Circular Economy, RETRAY Certification / 30.04.2024

ECOSENSE in Focus: interview with CECILIA GUARDADO NORIEGA, Marketing Director Trays, Food Packaging Division Klöckner Pentaplast.

ECOSENSE in Focus: interview with CECILIA GUARDADO NORIEGA, Marketing Director Trays, Food Packaging Division Klöckner Pentaplast.

1.-How was the company founded and what are the main characteristics that define it today?


Klöckner Pentaplast (kp) was founded in 1965, and since then we have continued to deliver strong growth with game-changing innovation and service excellence as we work towards our goal of becoming the world’s leading sustainable packaging solutions company. 

With the acquisition of LINPAC in 2017, we took our customer proposition to a new level. We became an even better research and development (R&D) powerhouse and a plastic films business with a full portfolio of new technologies, solutions and formulations that can anticipate market trends, solve customer problems and help build brand identities.

Focused on delivering its vision: The Sustainable Protection of Everyday Needs, kp is a global leader in rigid and flexible packaging and specialty film solutions, serving the pharmaceutical, medical device and protein markets, amongst others. With a broad and innovative portfolio of packaging and product films and services, kp plays an integral role in the customer value chain by safeguarding product integrity, product brand reputation and improving sustainability. kp’s “Investing in Better” sustainability strategy solidifies its commitment to achieving ten clear targets for long-term improvement. kp has earned a gold rating from EcoVadis, the leading platform for environmental, social and ethical performance ratings, putting kp in the top 3% of companies rated in the manufacturing of plastics products sector. Founded in 1965 kp has 30 plants in 18 countries and employs over 5,600 people.


2.-How does RETRAY certification fit into your sustainability plans?


We believe that sustainability, and all it entails, will drive the long-term success of our sector, so requires a long-term approach. We see this in a number of ways, such as major players in the plastic packaging sector striving to minimise waste generation, reduce reliance on natural resources and embrace renewable energy options. 

Certification and traceability is built into our supply chain with SAP traceability and third party associations to ensure safety and quality of end products made with recycled PET.


3.-What other innovation projects have you developed or are you developing?


We recently launched kp Infinity®, a new Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) packaging solution that is an ideal alternative to polystyrene (XPS/EPS) single use foodservice packaging, now banned in the UK as well as many other countries within EU. kp Infinity® is fully recyclable in existing PP waste infrastructure and brings many other benefits such as microwaveability and being cool to the touch. 

kp Infinity® is also lighter than many of the other alternative packaging materials aiming to fill the gap that now-banned EPS leaves behind, lowering the carbon cost of transportation, and is produced using less energy and water. In short, it’s a prime example of accomplishing more with less. 

Another important example of our approach to sustainability can be seen in our development of kp Elite®, a recyclable modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) tray for fresh protein applications, manufactured from up to 100% post-consumer recycled PET (rPET).

Our kp Elite® washable adhesive rPET tray has been evaluated based on the RecyClass Letter of Compatibility design for recycling and scored Class A for compatibility within the clear PET recycling stream in the UK and the EU.  

In the same vein, we are working on a circular packaging concept that combines three breakthrough innovations.

The first component is kp Elite®.  The second is kp Zapora®, a ground-breaking design for fresh protein trays which removes the need for unpleasant absorbent pads and their pad adhesive. kp Zapora® is a fully recyclable padless tray designed by kp and made with up to 100% rPET.

The recyclability level of kp Zapora® PET trays combined with kp Elite® has been evaluated based on the RecyClass “Letter of compatibility” Design for Recycling. Together, they scored Class A, the best mark possible for compatibility within the clear PET recycling stream in the UK and EU.

Add to this our ability to now substitute rPET from bottles with the market-first kp 100% rPET Tray2Tray® tray made exclusively from recycled food trays and you unlock a fully closed loop packaging system. 

The originality of this fully circular prototype is the addition of 100% rPET kp Tray2Tray® material to kp Elite® and kp Zapora® currently made with up 100% rPET mainly from bottles.


4.-What do you think about the media fight against plastic and the plastic tax?


Regulations play a pivotal role in shaping our sustainability goals, particularly concerning the incorporation of recycled content in our packaging. However, we have been using recycled content in our products for decades.  Recycled content is integral to our identity and mindset. We design our products with scalability in mind, ensuring they are conducive to widespread recycling while guaranteeing safety and quality standards.

Regulatory mandates often necessitate adherence to certification standards such as those provided by schemes like RecyClass, RETRAY, or AENOR which are based on EN-15343:2008 standard and guarantee traceability and transparency. These certifications validate the safety, quality, and environmental sustainability of our packaging materials, reinforcing our commitment to regulatory compliance and industry best practice.


5.- What are your objectives for 2024? 


As we work towards our goal of becoming the world’s leading sustainable packaging solutions company. It’s difficult to limit ourselves to 2024 because sustainability requires a long term approach.

Closing the loop at scale requires collaborative effort and innovation across the packaging value chain. We actively engage with our partners to ensure the seamless integration of valuable materials into our packaging solutions, thereby advancing circularity and sustainability goals. Increased and improved quality collection and sorting of packaging are the starting point for initiatives like our kp Tray2Tray®.


6.- What are the prospects for the sector in the coming years? 


We are on a challenging and exciting journey. As I said before, we cannot afford to think short-term because creating true environmental and cultural change takes time. 

From developing innovative new products to collaborating with partners around the world, we ensure we’re doing everything we can to create a lasting transformation for both our planet, and the people that inhabit it.