Amerplast was founded in 1952 in Finland. Finland is known for its nature and often referred as the land of thousand lakes. In fact, there are 187,888 of them. Finland is also covered with forests as they cover around 75% of the land, making it the most forested country in Europe. In the 50s, when Amerplast was founded by entrepreneurs Sami and Marja Suominen, there was no public discussion about the effects businesses and manufacturing would have on the environment and the nature. The boreal forests with pine, fir and birch trees, as far the eye could see, seemed everlasting and never changing feature of the Finnish landscape. People around the world had no idea, that the path humankind was taking, would lead to environmental crisis such as climate change and decline in biodiversity.
As the years went by, the understanding of human effects on the environment increased. Public discussion also reached business life and environmentally aware businesses, including Amerplast, started to develop ways to minimise their environmental effects.
Customers and their success have always been in the center of our business and operations. As a packaging supplier, we have seen, that it is our responsibility to constantly search for and bring forward the most environmentally friendly alternatives in materials and technologies. Our solutions support customers to achieve their sustainability goals, while meeting the commercial and technical requirements.
In the early 90s, Amerplast took its first circular economy steps with the launch of the first recycled carrier bags to the Finnish retail market. It took a lot of development work to produce thin plastic film containing recycled polyethylene and convert it into bags carrying heavy grocery loads. In the beginning, this meant that it was possible to produce bags with only a small share of recycled materials. Now, almost 30 years later, we are able to manufacture carrier bags from even thinner plastic film with over 95% of recycled materials. This has been achieved by long term development efforts and the improved quality of the recycled resins.
In the past five years, this experience and know how has enabled us to expand the use of recycled materials from carrier bags to cover a large portfolio of non-food flexible packaging solutions. Our target is to increase the share of recycled materials used in our production by 400 tons in 2021 and by 1400 tons in 2022, compared to 2020 level.
In 2017, The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra included Amerplast in its listing of most interesting companies in the circular economy in Finland, which showcases the country’s most inspiring examples of circular economy.
Recyclability is the key when we strive to make the transition towards the circular economy and an efficient recycling of plastic packaging. The majority of the packaging we produce is recyclable in the existing recycling streams (95,6% in 2020). Our target is to make 100% of our packaging recyclable by 2025.
Currently the most commonly and commercially used recycling method is the mechanical recycling process. The collected waste material is sorted by plastic type with a near infrared (NIR) technology for example, shredded and washed, melted and regranulated as recycled plastic pellets. According to one of our suppliers the recycling of plastics only requires only 15% of the amount of energy it takes to produce virgin plastics. The challenge in this mechanical recycling method is that it sets more precise requirements for the packaging materials in order for them to be recycled in this process. Our focus in the development of our packaging solutions, and especially of the laminates, is exclusively on the recyclable solutions.
Knowing what we know today, about the effects we humans have on our planet and its climate, we need to learn how to use our planets scarce resources wisely and sustainably. For Amerplast, this means material efficiency, recycling and recyclable packaging solutions that also minimise waste.
One of the biggest waste challenges we have is the food waste. Producing food requires a lot of land, energy, water and other resources. Despite best farming practices, cold chain and transportation infrastructures, food waste continues to be a significant issue from delivery to retail to consumption also in the developed world.
In 2015, we started cooperation with PerfoTec BV, to offer our customers an efficient way to improve their product quality and shelf life of fresh produce. The AmerFresh Active Packaging System is designed to inhibit as much as possible the biochemical reactions in fresh produce through better packaging architecture, delivering fresh-cut vegetables and fruits with a longer life cycle. It can reduce waste by up to 50%.
Amerplast constantly looks for more sustainable alternatives to traditional oil-based raw materials. We are aiming to make bio based raw materials a standard in our business.
Bio based raw materials are a great option especially for food packaging, where the use of recycled raw materials is very limited. One of the bio based raw materials we offer to our customers is the recyclable and sugarcane based Green PE. Its produced using ethanol, a by-product in sugar production. It contains no fossil raw materials and can be recycled in existing recycling streams. Braskem’s Green PE removes up to 2.15 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere for each ton produced, from cradle to Braskem’s gate (source: LCA study by E4tech & LCA Works).
Another interesting bio based solution is cellulose based Woodly, which is a carbon neutral and wood-based alternative to traditional fossil-based plastics. It can be utilised in applications currently made from traditional fossil-based polypropylene, such as packaging for clothing, flowers or bread, for example.
Sustainability in our operations is built on three elements: decreasing our operations’ greenhouse gas emissions and impact on the environment, sustainable sourcing and promoting circular economy. As part of our sustainability strategy, we have set up a program to decrease our emissions to mitigate climate change. In 2020, we were able to decrease our annual GHG emissions by 3,45 million kg CO2-ekv., by changing our Tampere plant energy source to hydropower.
In our operations, we promote circular economy models, where applicable through material efficiency, recycling, reuse and minimisation of waste. We have set up a program to decrease waste and to improve the recycling rate of the waste. When it comes to production waste, we are internally using our polyethylene waste to be used in our recycled flexible packaging. To further increase the effectiveness of internal plastics recycling and the versatile use of recycled plastics in flexible packaging applications, Amerplast’s new plastic recycling machinery was taken to use in Tampere production in the Summer of 2020.
An integral part of our sustainability strategy is sustainable sourcing. We partner with well-known and established European partners and make sure that our suppliers and partners are operating in line with our company code of conduct. We are utilising a variety of tools to ensure sustainability within our supply chain. For example in 2020, Amerplast was found compliant with the Bonsucro Chain of Custody Standard. The certification is a proof of responsible sourcing and trading – it provides assurance that claims of compliance can be tracked along the supply chain of packaging made of sugar derived polyethylene.
Our customers and their success are the driving force in everything that we do. We constantly develop our operations, customer service, product portfolio and supply chain to be able to provide the best quality and grow together with our customers. We consider ourselves to be only as good as our last product produced and delivered and we earn our customers’ trust and satisfaction each day.
We continue to be committed to responsible business and sustainable growth. We operate with high and ethical business standards. Throughout our history, we have been considered as reliable quality supply partner for our customers and our customer base is built on close and long-term business relationships.
We employee around 450 people at our factories in Poland and Finland and at our sales offices. There is a vast number of professionals from different fields and with different backgrounds. Our focus is on their health and safety, well-being and professional development. We are committed to our target of zero work related accidents and our AmerSafety program educates employees on how to ensure their own and their colleagues’ safety.
Amerplast was founded in 1952 by Finnish entrepreneurs Sami and Marja Suominen. Still today, you can find this entrepreneurial attitude and commitment towards Amerplast and our customers within our employees. We are proud of our level of expertise, quality and service, we provide for our customers. There are many long-lasting careers at Amerplast and we have also seen employees’ spouses and family members coming to work at Amerplast. Our flexible packaging professionals are the heart of our operations. Amerplast is very lucky to have such a marvelous group of people serving our customers and building the future of circular economy flexible packaging.