One of the leading plant-based food and beverage companies expands footprint for innovation and to increase manufacturing capabilities, double business by 2025 compared to 2020
SunOpta, a U.S.-based, global pioneer fueling the future of sustainable, plant-based and fruit-based food and beverages, announced the opening of its new plant-based beverage production facility in Midlothian, Texas, bringing up to 175 new jobs to the area. The new mega facility will manufacture the company’s entire suite of plant-based milks and creamers, along with tea and other products. Various package sizes and configurations will be produced including 16-ounce and 32-ounce packages typically used in food service, shelf-stable retail, and e-commerce for plant-based milk products, and 330-milliliter packages used primarily in high-protein nutritional beverages.
“This plant is an important part of SunOpta’s long-term goals and a powerful next step in our company vision,” said Joe Ennen, CEO of SunOpta. “The fully-equipped and state-of-the-art facility will enhance our manufacturing and supply chain capabilities. In addition, through innovation and our dedication to sustainability, we can respond to the increasing nationwide demand for plant-based food and beverages.”
By 2025, SunOpta aims to double its plant-based business and has invested nearly USD 200 million in its plant-based production capacity in the last three years to support the accelerated growth and developing demand for plant- based milk alternatives. This new Midlothian plant will add capacity and new capabilities to accelerate growth and reduce production costs to serve and meet the growing needs of SunOpta’s customers.
Designed with SunOpta’s sustainability objectives in mind, the new Midlothian plant will reduce carbon emissions, conserve water, effciently utilise power and use recycled materials. With the plant strategically placed in Texas, SunOpta will significantly reduce emissions through lower transportation usage. The plant’s regional location will reduce more than 15 million freight miles annually and save 59 million pounds of carbon emissions. In addition, the facility is equipped with water reuse equipment that can save up to 20 million gallons of water a year, an energy-effcient HVAC system that reduces energy consumption by 45 %, LED lights and water heaters that reduce power usage by 95 %, and offces and labs constructed with at least 40 % recyclable materials.
As of now, the new production facility has 285,000 square feet, with the capacity to expand to 400,000 square feet to take on future growth. When fully expanded, the facility will be SunOpta’s largest plant for plant-based food and beverages. The new Midlothian site is located at 4126 Power Way, Midlothian, Texas 76065. In combination with SunOpta’s plants in California, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, the Texas location creates a competitively advantaged, ‘diamond-shaped’ national network for national distribution.
SunOpta works closely with the City of Midlothian and other key partners to minimise the environmental footprint of the manufacturing process.
Plastipak, a global leader in the design, manufacture and recycling of plastic containers has announced the formal opening of a major recycling investment at its manufacturing site in Toledo, Spain by Don Emiliano García-Page, President of the Castilla-La Mancha Region. The new recycling facility converts PET flake into food-grade recycled PET (rPET) pellets suitable for direct use in new preforms, bottles and containers.
The new recycling plant will produce 20,000 tonnes of food-grade recycled pellet per year and will eliminate recycled resin transport-related emissions since it is co-located at Plastipak’s current preform manufacturing site. The recycling plant is Plastipak’s fifth recycling facility, with other recycling plants located in USA, France, Luxembourg and United Kingdom. In Europe, Plastipak is the largest producer of food-grade rPET, with well over 150,000 tonnes of rPET capacity per annum.
Pedro Martins, Plastipak’s Executive Managing Director Europe, said “The use of rPET is a key tool in reducing our customer’s Scope 3 related emissions and forms an important part of their ESG-packaging related commitments. As well as supporting our customers to reduce their financial obligations under the planned Spanish plastics tax, the plant will also contribute to the meeting the minimum recycled content levels mandated by the Single Use Plastics Directive.”
To support on-site energy generation, the state-of-the-art facility incorporates advanced energy-saving technologies and equipment that includes the rooftop installation of over 1800 photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. The PV panels are expected to generate more than 1339 MWh of electricity per year that will be consumed entirely on-site, saving more than 443 tonnes of CO2 per year through the avoidance of consumption of electricity from the national grid. This is in addition to the CO2 avoided by using the 20,000 tonnes of recycled resin instead of virgin resin.
