Efficiency & technology

Many opportunities and challenges

Of all the regions, South America is of particular historical importance to ALPLA. Venezuela was the first country outside of Europe in which the company founder Alwin Lehner opened a site more than 50 years ago.

We spoke to Regional Manager Christoph Schneider about ALPLA in South America.

What factors and underlying conditions are specific to the South America region?
South America is a huge region, with around 400 million people in 13 countries. ALPLA currently operates eight production plants and ten in-house plants in four countries – Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela. ALPLA is the market leader in all of these countries and we successfully defend this position and naturally also want to expand it.
The greatest challenge is undoubtedly the ever-changing economic environment – periods of growth and economic crises follow one another in quick succession. This requires us and our employees to be flexible. We need to be able to adapt well to whatever market situation we are presented with if we want to satisfy our customers’ wishes.

There have increasingly been calls for an efficient circular economy in recent months. What impact is this trend having on South America?
The use of recycled materials is becoming more important here. We have been processing recycled PET at our plants for years, albeit not in the same large volumes as in Europe. Nonetheless, demand continues to rise. For example, in early 2018 we rolled out a shampoo bottle in Brazil made of HDPE with a recyclate proportion of 35 per cent – the result of close collaboration with our customer Unilever, a recycling company and our Technical Center in Louveira. This involved a lot of tests and adjustments, and its development took more than a year. It is encouraging to see that we have already embarked on other similar projects. I see this as confirmation of the fact that our customers in South America are open to sustainable packaging solutions. It’s important that there is enough recycling material available. This is currently not the case, but we see an upward trend here too.

What measures is ALPLA implementing to guarantee energy-efficient and sustainable production in the region?
It goes without saying that we adhere to the globally applicable ALPLA standards at our plants. Cutting-edge machinery and best practices from other regions help me and my staff achieve our goals. Specifically speaking, we have implemented measures to optimise water and energy consumption in recent years, and the results are so far very good. By installing closed-loop water cycles, for example, we have reduced our water consumption by up to 80 per cent.

And what social initiatives does ALPLA engage in? Does the spirit of the ALPLA family exist in South America?
Yes, that’s a good way of putting it. We really do have close ties not only with our employees, but with their families too. We organise family days, for example. The families then come to the plants and see what we produce and how we go about it. These initiatives are a good opportunity for us to communicate important topics such as health, safety at work and environmental protection. In a number of countries, we run special development programmes for the children of our employees. It is important to us that we promote and value good training for the youngest members of society. We therefore give young people the opportunity to come to our plants while still at school to get a taste of ALPLA as a potential employer.

FACT BOX

 

  • Countries: 4 (Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela)
  • First plant: 1968 in Venezuela
  • Plants: 18 (8 base plants, 10 in-house)
  • Employees: 1,967

 

Customers: Unilever, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Cargill, Bunge, L’Oréal, SC Johnson, ExxonMobil, Reckitt Benckiser and other