Axion Polymers, a recycled materials manufacturer in England, wants to extend its business to Asia by setting up partnerships with a handful of Chinese and Asian compounders.
The company sees rising interest in using more carbon friendly materials in the small-appliance factories of Asia, mirroring the interest shown among its European customers making large household appliances like washing machines, said Keith Freegard, sales director of the Manchester, England-based firm.
Axion has started working with one unidentified Chinese compounder in Cixi, and is looking for three or four other potential partners in Asia that can meet its quality specifications, Freegard said.
Freegard was interviewed at the China Replas 2009 conference, held Nov. 5-7 in Hangzhou.
Initially, Axion will target European and Western firms exporting from Asian factories, he said.
Our aim is to continue selling in Europe, but when the question comes up, 'Oh, can you supply my factor in Beijing or my factory in Vietnam?' I can say we have five processing partners in China and we have a manager on site who manages the raw material and the quality, he said.
The details of potential partnerships still have yet to be worked out, but Freegard said they would likely be toll compounding relationships. Axion would supply raw materials from its existing European sources.
We're looking for people with their own technology to make sure they can produce the polymer to the same quality we do in Europe, he said. If they can't do that, we'll have to decide which bits of our know-how in our factory in Manchester we might be prepared to transfer over.
Axion might, in time, set up its own factory, but that decision is likely a few years away, he said.
He said there is strong interest among European consumers for eco-friendly appliances, and using recycled materials could help set one brand apart from another.
The company's Manchester factory supplies materials to European factories that make large appliances, but most of the small-appliance manufacturing has shifted to Asia, Freegard said.
He sees potential for the Asia business to surpass the European business in volume. The Manchester factory currently produces about 15.4 million pounds of material per year, a relatively small amount in recycling, he said.
Axion gets its materials from post-consumer streams like refrigerators in Europe, and produces a 100 percent recycled grade material.
The company claims the recycled materials can save 93 percent of the greenhouse-gas emissions in manufacturing compared with virgin materials.
Copyright 2009 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.