Refresco opened its new high-bay warehouse at the Calvörde production site in Germany. At this manufacturing facility, Refresco, one of the leading independent providers of beverage solutions in Germany is setting new standards for efficient logistics and future-oriented quality delivery. With a total capacity of more than 41,000 pallet spaces, this is now Refresco’s largest fully automated warehouse.
Refresco invested over 20 million euros in the construction of this new high-bay warehouse. The largest single investment of the German business unit to date, this new warehouse is of strategic importance for the production and logistics at this location for the future. Thanks to the modern conveyor technology and increased storage capacity, Refresco expects significant annual efficiency improvements for the production environment as well as for the transportation of finished products. The new state-of-the-art warehouse gives Refresco the opportunity to continue to grow dynamically with their customers and to acquire new business. In addition, the fully automated logistics system will increase occupational safety at the site.
“The new high-bay warehouse is a milestone for us and makes this one of Refresco’s most advanced locations worldwide,” says Till Alvermann, Managing Director Refresco Germany. “Among other things, the complete automation of our logistical handling allows us to load quickly and safely and improves our competitive advantage. We also strengthen the service level for our customers. We are therefore very pleased to be able to officially commission the high-bay warehouse today.”
Refresco invests a substantial portion of their profit in their manufacturing facilities, to improve and/or expand capacity and technological capabilities. The investment in this new warehouse at a strategically important site for Refresco, is but one example of Refresco’s continued investment in their network of production sites.
At Calvörde, on 800 metres of conveyor line, 42 double aisles of an electric overhead conveyor connect all product lines and the shipping area to the high-bay warehouse. 36 gravity roller conveyors provide up to 400 pallets per hour at twelve loading ramps. The high throughput capacity also enables the simultaneous loading of ten trucks per hour.
Other high-bay warehouses
Refresco has four other high-bay warehouses across their European footprint, located at production sites in the Netherlands, Germany, and France. They are all similar in the way they were designed and are operated: production lines are connected to the warehouse, with the help of a stacker crane finished products are controlled and stored within the racks, and the pre-staging of pallets is fully automated all the way to the docking area, where trucks pull up to quicky and smoothly load beverages for delivery.
Sidel has opened a new hub dedicated to PET recycling. At its unique small-scale PET recycling pilot line in Octeville, France, Sidel will develop its understanding of PET recycling with the aim of giving comprehensive support to the market as it switches to greater use of recycled PET.
Seeking carbon neutrality, the packaging industry is in the middle of a transition period that aims to replace virgin PET with recycled PET. Sidel is engaging with this transition to circular packaging solutions, enabling r-PET to be more widely used. The unique small-scale PET recycling line will allow Sidel to develop advanced knowledge about the recycling of food-contact PET bottles. As Sidel packaging experts assess the impact of additives and primary packaging materials on r-PET resin the facility will become an important reference for raw material producers, recyclers and recycling regulatory organisations. The line will also enable Sidel to further develop its own knowledge, ideas and innovative packaging solutions.
Helping to meet demand for r-PET
Demand for r-PET is increasing and the market is developing as brand owners seek carbon neutral solutions. The amount of recycled PET in packaging globally has increased to 8 % compared to 5 % in 2018. In Europe, the average is already 15 % and is projected to grow to 35 % in 2030.1
“There is a big move towards recycled PET, but demand is outstripping supply,” says Naima Boutroy, Sidel’s Global Packaging Expert. “The market still has a lot to learn and we can provide valuable insights. There is a variability in recycled PET resin grades, and standardisation is still in development. We need to address this to create the best possible finished bottles. Our line will test the recyclability of post-consumer PET bottles from different feed stocks, including additives and caps as well as labels, inks and glue. We will be working with traditional Sidel customers such as brand owners, converters and co-packers, as well as other suppliers like raw material producers, recyclers and regulatory organisations, to enable the scaling-up of r-PET capacity. We can also check any innovations comply with bottle-to-bottle recycling.”
