Linpac changes to meet challenges

In an interview with PRW, Linpac reveals work on bioplastics and recycled content.
 

14 December 2007 – Linpac Group, the UK’s biggest plastics processor with £1.1bn turnover and 9,000 employees worldwide, is near the end of a transition that has been led by Mike Arrowsmith, who joined as group chief executive in May 2005.

In an interview with PRW, Arrowsmith explained what the changes have meant to the company, which was acquired by Montagu Private Equity in 2004.

“One of the most fundamental changes in the business over the past two years has been to engage more fully with our customers to better understand their requirements and work with them on specific solutions to their needs,” he said.

The group’s packaging business Linpac Plastics started trials on bioplastic PLA packaging two years ago and has thoroughly evaluated any technical issues and its market potential.

Arrowsmith added: “We stand ready to serve that market, but very few of our customers at the moment want it.”
 
Trials were carried out with retailers in which PLA was used for packaging of organic fruit and vegetables, and also some meat products. But even this premium market segment does not currently feel able to support the higher prices of PLA packaging, it was found.

“Until consumers are in a position to pay a premium for packaging, I don’t currently see a mass market for organic packs,” said Arrowsmith.

Linpac Plastics is instead going down the route of recycled content in packaging and Arrowsmith said he was “delighted” to see plans for new capacity to produce food grade recycled PET in the UK.

With the packaging business, Linpac Plastics, contributing 47% of the group’s turnover, the growing public focus on the environmental impact of packaging is a hot topic. For this reason, it has active lightweighting programmes in place and is increasing the use of recycled raw materials.

“We have a responsibility to ensure we minimise packaging,” said Arrowsmith.

One example of lightweighting is pizza discs, in which Linpac has changed formulations and succeeded in reducing weight by 20%.

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