Thermoformed packaging company Fabri-Kal Corp. plans to tap into Idaho's farming community to expand its sustainable packaging program.
Fabri-Kal announced plans to invest $50 million in a new facility in Burley, Idaho, which will source local agricultural fiber for use in the company's Greenware packaging line. The thermoformer now uses Ingeo polylactic acid from NatureWorks LLC to make cups, portion containers and other foodservice items.
“The new plant-based ag-fiber material will become part of Fabri-Kal's Greenware packaging line and support our commitment to providing sustainable packaging solutions in the foodservice, consumer product and retail markets,” stated Fabri-Kal vice president of sales and marketing Chuck Garlock in a news release.
Idaho, renowned for its potato industry, is also a big grower of wheat and hay and also counts fruits and vegetables among its crop products. Burley, a city of about 10,500 residents, is in the southern portion of Idaho.
The Burley plant will also support Fabri-Kal's thermoforming push west of the Rocky Mountains, Garlock noted. The Kalamazoo, Mich.-based company runs thermoforming operations in Kalamazoo and in Greenville, S.C., and Hazelton, Pa.
Fabri-Kal said it plans to break ground on the Burley facility at the end of March with the factory fully operational in fall 2015. The 100,000-square-foot building will house design and manufacturing. It initially will employ about 50, with an additional 100 expected to be hired within the next five years. About half of the Burley operation will focus on expansion of thermoforming capacity and the other half will be directed to innovations using the new, undisclosed fiber material.
Fabri-Kal will seek certification for the factory from the International Organization for Standardization as well as Food Safety System Certification.
Fabri-Kal, a family owned company, logged North American thermoforming sales of $390 million last year, which made it the sixth largest thermoformer in North America, according to Plastics News' recent survey of the industry. Its 910 employees operate 39 thermoforming lines based on thin-gauge, in-line and pressure forming technologies. It also does in-house sheet extrusion.