New packaging cuts CO2 by 75%
Uzin Utz Nederland BV (formerly Unipro) is the Houweling Group’s premier client that buys bottles as well as jerrycans in 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic. Packaging supplier Houweling Group already had bottles made from PCR HDPE in its range, but has now also developed jerrycans from the same material. Substituting today’s packaging for these two products provides Uzin Utz Nederland with up to a 75% reduction in CO2 and up to a 95% saving in the use of fossil fuels.
Uzin Utz Nederland, a global manufacturer of materials for laying, maintaining and refurbishing all kinds of floors, operates as sustainably as possible. The products they sell are packaged in containers including bottles and jerrycans. Houweling Group, a group of several businesses, including a packaging distributor, already had bottles made from 100% PCR HDPE in its range. Houweling Group developed jerrycans from the same material for Uzin Utz Nederland. Uzin Utz Nederland now uses 500, 750, 1000 and 1500-millilitre bottles and 10-litre jerrycans. The packaging is made from HDPE consisting of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic packaging waste.
Post-consumer recycled HDPE
The plastic packaging waste from Plastic Heroes and PMD (plastic, metals and drinks cartons) in the Netherlands is collected, sorted, cleaned and processed to obtain granulated material. This process is now set up in such a way that plastics can be sorted by their specific properties and subsequently processed that a high-grade raw material is produced. PCR HDPE is therefore also equivalent to, and used just as new, so-called virgin HDPE. Quality Circular Polymers (QCP), with a factory in Geleen, the Netherlands, where the PCR HDPE granulated material is made, has calculated that choosing PCR HDPE achieves a 75% cut in CO2 compared with virgin HDPE*. In addition, using PCR HDPE for each bottle or jerrycan means a reduction of up to 95% in the use of fossil fuels**.
Uzin Utz Nederland was convinced on paper about the advantages of converting from the current HDPE packaging to PCR HDPE. Using its knowledge and expertise, Houweling Group developed two series with jerrycan samples that met all the packaging expert’s technical wishes, requirements and tests. Uzin Utz Nederland was also then able to test the samples in practice. The packaging has undergone tests including transport, drop and label adhesion, and passed them all. The decision to make bottles and jerrycans from PCR material was then made quickly.
Although Uzin Utz Nederland’s products are produced in the “greenest” factory in the Netherlands, the organisation is convinced that there is always room for improvement. “When building our business premises, as well as when choosing the packaging for our products, we focus on consumption, collaboration and innovation. These three elements all emerged during discussions with our supplier, the Houweling Group,” explains Uzin Utz Nederland’s buyer Gert-Jan Slotboom. When the Houweling Group introduced its bottles made from PCR material, this immediately caught Uzin Utz Nederland’s attention.
Waste is raw material
Frank Houweling, account and export manager at the Houweling Group, says: “The bottles were the first evidence for us that PCR HDPE products were viable, but we are also developing other forms of packaging at the same time. We are looking for clients who are willing to carry out further tests with us on packaging of this type.” Uzin Utz Nederland showed interest in the jerrycans and the evidence again emerged from this collaboration that used plastic can indeed now enter the chain as a valuable raw material.
The Houweling Group is confident about the possibilities for closing the chain. The family business has already been collecting used packaging for years. The packaging is reconditioned – cleaned and where necessary repaired – and used for a second, third or sometimes even a fourth life. Packaging that is no longer suitable for re-use were recycled by Houweling. Frank Houweling: “That recycling process within our business has now been taken over by SUEZ, but we were of course at the forefront when a high-quality raw material emerged due to a more specific sorting process. Our Business Development Manager Dennis Jongmans then went to QCP and, in collaboration with them and several of our manufacturers, we subsequently went on to develop new packaging from recycled material.”
Uzin Utz Nederland is part of the German Uzin Utz Group, a family firm with global ambitions. This group of businesses is characterised by “Gründlichkeit” (thoroughness) and a warm, personal corporate culture.
It seems in practice that we often acquire family-owned businesses. A sustainable business operation also means that you want to build sustainable relationships with your suppliers and family businesses offer us quality, security and reliability.
Gert-Jan Slotboom, buyer at Uzin Utz Netherlands
Not entirely by chance did the Houweling Group also opt for a family business to manufacture the jerrycans. In the end, Uzin Utz Nederland and Houweling then also went in person to the factory at Siepe GmbH in Germany. There they were able to see the production of jerrycans and also give final approval to the colour.
Frank Houweling: “In the end, the process from the initial exploratory talks on these PCR products to approval, took six months. Without Uzin Utz Nederland, development of the jerrycan would not have been as quick.” Gert-Jan Slotboom adds: “We want to lead by example in the market. Uzin Utz Nederland and Houweling remain at the leading edge of developments with this collaboration and we are proud of that.”
* based on the Declaration Environmental Footprint of Quality Circular Polymers ** based on the composition of Houweling Group bottles and jerrycans listed