Retal Plastec’s equipment investments boost sustainability for Italian beverage industry
15 Nov 2023 — As one of Europe’s largest exporters of bottled water, the Italian mineral water industry is expected to grow over the next five years, boosted by Italians reportedly consuming more bottled water per capita than any other European market. Combine this data with the knowledge that the country’s bottled fruit and vegetable juice market is already standing at a reported €1.6 billion (~US$1.7 billion), and it’s clear this is a period of progress for beverage packaging producers in Italy.
To continue to satisfy a growing demand for both preforms and blown bottles, both with suitable closures, one plastic packaging producer is focused on sustainable growth through strategic investment in new technology. Sustainability is a common thread that runs through all the decisions made at Retal Plastec, both in the environmental and business sense.
With the advantage of being managed on a day-to-day basis by a team that has largely stayed the same since 2006 (the year of foundation), coupled with the support of its multinational group owner Retal, the facility is a balance of established and progressive.
Retal Plastec is located in the Italian city of Ascoli Piceno, where its facility employs 20 people to produce the preforms and bottles it manufactures each year. Initially founded as a manufacturer of PET bottles, its customers’ changing demands prompted the addition of preform production too with the installation of its first injection molding machine in 2014.
Acquired by the multinational Retal group in 2016 as the second of its plants in Italy and one of 13 across nine countries in Europe and North America, Retal Plastec installed its second injection molding machine in 2017. Continual investment and development have helped Retal Plastec to maintain its service to customers across Italy, many of whom have been with the company since 2006.
Noemi Gatti, finance controller at Retal Plastec, explains how this continual investment characterizes the long-term success of the operation: “We’re proud of the strong relationships we have developed with our customers and strength we have as a team. We offer a complete packaging solution to our customers, and we know that this is relevant and valued as we talk to them often.”Retal Plastec’s new blower machine for plastic beverage bottle production.
Complete packaging solution
Retal Plastec augments its team with modern equipment, including its latest blower machine, which has been chosen thanks to the excellent service of a previous model. Gatti continues: “We have a high level of automation here, which makes for a great combination with our skilled people.
“We take care to look after our people and our equipment. We recently invested in a new SIAPI blower machine that we chose because our previous SIAPI machine has been fantastic — not a moment’s trouble since we installed it in 2013. This machine is great for our needs, so when we wanted a new machine for smaller lots of customized production, we knew where to start.”
The new blower machine offers mold changes in less than two hours, so small volumes of specific or customized bottles can be completed in an impressively quick time. Gatti says: “It’s a very flexible machine. Flexibility is very important to us as we know that customers value the speed, reliability and agility we provide every time. We knew we needed to have a blower machine that allowed for quick changes so we could guarantee smaller volumes of non-standard products.”
“As well as our portfolio of standard products, we can manufacture bespoke bottles like 250 ml bottles for the growing 100% fruit juice sector and the lovely vinegar glaze bottles that need a particular neck finish. We can customize the shape of the bottle, the neck finish, the color — plus we offer a huge range of closures, so there’s always one that fits perfectly.”
Caps and closures
Retal Plastec is able to offer this wide range of closures due to its buying volumes of pallets from suppliers that do not work with smaller customers, meaning that it acts as a reseller for closures, guaranteeing the complete service.
The energy efficiency of the new SIAPI blower machine brings the Retal Plastec understanding of what sustainability means full circle. As a modern machine that has a reduced energy requirement as well as being quick and easy to maintain, the machine is future-focused.
Giampaolo Gatti, general manager at Retal Plastec concludes: “Our goal is to always say yes to our customers. Since the very beginning, in 2006, our company mission has always been: ‘You choose the shape, we will work out how to blow it.’”
“We always find a way to get the preform, bottle or cap they want to them in the volumes they need. To achieve this, we work as a team and utilize our equipment, understanding of the market and strong network.”
“By adding the new blower machine to our production facilities, we have taken another step forward.”
By Emma-Jane Batey
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