Food and luxury items will rev up the demand for security solutions
Stephane Daveau, the CEO of Polyart Group is excited about the group’s direct presence in India, the new IML demo centre and the partnership with Edgyn, its European partner for security solutions. “India is developing very fast, especially in packaging, so multiplied by population, the potential and opportunities are enormous,” Daveau says in his interaction with PrintWeek
13 Mar 2023 | By PrintWeek Team
PrintWeek (PW): What stands out when you look back on key moments for Polyart Group in 2022?
Stephane Daveau (SD): We have increased Polyart Group’s turnover by 14%. As sustainability is a crucial topic for our group, all production sites were certified by Ecovadis in 2022. Of course, the opening of Arjobex Polyart India in early 2022 was an important event for the group.
PW: The two years before 2022 were volatile. What were the lessons learnt? How has it been for you, expansion or status quo?
SD: We used the two difficult years to design and launch new products. In the meantime, we grew our position in the labelling segment. We also reviewed our strategic plan to match the new market conditions better.
PW: What does the concept of “customer development” mean to you? What is the coolest customer development case study you can share with us?
SD: Customer development means: listening to our customers, anticipating their needs and being their solution provider. The most important thing is to be their preferred partner for their business development. We have to be their first choice. Our in-mould label (IML) centre in India was a big step toward growing our position by providing tangible benefits of our HDPE films versus existing PP to the blow moulders and brand owners.
PW: The K 2022 show in Dusseldorf and Labelexpo in India concluded on a high note. Three important exhibitions in Europe are lined up in 2023 and 2024, Labelexpo Europe in Brussels plus Interpack/Drupa in Dusseldorf. What should we expect from you at these shows?
SD: Sustainability is our prime concern, and so PCR faces stock labels and IML blow technology to support the mono-component HDPE packaging. We want to be the best-in-class in our market segments and make PE container recyclability more accessible.
Digital is another concern with a full range of laser dry toner and water-based inkjet range: BS5609 for the chemical industry, direct food contact range for the food industry.
In the security space, we have a new partnership with Edgyn, a leading security solution provider, to propose securities solutions in Asia.
PW: Are paper, paperboard and label converters still managing business and manufacturing operations with industrial-age practices despite being a part of the knowledge age? Is there a knowledge gap in our industry? How do we bridge it? How do we convince Gen-Z about the clout of ink on paper?
SD: This knowledge age is at a position where people eat packaged food, drink water from labelled bottles, and buy packaged items, or labelled garments, even if it is bought online. So, we will still need labels and packaging for a very long time.
It is still an industrial age where we need to put ink onto substrates and surfaces, especially in India, where packaging is booming and will continue booming for a while.
Education is vital and has been in all ages. We should spread awareness about our industries in schools and universities and invest in apprenticeships and scholarships.
PW: India is a price-sensitive market, yet the trends are forever changing. As a mass producer of products, how does one stay relevant, and what product innovations can one offer for consumers to create trends or disrupt the marketplace?
SD: We are not mass producers but speciality ones. As such, we must be innovative and disruptive to convince early adopters to move on to our solutions. In India, the most important is to bring differentiation and competitiveness to a solution. If you get a valuable technical advantage in a market, customers are ready to pay a premium for it. This is our core business. Our sustainability approach is also a competitive advantage.
PW: The F&B packaging market in India is expected to grow from USD 33.2 billion in 2020 at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 9.3% until 2026. We did a basic calculation that the consumption of packaged foods in India rose by 200% during the previous ten years, from 4.3 kg to 8.6 kg per person per year. Additionally, the beverage industry accounts for around 23% of all PET applications in packaging. The point is, consumption patterns are high in India. How does one manage a circular economy under such circumstances?
SD: Good question. As plastic manufacturers, Polyart Group is very concerned with environmental responsibility. A circular economy is key to maintaining a sustainable industry and planet. We developed the first synthetic paper with 30% PCR, r-Polyart, to reuse some post-consumer waste.
Infrastructures must come from the states (collection, sorting plants, subsidies). Still, the industry must take its share by placing recollection boxes in department stores (like in the UK), for instance, or introducing eco-designs. I want to point out that our IML PE label is 100% compatible with PE containers. Many drinks can be bottled in PE bottles, for instance, iced tea, orange juice, or milk. The whole container bottle can be recycled, and the labels too can be recycled to make more bottles and labels.
PW: How do you address greenwashing as a part of your sustainability / circular economy communications?
SD: We have third-party certifications that guarantee our sustainability policy. For instance Ecovadis. Our UK factory was gold. Ecovadis found that the facility in the UK was in the top 2% of audited factories in the plastic industry in the UK in terms of overall performance on CSR. Polyart is also APR certified in the US. Our films are fully recyclable in PE containers. We are also looking for certification from Recyclass in Europe next year.
PW: The structural design of packaging, which embraces a pack’s shape, texture, materials and product delivery capability, has mostly stayed the same. How should the industry approach structural packaging innovation? Through new product formats; new offerings like paneer and craft beer; eco-friendly, increased shelf life - MAP (modified atmospheric packaging)?
SD: As paper converters, and synthetic paper manufacturers, we are working on the plastic-to-paper trends we see on the market - new substrates, like barrier coatings on papers - and finding out new functionalities we can bring.
We launched Fiberskin, an innovative paper for short-term outdoor applications. It is paper, but thanks to our proprietary coating, it withstands outdoor exposure for applications like signage or nursery tags. And it is biodegradable, like paper.
At the same time, plastic does offer huge advantages (weight, flexibility of use, shapes) and barrier properties. So, we are working on sustainable plastic substrates with recycled waste content and new materials, bio-based or compostable.
PW: The Government of India has set a vision of a USD five-trillion economy. In your view, what are the opportunities for the print and packaging industry - and your organisation - in India?
SD: India is developing very fast, especially in packaging, so multiplied by population, the potential and opportunities are enormous.
Personalised and customised packaging solutions are exciting and have potential. There are barrier papers, sustainable materials, and mono-component packaging that offers sustainable solutions. IML is suitable for long runs as it provides a longer setting time. India is perfect for that.
At the same time, such development comes with safety issues, especially in the food and luxury items, which will rev up the demand for security labels and authentication solutions. That is the reason for our partnership with Edgyn, our European partner for security solutions, but also local cooperation will help us to be a key partner in India.
PW: In India, too many business owners talk about their machines and investments; very few focus on soft power. For example, culture, team-building, delegating, housekeeping, plus how to get optimum conversion costs and be much more efficient. Your view?
SD: We are a multicultural company which is a strong asset. Delegation at the local level is a key driver for us. Sharing best practices between our different entities in Europe, the US, and Asia is also a part of our DNA. Investing in committed and open-minded people is important to me.
Not only the whole container bottle can be recycled, but also the labels can be reused