Innovations in flexible packaging

Plásticos Romero is a leading Spanish flexible packaging producer. Abigail Saltmarsh talks to export manager Loli Romero. 

Investment has been ongoing, capacity is set to increase and new products have been launched – packaging producer Plásticos Romero is flexing its muscles. The Spanish manufacturer, which produces, among other products, polyethylene pellets (PE) shopping bags, rubbish sacks and flexible packaging film for food has seen a number of exciting steps forward in recent times, according to export manager Loli Romero.

“We want to increase our market share across Europe and to grow our business in North Africa,” she says. “We have different developments that are helping us to achieve this – helping us to grow the business organically. Currently 80 per cent of our sales are domestic and 20 per cent are from Europe and North Africa. We would like to increase our export levels in the coming years.”

A history in plastic
Plásticos Romero was founded in 1979 when the Romero family from Spain created its first stock in a warehouse of 800 square metres with just one machine. The family went on to acquire extrusion equipment that would allow it to develop its own plastic film from PE pellets, and then a printer, in 1982, to close the entire cycle of production. More than three decades later, Romero Plastics is a national leader and a European player in the industry. The factory stands on a facility of 20,000m2 and employs approximately 250 workers. Each year, it produces more than 35,000 tons of plastic. It has an annual turnover of around €60 million. The operation remains in the Romero family and has a policy of continuous reinvestment and growth. Its main facilities are located at Molina de Segura. It currently has a portfolio of more than 2000 clients, including large retail chains, wholesalers and companies that focus on packaging for the food sector or general industry.

Focus on innovation
Ms Romero says the company’s emphasis on research and development has seen a focus on new materials. For example, the company has been developing a special film for microwave food products. This year (2013) it also launched a new material that is blended with a high content of recycled material; at least 80 per cent of the raw material in the plastic comes from consumer waste. The move towards more environmentally friendly products has seen Plásticos Romero scoop a coveted Blue Angel Eco Label. The first Spanish manufacturer to win one of the German accolades, the company has seen success after key developments in its processes following continuous investment in new technologies over the last few years. Germany launched Blue Angel in 1978 to certify a product is environmentally friendly. It is used by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Plásticos Romero is engaged in a process of gradually moving over more eco-friendly systems and processes. It has also received the OK Compost certification for compostable bags, the AENOR Medio Ambiente for t-shirt bags. Plasticos Romero also works with the LIFE + ECOFLEXOBAG to promote more sustainable materials and processes for the production of shopping bags. Between them, they are considering participating in demonstration tests for Good Practice developed by the project consortium for the Ecodesign, Printing and Manufacturing Process Control of shopping bags.

New facilities in the pipeline
“Because of our emphasis on these new products we are looking at expanding our capacity,” says the export manager. “We are planning to build new facilities of approximately 65,000m2. This will increase our potential production by 10 per cent.” She goes on: “We have a 10-year, mid- to long-term plan to achieve this. At the moment, the first stage of the plan is to build a warehouse. The factory itself will follow.” Meanwhile, investment in the existing facilities continues, she stresses. The company knows the value of maintaining its state-of-the-art machinery. “We are always looking at new machinery and buying new equipment with a higher performance level,” she says. “In 2015, we are planning to buy a new co-extruder machine.”

A strong future
With all its recent achievements, the company is convinced that – despite the current economic climate – it can continue to grow. The focus on recycled materials will continue, as will the development of ever-innovative packaging products and materials. “We do not discount the possibility of growth through acquisition. If we saw an opportunity we would consider it but at the moment there are no plans in that area,” she says. “We do want to increase our market share, however, and we are actively pursuing ways of doing so by continual investment and product development.” 

www. plasticosromero.com

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