With its acquisition of a significant minority stake in the Slovak company Panara, the global packaging specialist, the Alpla Group, is stepping up its activities in the research field of alternative, sustainable raw materials for packaging. Panara is focusing on the development of fully bio-based and biodegradable plastics.
Alpla is pursuing a holistic approach which requires that all of its product areas and future packaging solutions are being developed with a functioning circular economy in mind. Hence, selecting materials that are suitable for bio-based and biodegradable packaging. In pursuit of its mission, Alpla is investing in Panara and is acquiring a significant minority share in this Slovak company specialized in the development of bioplastics.
Alpla chairman Günther Lehner, who is responsible for sustainability, circular economy, technology development, and innovation, says, “Panara has a lot of experience in the area of bio-based plastics. In acquiring a stake in the company and partnering with Panara, we want to leverage this expertise and make the transfer of knowledge possible for our applications and customers.”
Fully bio-based and compostable plastic
Panara has been conducting research in the area of biopolymers since 2006. This involves its partnering with the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava and the Center for Applied Research of Environmentally Friendly Polymeric Materials (CEPOMA) in Nitra. Just recently, the company introduced a bioplastic to the market under the brand name Nonoilen which is made entirely using renewable resources, is recyclable, and can be completely industrially composted at the end of its life cycle. The material is also temperature-resistant and stable.
Christian Zmölnig, director of Corporate Research and Innovation at Alpla, sees the collaboration as another step in the direction of the packaging of the future, “As a technology leader in the area of packaging materials, we engage in ongoing work with partners to develop new raw materials that will minimize carbon dioxide emissions as well as resource consumption.”
Advancing the circular economy
Acquiring a stake in Panara is in line with Alpla’s strategic focus of increased investment in the circular economy. The four Rs Replace, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle are crucial in order to advance forward-looking activities and to identify areas of action.
The “Replace research field” comprises research into and the use of alternative, bio-based and recyclable materials.
Alpla is already involved in the development of paper-based bottles with the company Paboco, for example, and has unveiled a home-compostable coffee capsule to the public.
Reduce focuses on an ongoing reduction in material consumption, Reuse is all about optimizing the properties of plastic bottles for reuse systems, and Recycle addresses the overarching objective of keeping as much plastic as possible in the recycling cycle.
Alpla is one of the companies involved in plastic packaging. Around 21,600 employees worldwide produce custom-made packaging systems, bottles, caps, and molded parts at 178 sites across 45 countries. The high-quality packaging is used in a wide range of areas, including for food and drinks, cosmetics and care products, household detergents, washing and cleaning agents, pharmaceutical products, engine oils, and lubricants.
Alpla operates its own recycling plants for PET and HDPE in Austria, Poland, and Spain, and in the form of joint ventures in Mexico and Germany. Other projects are being realized across the globe.
The company Panara was established in 2001 as a production and trading company of PE plastics films. In 2006 the company specialized in bioplastics with the goal to develop biodegradable – bio-based blends for different types of plastic processing. The core business of the company is currently focused on R&D activities with the scope of the highest environmental level in the field of plastics –multicomponent biobased and biodegradable blends based on PHA and PLA polymers and the production of those blends.