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Südpack continues steady growth with laser focus on sustainability


Photo courtesy of Südpack

INTERNATIONAL GROWTH — Südpack recently opened a new facility in Poland, marking another milestone in the company's success story. The building complex is equipped with cutting-edge technology and includes expanded printing and finishing capacity.

By Alyssa Mitchell

OAK CREEK, Wis. — For more than 50 years, Südpack has been serving customers all over the world and in a wide variety of industries, including cheese and dairy, with its high-performance films. The company recently celebrated two significant expansion milestones and continues to operate with sustainability in mind.

“Südpack is really fueled for growth,” says Simon Hermans, vice president of U.S. sales and marketing. “We recently opened a new plant in Poland and also had an opening ceremony for a large operation in India that will serve customers in pouch making and printing.”

The new plant in Kłobuck, Poland, marks another milestone in Südpack’s success story, Hermans notes.

“It primarily stands for uncompromising performance, customer proximity and sustainability,” he says.

The building complex is equipped with cutting-edge technology and officially opened in May. The expansion of printing and finishing capacity at the Polish site is a strategically important step toward meeting the steadily growing demand for the company’s solutions, Hermans says, noting that at the same time, Südpack is setting the course for future, sustainable growth in the print sector.

The formal inauguration of the factory also marks the beginning of a new era for Südpack in this region, he says. The groundbreaking ceremony took place back in July 2020 at the site of a company Südpack acquired in 2015, Bahpol, which primarily specializes in flexo print. Now, two years later, the extensive building work and installation of the complex printing, laminating and slitting equipment are largely complete.

“The production facilities have been gradually ramped up over the past few months. The first machines have been in four-shift operation since the end of 2021. The new printing plate system that Südpack needs to implement its resource-saving, highly efficient SPQ technology is a real highlight,” says Tharcisse Carl, managing director, Südpack Group.

“SPQ stands for Sustainable Print Quality — and the name says it all,” adds Carolin Grimbacher, managing partner of Südpack. “This innovative printing technology enables us to significantly reduce ink and solvent consumption while significantly improving the print quality. SPQ is revolutionizing flexo printing and is certainly the way forward.”

Hermans notes the new equipment has been very successful for initial customer orders. At the same time, customers also are benefiting from much greater flexibility and speed now that the pre-press stage is carried out in-house.

Meanwhile, Südpack recently entered a joint venture with Kamakshi Flexiprints Pvt. Ltd., one of the leading producers of printed flexible packaging materials based in Ahmedabad, India. Kamakshi Flexiprints was founded in 1994 and serves the food and non-food industry with high-quality and innovative flexible packaging solutions.

The joint venture includes the addition of a new facility near Ahmedabad to cater to the maturing packaging needs of the Indian markets with a vast range of products into barrier, aesthetics and convenience flexible packaging, Hermans says. The infrastructure includes state-of-the-art extrusion, printing, coating and lamination capacities and was inaugurated last summer. The facility also is a “green building” per the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) and complies with good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and effective international regulations and standards for the food industry, such as BRC, FSMS ISO 22001, QMS ISO 9001 and SMS-ISO 45001.

“We see a growing demand for high quality in barrier, medical and lidding flexible materials in the Indian market mainly due to the evolving matured packaging needs in the Indian subcontinent arising from constant demographic changes,” Carl says. “With Kamakshi Flexiprints, we have found a partner to share our culture and our strategy, and last but not least, our high standards of quality and service to our customers.”

While based in Germany with a global foothold, Südpack’s new plants in Poland and India also serve the company’s North American customers, Hermans notes. Südpack operates its U.S. headquarters out of Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The Oak Creek facility allows the company to offer its customers local converting, including flexo and roto printing, lamination, slitting and more, as well as provide products and solutions for U.S. customers with shorter delivery times and greater flexibility.

Bringing sustainable technologies and solutions from Europe — especially when it comes to recycle-ready packaging — also keeps Südpack at the forefront of sustainable practices for its North American customers, Hermans says.

The company recently developed a recycle-ready mono-polyethylene option for cheese shreds, chunks and String.

“It’s basically for all types of vacuum- or MAP-pack cheese,” Hermans says. “We’re ready to launch this with the right partners in North America, and the U.S. market is asking for this due to an increased focus on recyclable materials.”

As part of Südpack’s Sustainability

Agenda, the company is pushing ahead with the expansion of its product portfolio of sustainable film solutions.
One key focus has been Südpack’s Pure Line, an innovative product family made of recyclable mono-materials that already has garnered major industry awards. In addition to its propylene-based PurePP, Südpack now offers its internationally operating customers PurePE and PurePET, materials that are classified in many countries as recyclable, Hermans notes.

“Our high-performance solutions provide the same functionalities as multilayer materials,” he says. “They are also optimally designed for different application fields — our current spectrum ranges from thermoforming film to peelable lidding films with an integrated resealing system. For special requirements, we have also developed mono-solutions with barrier properties that can be used instead of aluminum composites.”

In order to further align its resources more efficiently with the requirements of key markets, especially in the area of sustainability, the company launched a “Strategic Product Management” department in early 2021. The goal of the department is to introduce a comprehensive product management cycle, including the generation of ideas and concepts for new product development and targeted marketing, as well as the optimization of product portfolios and the strategic positioning of products in corresponding markets.

Meanwhile, the reduction of the company’s carbon footprint in one of Südpack’s key medium-term goals, Hermans says.

“With this in mind, all product developments, construction measures, initiatives and collaborative efforts aim to significantly improve our carbon footprint in order to make a vital contribution to sustainable development,” he says. “Over the long term, we are aiming to achieve climate neutrality at all of our sites. We are also working on the carbon footprint reduction of our film solutions and are developing a diversified set of measures for that.”

The company also has joined the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) — a joint initiative of the United Nations Global Compact, Carbon Disclosure Project, World Resources Institute, Worldwide Fund for Nature and others — with a goal of anchoring effective climate protection on a corporate level to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“It is based on our net zero vision here at Südpack that we are working hard on the sustained improvement of our carbon footprint,” says Valeska Haux, vice president of strategic marketing at Südpack. “We are convinced that it will only be possible to effectively meet the challenges of climate change if industry, institutions, politics and consumers develop an even greater sense of responsibility, join forces and work together on pioneering solutions.”

Hermans adds that “last, but not least,” the company is resolutely committed to further implementing a circular economy for flexible packaging.

“This is because converting post-industrial and post-consumer plastic waste into valuable resources also makes a substantial contribution to reducing carbon footprints,” he says. “Thus, we view chemical recycling as a target-oriented approach. Consequently, we are doing everything we can to speed up the development of this technology and the implementation of the process as a complementary recycling alternative in the market.”

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