Seven-figure investment for more recycling and sustainability

Echte-Kalefeld (Germany), August 30, 2021 -- The RKW Group is investing a seven-figure sum at its Echte site to produce plastic films with a high recycled content in the future. At the same time, the company is expanding its production capacity in the area of industrial packaging, thus securing jobs in the region. The new five-layer extrusion line is the latest of several investments at the Lower Saxony site.

The plant in Echte, with over 240 employees, is RKW's centre of competence for industrial packaging. Research, development and production of the so-called FFS and ProVent sacks are located here. Other mainstays of production include valve box sacks, transport packaging and garbage bags. Powdery goods such as cement or other building materials, foodstuffs such as sugar, spices or salt, as well as various chemicals are packaged in quantities of mostly 15 to 25 kilograms in FFS bags and the ProVent developed in Echte.

The new extrusion line will be used for the industrial packaging product group: "We want to offer our customers more sustainable packaging solutions for industrial packaging with new formulations. This includes, for example, a steadily growing proportion of recycled plastics in the packaging. State-of-the-art equipment like this enables us to do that," says Site Director Markus Brinkmann.

During development, RKW keeps the full product life cycle in mind. Accordingly, in addition to robustness and particularly high protection of the goods, the full recyclability of the films is also very important. This is already ensured by the purity of the material; the films produced are made exclusively of PE. In order to increase the reuse of recyclates without any loss of quality, innovative recipes have to be developed especially for this five-layer extrusion line. Older lines with only three extruders are severely limited in this respect. In addition to the increased use of recyclates, the higher energy efficiency of the plant and the lower production waste also contribute to the sustainability of production. RKW thus makes important contributions to a circular economy. 

Sustainability at all levels

Sustainability plays a central role at RKW - and not only in the products. All of the group's sites in Western Europe use electricity exclusively from renewable energy sources. In an energy-intensive industry such as plastics, this switch saves a good 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, or around 60 per cent of RKW's direct emissions worldwide compared to 2019.The other sites are also gradually being converted to green electricity.

To ensure that overall energy requirements are reduced, RKW is focusing on modernisation in production processes and on new, more efficient machines and cooling systems with up-to-date measurement and control technology. At the same time, more and more lighting systems in the factories are being converted to LED. RKW 2020 has invested around 650,000 euros in energy efficiency measures of this kind alone.

The commitment to climate protection plays a major role in RKW's sustainability strategy. But the company is also committed to socially relevant issues such as equality, diversity and inclusion. In July 2021, the owners, Board of Management and top management signed the "Charta for Diversity". Sustainability is a task for society as a whole and it is firmly anchored in the RKW Group. It also creates potential for economic growth, as the investments at RKW in Echte underline.