On the eve of significant changes in its domestic market, Germany made the headlines on a number of occasions in the last month for a variety of reasons. Four years after closing its own packaging compliance scheme Eko-Punkt, Remondis acquired Duales System Deutschland Holding (DSD) and re-entered the dual systems market, which now has several participants vying for market share across the country.

Germany launches a new Packaging Act next month that requires all businesses placing goods on the domestic market to register with the central packaging registry, with the aim to improve recycling and prevent packaging waste.

Celebrating its 150th birthday, Germany’s KHS pointed to on-going growth in the PET market and said that its FreshSafe-PET coating process is gaining particular attention in light of the Packaging Act for use by juice and nectar bottlers. The Plasmax coating is said to make bottle-to-bottle recycling possible.

Meanwhile, a Berlin start-up called Share has become the first beverage producer in Germany to sell its water in PET bottles made of 100 per cent recyclate. The product is retailing in supermarket chain REWE and share has worked with KHS Corpoplast.

Despite the media backlash against plastics packaging, the German Plastics Packaging Industry Association (IK) said that sales in the country are expected to rise by more than 5 per cent this year with volumes also surging. IK pointed to generally good economic conditions in the country and strong growth in pouches, carrier bags and big bags, along with PET bottles.

The River Rhine, however, has been causing some problems in the petrochemicals industry due to its low water level in recent months, with BASF claiming production cutbacks and higher transportation costs on the back of limitations in sea freight.

While the European Parliament was busy voting to ban plastics cutlery and plates, cotton buds, straws and balloon sticks in its assault on so-called single-use plastics across the union, the UK finance minister was outlining plans for a tax on any plastics packaging companies failing to reach 30 per cent content by April 2022.

According to industry consultant Wood Mackenzie, the tax would be costly and technically challenging to implement. Head of PET Philip Marshall said that to ensure the inclusion of 30 per cent recycled PET the material would need to be collected and reused, which remains one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.

Industry association European Bioplastics supports the EU ban on single-use plastics, adding that biodegradable certified compostable plastics provide an organically recyclable alternative, but the association will be keen to seek further information on the UK tax plans.

As the vision of a circular economy grows, the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN) has called for a collaborative effort to formulate a comprehensive US strategy to achieve ambitious 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging goals.

Starting in Germany with recent M&A news, Krones has acquired MHT Holding, a provider of injection moulding tools and services to the PET industry, which closes a gap in Krones’ PET value chain by extending the company into preform tooling. And BC Jindal Group bought Treofan Holdings in Germany, a manufacturer of BOPP films, to broaden its portfolio of flexible films.

In other acquisitions US-based Tekni Plex bought PE film converter Beyers Plastics in Belgium, Reflex Group acquired Fusion Flexibles and its subsidiary Mercury Packaging after both went into administration and Sidel completed a deal to buy Italian PET design house and converter PET Engineering.

Thai petrochemical giant Indorama Ventures Public Company (IVL) bought a 74 per cent share in Egypt’s Medco Plast for Packing and Packaging Systems, a manufacturer of plastics bottles and packaging based in Giza, for $47 million. The deal is IVL’s second purchase in Egypt this year after it bought Egyptian Indian Polyester Company (EIPET) in June.

Australian converter Secos Group completed a review of its Stellar Films Australia subsidiary last month, and confirmed that it plans to relocate its plastics film production from Melbourne to Malaysia. The business unit has been underperforming for some time as a result of cost pressures caused by increasing energy and freight costs.

And finally…

A virtual reality prototyping system called LEVR is being rolled out by US-based R&D/Leverage, which the company says allows customers to create an almost infinite amount of possibilities almost instantaneously and even create physical samples.
The company is inviting customers to wear the headset and use the controls to interact with prototype bottle designs in a virtual reality world where anything can be changed rapidly.

The potential is unreal (pun intended) but customers will need to see it with their own eyes.