcased in a 500 square-metre showroom that we are busy building here in PE – in addition to one in Cape Town and one planned for Johannesburg.”

Elsewhere within the group, they started manufacturing grain bags locally in June and continue to push the boundaries in agriculture, LED technology and water treatment among many other exciting projects.