Plastics News - Show Daily - October 25, 2022 - 24

24 * Plastics News, October 25, 2022
SHOW DAILY
Kautex brought no machines
to K 2022. Instead the blow
molding equipment maker
focused on how it can help
upcycle materials, such as
watering cans made from
polypropylene recovered from
fi shing nets.
Plastics News photos by Caroline Seidel
KAUTEX
MASCHINENBAU
GMBH
Hall 14,
Booth
A16-A18
Kautex pledges to 'walk
the walk' on sustainability
By Joseph Pryweller
Plastics News Staff
If sustainability is to become
immersed in the plastics industry,
companies need to wake up and
work together to fi nd product solutions,
the head of extrusion blow
molding machine producer Kautex
Maschinenbau said at K 2022.
" When do we start to learn faster
and lead change, " said Thomas
Hartkämper, CEO and chief sustainability
offi cer of Bonn, Germany-based
Kautex, during a news
briefi ng at the trade show. " Plastics
is one of the most sustainable
materials on planet Earth, and
there's no lack of it. But we need
to take action now. "
An abundance of blow molding
equipment companies at K 2022
discussed how their machines are
energy-effi cient or use post-consumer
resin effectively. While energy
effi ciency is important, the
industry will soon reach peak effi
ciency and not be able to reduce
energy much more, said Paulo
Gomes, Kautex chief technology
offi cer.
And while showcasing machine
capabilities to produce post-consumer
resin is also important,
putting that into action with new
products on the market is more
critical, Hartkämper said. " You
must walk the walk and not just
talk the talk, " he said. " It's not just
a matter of being able to use recycled
material. "
Kautex
Maschinenbau
GmbH CEO
Thomas
Hartkämper.
recovered from ocean
waters and were provided
by resin producer
Braskem. Other
solutions at the booth
included a kayak hanging
from
the
ceiling
Kautex is focusing its attention
on upcycling, or reprocessing material
from products already on
the market and using it for new
applications. Hartkämper said
that circular approach and putting
a focus on customers' products
is the more sustainable path
forward.
For its part, Kautex is increasing
its focus on sustainable product
innovation. Scattered around its
K 2022 booth were watering cans
made of polypropylene. The cans
were processed from fi shing nets
that uses as much as
70 percent recycled
content and an intermediate
bulk container
and hydrogen storage
unit with layers of
recycled resin.
Tellingly, the company
was showcasing
no equipment, only
products, at its booth.
That was part of Hartkämper's
vision that
he spelled out at the
show: to create leading
change and added
value for customers.
" Why do we exist? "
he asked. " Because we
can be on the same
team with customers and partners
for sustainability. Only together
can we do that. "
Hartkämper joined Kautex in
2019 and become CEO a year later,
replacing Olaf Weiland, who
joined the company's advisory
board. Hartkämper, formerly with
Husky Injection Molding Systems
and several others, added the title
of chief sustainability offi cer
in October 2021 and has been
working to transform the culture
of Kautex, a world leader in extrusion
blow molding equipment.
He said he realizes there is a
long way to go. While the plastic
watering cans are in the market,
they are still being produced in
small volumes. Collection is an ongoing
issue, Hartkämper said, as is
fi nding partners willing to take the
risks of shifting to recycled resin.
The company plans to go directly
to brand owners as partners.
Gomes said hurdles remain in
using recycling content, no matter
how much companies talk
about it. Those include the higher
prices of recycling vs. virgin material
and process ineffi ciencies
that still must be worked out, he
said. But the future will open up
opportunities, as more companies
embrace the use of post-consumer
resin, Gomes said.
The company has a quest to become
zero-waste in its operations.
It has introduced standardized,
modular machines that reduce
waste and avoid the use of unnecessary
components, Gomes said.
Kautex has moved even further
into digital processes, expanding
its information technology to allow
for more specifi c data to be
collected and analyzed and pinpointing
where waste can be reduced,
Gomes said. Its machines
offer both augmented and virtual
reality to help visualize issues
and get to the core of a problem,
quickly, he said.
Meanwhile, Kautex continues
to expand its footprint in Asia and
Latin America and also operates a
U.S. operation, Kautex Americas,
in Flemington, N.J., and a service
center in Georgia.
But it is in working with partners
to expand the global footprint
of sustainable products that
Hartkämper believes will make the
company a leader in that space.
" There are a lot of opportunities,
and plastics is all around us, " he
said. " It is a matter of mindset to
make plastics the solution to sustainability
and not the problem. "
Paulo Gomes, Kautex chief
technology offi cer for Kautex
Maschinenbau GmbH.

Plastics News - Show Daily - October 25, 2022

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