30 October 2018

Stora Enso buys Swedish cellulose technology firm Cellutech

Finnish pulp and paper manufacturer Stora Enso has acquired Sweden-based Cellutech for an undisclosed amount. The deal will support Stora Enso’s commitment to replace fossil-based materials with renewable materials made using wood. It will not have a financial impact on the group.

Stora Enso Biomaterials executive vice-president Markus Mannström said: “The acquisition of Cellutech will add a new dimension to our fibre and cellulose capabilities, particularly in lightweight foams and spheres. We are investing in technologies and expertise that will further broaden application development competence in Stora Enso’s Biomaterials Division.”

Cellutech develops new materials and applications based on cellulose, micro-fibrillated cellulose (MFC) and other wood-based components for packaging applications. It works on foams used in packaging and hydroponics. Cellulosic foams can be used in packaging as a replacement for polystyrenes.

Stora Enso offers renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions and paper. The company currently has around 26,000 employees in more than 30 countries. In May, Stora Enso signed a joint development deal with Sulapac to accelerate the use of fully renewable, recyclable and biodegradable materials in packaging to fight plastic waste.

This partnership enables Stora Enso to licence Sulapac’s materials and technology, and develop fully renewable caps and closures for liquid packages.


30 October 2018

Report says EU ban could raise costs for plastic packaging companies

The European Parliament’s ban on single-use plastics could increase costs incurred in waste management and clean-up for plastic packaging companies, according to a report by business and financial services company Moody’s.

The report said that the measures suggested by the Parliament to reduce environmental pollution caused by plastic waste are expected to increase additional investments for processing recycled materials and alternative inputs across the industry.

Organisations across packaging, retail and consumer goods domains will experience increased pressure to consider non-plastic alternatives while customers are expected to choose plastic packaging alternatives. 

According to the report, the proposed EPR scheme and the proposal to use significant recycled materials for plastic bottles are expected to be a huge negative for the industry. The ban may slow down industry growth while retailers, consumer goods companies and customers turn away from plastic packaging. It will also increase costs for plastic packaging companies, which they could not afford, the report noted. However, the industry could see new opportunities for companies to develop value-added products due to the growing use of sustainable products, the report concluded.

On 24 October, the European Parliament voted in favour of a blanket ban on single-use plastics in a bid to tackle the pollution menace that is causing significant damage to oceans. The proposed ban will result in the elimination of plastic straws, cotton swabs, as well as disposable plastic plates and cutlery from the EU market from 2021. A total of 90% of plastic bottles will be recycled by 2025.


29 October 2018

PepsiCo commits to use 25% recycled content for packaging

Soft drinks major PepsiCo plans to use 25% of recycled content for its plastic packaging by 2025 as part of its sustainable plastics vision.

As part of the commitment, the company aims to use 33% recycled PET content with a focus on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) beverage bottles by 2025. The company will work collaboratively with suppliers and partners to increase consumer awareness, foster cross-industry and public-private partnerships, as well as advocate for improved recycling infrastructure and regulatory reform.

PepsiCo vice-chairman and chief scientific officer Mehmood Khan said: “We intend to achieve that vision by reducing, recycling and reusing, and reinventing our plastic packaging and leading global change through partnerships.

“PepsiCo is one of the world’s largest users of food-grade recycled PET. To further boost recycled content across all plastic packaging and drive progress towards a circular economy for plastics, it is vital to dramatically increase global waste collection and recycling rates through investment in recycling infrastructure and technology.”

The decision complements PepsiCo’s commitment to its 2025 Agenda. The company aims to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, compostable or biodegradable, while increasing the use of recycled materials, reducing the carbon impact of its packaging, as well as increasing recycling rates by working in collaboration with the PepsiCo Foundation.

Earlier in October, the beverage maker signed a multi-year supply agreement with Loop Industries to incorporate Loop PET plastic into its product packaging by mid-2020.

In September, PepsiCo also announced plans to join the Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) to enable businesses, communities and governments to redesign their waste management systems to create a circular model.


29 October 2018

Faerch Plast UK introduces recycled PET material

British recycled plastic packaging firm Faerch Plast UK has introduced 100% recycled PET material under its Food to Go banner. According to the company, the new material reduces the need for virgin materials and will be made available from 1 January 2019.

Faerch Plast UK and Ireland sales director Mark Tollman said: “We see this as a great innovation for our customers and the environment, as we continue to develop sustainable packaging. This innovation is a further commitment to the UK Plastics Pact, which we are proud to be a founding member of.”

The UK Plastics Pact is a collaborative initiative formed to create a circular economy for plastics by stimulating new business models to reduce the total amount of plastic packaging. Using locally sourced materials, Faerch Plast currently produces recycled plastic packaging at its Ely plant for the UK and European markets. The company has invested £20m in the Ely plant over the last two years. 

In July, the packaging company acquired Dutch sheet manufacturer 4PET Group in a move to strengthen its presence as an integrated plastic packaging supplier. In June, the company also signed a partnership with major British retailers Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco, as well as waste management company Viridor, to recycle black plastic. The project will create a circular economy solution to bring back recycled black plastic into new food grade packaging.


26 October 2018

European Parliament clears bill to ban single-use plastics

The European Parliament has voted in favour of a blanket ban on single-use plastics in a bid to tackle the pollution menace that is causing significant damage to oceans. The bill, which was introduced by the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Frederique Ries, was passed by 571-53 votes. The introduction and the passage of the bill come after the European Commission proposed a ban in May.

