Erema Group GmbH is planning to expand as it focuses on helping recyclers upgrade to meet new quality demands.
At Fakuma, the Austrian firm is highlighting the need for recyclers to have equipment with more constant quality. Meanwhile, it's planning for what Chief Sales Officer Michael Heitzinger calls a big investment in more factory space in the next two years.
The company has seen sales grow from 95 million euros ($110 million) in 2014 to 155 million euros ($179.6 million) in its most recent fiscal year, ending March 31. Heitzinger expects continued growth thanks to a variety of factors, including the European Union's plastics strategy and plans by large consumer product companies and retailers to use more recycled content in packaging.
Details of Erema's expansion were not available. Heitzinger said the owners gave their initial approval in September.
At Fakuma, Erema is exhibiting its Corema recycling and compounding technology, which it will discuss at an Oct. 17 joint news conference with German recycler and environmental service firm Interseroh Dienstleistungs AG (Hall B1, Booth 1125).
Interseroh, which uses Corema equipment, is a unit of Berlin-based recycling company Alba Group plc & Co. KG.
Ansfelden, Austria-based Erema continues to push equipment aimed at improving the quality of recyclate.
"The recyclers have to look carefully at the quality they are producing and for constant quality," Heitzinger said. "If the quality at the end of the day is not the same, you will not find a customer like Ikea, you like not find a customer like Coca-Cola, you will not find a customer like Danone that say, 'OK, I want to work with your material.'"
He was interviewed Sept. 25 at Erema's Discovery Day at its North American technical center in Ipswich, Mass.
Also at Fakuma, Erema is presenting its Refresher odor-control technology with its Intarema TVEplus line, its Re360 manufacturing execution system for real-time production and machine data and its Powerfil business unit for filter systems.
The company's Pure Loop GmbH subsidiary, which supplies integrated shredder and extruder equipment, is also in the Erema booth.
Additionally, Erema will be exhibiting its new KeyCycle business unit, which launched earlier this year and provides engineering and integration services for plastics recycling.
The company wants to show that recycling technology is improving, said Martin Baumann, vice president of sales for Erema North America. He pointed to how technology like Erema's preconditioning equipment, better mixing and continuous filtration have made big improvements in pellet quality from recycling film from supermarkets and shrink wrap.
It's part of what Erema executives said are increasingly sophisticated demands in the recycling stream.
Clemens Kitzberger, business development manager for post-consumer applications, told the Discovery Day audience that attention in recycling has shifted. Twenty years ago, it was enough to produce and sell a clean pellet. Now the focus is on the needs of final products, he said.
"Nowadays, nobody is interested in [just] a clean recycled pellet," he said. "They are interested in the end product."
That point was echoed by Interseroh Managing Director Manica Ulcnik-Krump, who said customers are demanding more stable recycled material, even as they do not want to pay more for recycled resin than for virgin materials.
"Today, customers really know what they want, and what they want is stable material, stable supply and quality," Ulcnik-Krump said.
Heitzinger said the business outlook for the recycling industry is good. He said Erema could see 8 percent growth yearly, driven also by China's ban on recycling imports creating more demand for recycling capacity where material is generated.
"We can have some short-term changes with price on virgin materials, some struggles between the U.S. and China and the China ban, that can come up, but in general, recycling will grow because the demand is a necessity," Heitzinger said.
Erema estimates that to reach the European plastics recycling goals of 55 percent by 2030, more than 10 million tons of recyclate will have to be used in end products, compared with about 3 million tons today.
"To achieve this, we as raw material manufacturers, producers, processors and recyclers together have to identify new markets, make use of previously untapped sources of plastic … and implement even stronger design for recycling in the long term," Erema CEO Manfred Hackl said in a statement.