Fully-equipped line to study entire process
Sidel’s new line will take raw material from industrial partners such as sorting facilities, recyclers and brand owners. It will then recreate and study all aspects of the process from bales to flakes including pellets ready to be injected into preform, injection and blow moulding.
Sidel will give the packaging industry the opportunity to access a fully equipped pilot line. This line covers every step of the recycling process: from washing, drying and pellet extrusion, to solid-state polymerisation, including dedicated process and laboratory controls at every step.
Making PET a more sustainable choice
PET is proven to be recyclable and is the only food-safe bottle-to-bottle recycled material, but the market has yet to see the production of standardised r-PET resin grade in high quantities; achieving this could facilitate the market conversion from virgin PET to r-PET. Lifecycle analysis shows that PET already has the best carbon footprint among materials currently available; creating a robust recycling loop to achieve full circularity at scale will make PET an even more sustainable choice.
Sidel to become one-stop shop for r-PET
Sidel’s investment in the r-PET pilot line is unparalleled in the packaging industry and will also empower Sidel in shaping the packaging solutions of tomorrow. The line, which has a holistic bottle-to-bottle approach, is just one of a range of services that Sidel is establishing under the name RePETable™ services. The services will draw upon Sidel’s 40+ years of blowing and packaging expertise, to support brand owners and convertors in producing r-PET bottles through line upgrade solutions, packaging optimisation, blowing process qualification, troubleshooting, r-PET processing training.
The multimillion-pound investment in Britvic’s Rugby factory comes as the company celebrates 35 years in the town
Rugby MP Mark Pawsey has paid a visit to Britvic’s largest production site to officially open the soft drink manufacturer’s most recent canning line.
The state-of-the-art line, already producing internationally known brands including Tango, Pepsi and 7UP, saw Britvic invest a further £26.9 million in the Rugby factory and create 20 new jobs. This brings the total number of employees at the site to over 340.
Based on Glebe Farm Industrial Estate, the factory boasts some of the fastest lines in Europe, with the new canning line turning out around 120,000 cans per hour. Bringing the site’s total to four canning lines, the most recent line boosts total capacity by around 20 %. This takes total production to an impressive rate of just under half a million cans per hour.
Speaking after the visit, Mark said: “It was a great pleasure to be able to open Britvic’s new canning line and see for myself the additional investment by Britvic in their Rugby site. This is great news for our local economy and has created a number of new jobs, including opportunities for apprentices from the local area. Britvic has a 35 year history of manufacturing in Rugby and the fourth canning line shows that the company remains committed to their site and their employees here.”
Mark continued: “We were also able to discuss the need to ensure that packaging remains sustainable and Britvic’s arrangement with Ardagh Group is a great example of minimising the carbon footprint. It is also vital that the sector continues to recycle as much as they can and the work which is ongoing at Britvic both for plastic and aluminium recycling is extremely positive.”
Nigel Paine, Supply Chain Director, added: “Britvic knows that a strong supply chain is fundamental to its continued success. Having created a modern supply chain for the long-term with our Business Capability Programme, we’re now supercharging it with further investment.
“Consumers love the convenience and sustainability credentials of our cans and, with the increased capacity this new line brings, we’ll be able to put even more of them in their hands this summer and in summers to come.”
Aluminium cans are 100 % recyclable and on average contain 74 % recycled material. Many of the cans used by Britvic also benefit from a considerably reduced carbon footprint due to their arrangement with metal packaging manufacturer Ardagh Group’s neighbouring factory, who send cans to Britvic through a tunnel linking the two factories.
New South African facility will produce sustainable nutrition solutions for consumers across the continent
Kerry, one of the world’s leading taste and nutrition companies, officially opened the largest and most advanced taste manufacturing facility on the African continent. The new EUR 38 m facility is located in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and will produce sustainable nutrition solutions that will be consumed across the African continent.
The new 10,000 m2 facility is one of the company’s most environmentally efficient manufacturing sites with numerous sustainability features including low energy usage equipment, solar power generation to reduce consumption from the local grid, waste heat capture and efficient water capture, reuse and reduction.
Kerry is also expanding its Development and Application Centre in Nairobi, Kenya to further support customers in East Africa and the development of sustainable food processing for the continent.