The proposed ban will result in the elimination of plastic straws, cotton swabs, as well as disposable plastic plates and cutlery from the EU market from 2021. A total of 90% of plastic bottles will be recycled by 2025. MEPs added some additional items to the list of banned plastics. These include products made of oxo-degradable plastics such as bags or packaging and fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene. Member States will also have to reduce the consumption of plastic products that have no alternatives, by at least 25% by 2025.

Ries said: “We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics. It is up to us now to stay the course in the upcoming negotiations with the Council, due to start as early as November. Today’s vote paves the way to a forthcoming and ambitious directive. It is essential in order to protect the marine environment and reduce the costs of environmental damage attributed to plastic pollution in Europe, estimated at €22bn by 2030.”

Several countries and companies have been taking measures in response to growing calls from environmentalists and rising public support for stringent steps to curb plastic packaging waste. Multinational giants from the consumer goods industry have pledged to ensure all plastic packaging to be either recyclable or compostable by 2025 through plastic reduction strategies.


26 October 2018

International Paper to sell Brazilian cardboard packaging unit

US-based pulp and paper company International Paper has reportedly confirmed that it is looking at options to sell its Brazilian cardboard packaging unit. 

In a statement, the company told Reuters: “It is exploring strategic options for the packaging business in Brazil, including a potential sale.”

Meanwhile, Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico reported that the potential sale is being considered as “the unit is not profitable.” The company has also reported net sales of $5.9bn in the third quarter, compared to the net sales of $5.5bn for the same period last year.

Operating profits of the company business segments such as industrial packaging were $472m, Global Cellulose Fibers were $83m, and Printing Papers were $183m during the third quarter. The company’s Printing Papers segment reported improved earnings in Brazil driven by seasonally stronger sales volumes and higher sales prices, as well as partially offset by higher input costs.

International Paper has also noted that a pre-tax charge of $122m related to the impairment of fixed assets and an intangible asset in its Brazil Packaging business were included in the special items of the third quarter.

Commenting on the results, International Paper chairman and CEO Mark Sutton said: “We had solid commercial performance and continued momentum across the businesses, and we continue to work aggressively to offset higher distribution and input costs. Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, we see continued healthy demand for our products and remain confident in our commitment to deliver strong full-year earnings growth in 2018.”


25 October 2018

Unilever partners with Veolia to create circular economy for plastics

Unilever has signed a three-year collaboration agreement with French resource management firm Veolia to jointly improve waste collection and recycling infrastructure across jurisdictions to lead to sustainable packaging. The partnership will focus on creating a circular economy for plastics waste in various countries, starting with India and Indonesia. Unilever and Veolia will work on emerging technologies that will enable the creation of a circular economy.

Based on data released by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, only 14% of the plastic packaging used across the world is collected for recycling after use, while 40% ends up in landfills and around 33% in fragile ecosystems. The agreement is in line with Unilever’s pledge made last year to ensure that all its plastic packaging will be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. The company’s sustainability target also includes increasing the amount of recycled plastic content in its packaging to at least 25% by 2025.

Unilever chief supply chain officer Marc Engel said: “The scale of the plastic waste issue is getting worse, not better, with the production of plastics expected to double over the next two decades. We all have a lot more to do to address this critical issue and we hope that by partnering with Veolia, a world leader in waste management, we can take meaningful strides towards a circular economy.”

The company emphasised that strong measures need to be taken across the value chain to enhance collection and reprocessing infrastructure. The partners will mainly focus on material collection, which they believe is key to bringing back recycled content into the value chain. Work under the collaboration will also include implementation of used packaging collection solutions, the addition of recycling capacity, as well as the development of new business models in various countries.

Veolia Development, Innovation and Markets senior executive vice-president Laurent Auguste said: “There is an undeniable need to transform the current way plastic packaging end of life is managed in order to reduce significantly its environmental footprint.

“With this global partnership, Veolia and Unilever join forces in various geographies around the globe and, from the collection to the recycling, take a leadership role to redefine a responsible and sustainable future for packaging.”


25 October 2018

Universal Forest Products buys US packaging firm Pak-Rite

US-based Universal Forest Products, through its subsidiary, has completed the acquisition of all operating assets of packaging design and manufacturing firm Pak-Rite. The transaction is expected to expand the company’s presence in custom packaging solutions.

Universal Forest Products CEO Matthew J Missad said: “Pak-Rite aligns with our strategic objective to become the industry’s foremost packaging solutions provider. It has earned a reputation for extraordinary products and services, and we are excited to add them to our growing portfolio of packaging products.

“We’re very fortunate to add the dedicated people of Pak-Rite who have been instrumental in creating a successful company and who are motivated to grow their careers and the Pak-Rite products with Universal.”

Pak-Rite former president Kirk Blaha will also serve as the company’s operations general manager while founder and former CEO Rick Blaha has offered consulting services through the transition period.

Kirk said: “We are excited for this new chapter of our business after more than 20 years of success. With the strength of Universal, we will be able to grow our customer base, products and design services, and offer more opportunity to our people. It is a winning situation all the way around, and we look forward to being part of the growing Universal family of companies.”

Established in 1996, Pak-Rite offers an assortment of packaging solutions for manufacturers across medical, aerospace and automation equipment industries. The company operates its business from Milwaukee, Wisconsin facility, and employs nearly 60 people.