Storopack – More Than Just Packaging
Storopack is an international family-run company and leading service provider for flexible and tailored protective packaging and technical moulded parts.
Established in 1874, Storopack has been operating under the name Storopack Hans Reichenecker GmbH since 1959. Headquartered in Germany near Stuttgart, the company’s areas of core competence lie in first-class packaging solutions and moulded parts.
The Packaging Division with locations in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, focuses on tailored protective packaging. While the Moulding Division, with manufacturing facilities in Europe and China, produces technical moulded parts from expanded foams for a variety of industries.
With nearly 70 sites in 19 countries around the world, Storopack is always close to its customers. Its national locations operate independently, supporting its customers quickly, flexibly, and locally.
The needs of the British market are served by Storopack UK, which is part of the Packaging Division. “We offer flexible protective packaging with air cushions, paper pads, PU foam packaging systems, loose-fill packaging materials, and their integration into existing packaging processes. The aim is to achieve and maintain overall cost optimization,” says Managing Director Richard Pulfrey, describing the British unit’s core business.
Speaking about the company’s current market position, he points out that business has been boosted significantly by the changes resulting from the global pandemic, as the company is heavily aligned with e-commerce.
“In 2020, the Storopack Group turned over €500 million worldwide, while the UK business reached £15 million in turnover last year, a year-on-year growth of nearly 40%. We are expecting this trend to continue, although perhaps not at these rates.”
Storopack UK employs around 30 people at its two locations, Sheffield and Brackley, which run almost identical operations consisting of administration and manufacturing, with the Brackley site also having a logistics centre with pallet storage.
“There are a lot of companies such as ourselves that offer machines and consumables but we differentiate with our auxiliary equipment. We first consider the customer’s logistics process, develop packaging lines that are then integrated into their operations. This can be manual, semi-automated or even a fully automated process to produce the packaging materials.
The focus is on the efficiency of the processes and the well-being of the packer in equal measure: unnecessary tasks are eliminated; all packaging material is always conveniently on hand for the packer at the workstations.
“We always look at improving the process, the ergonomics of the packers and allowing companies to grow and increase their output. We call that process ‘Working Comfort®’,” says Mr Pulfrey.
Sustainability in packaging is a pressing topic and one that the company has addressed as a priority. In 2020, more than 35% of Storopack’s in-house manufactured products were made from renewable or recycled materials, and the company has set itself ambitious targets for further improvement.
As a premium product, Storopack offers AIRplus®, a range of air cushions that are 100% recycled (50% post-consumer and 50% post-industrial waste) but even its standard range of air cushions is made of at least 50% recycled materials. “The circular economy and capture of plastic waste is a big topic for us,” affirms Mr Pulfrey.
For example, the company offers packaging chips made from fully home and garden compostable plant starch, a purely natural product that can be washed down the sink, he says, adding that this is the direction the company is heading with its loose-fill products.
“We try to make sure that the consumer is not confused on how to treat these materials. A lot of materials in the market are classed as biodegradable even though they are made from conventional plastics. They contain additives that are designed to imitate biodegradation but do not break down at the molecular or polymer level like biodegradable plastics. The resulting microplastics are ultimately then left in the environment indefinitely.”
“We try to be very straightforward in our approach – we do have bioproducts, such as AIRplus® BIO, made partly from bio-based raw materials such as polylactic acid, which is derived from corn, and always strive to offer the most environmentally-friendly solution.”
Storopack is strong on CSR. Each year, the Storopack Group supports local charities in its countries of operation. Storopack UK chosen partner is Sheffield Children’s Hospital. “We have recently made a donation to the Hospital’s Charity Cancer and Leukaemia ward appeal, we work closely with them and this will continue,” says Mr Pulfrey.
Other initiatives are centred mainly around the topic of plastic waste, he notes. Storopack is part of several alliances to support education and to help create recycling infrastructures in countries where they do not yet exist. The company is also a member of the ‘Alliance to End Plastic Waste’ focused on the mission to allow no plastic waste to enter the environment and cleaning up existing plastic pollution.
Mr Pulfrey points out that as the company has tapped into the growth in e-commerce over the last 15 years, prospects are good. But apart from e-commerce, Storopack is also looking at industrial sectors for more opportunities.
“We have heavy grade products. As manufacturing in general and industries such as automotive start to recover in the coming months and years, this is something we are keen to align ourselves with. From a risk perspective, we don’t want to focus solely on e-commerce.”
Looking ahead, Storopack’s corporate strategy envisages business growth of at least 5-10% year-on-year, and that is also the focus of the UK business, says Mr Pulfrey. “In terms of corporate social responsibility, by 2025 we want to increase the amount of revenue from the renewables and recycled materials that we use in production to over 50%. That is a key objective for us at the moment.”