Walki’s new investment in Steinfurt to support customers’ transition to circular packaging materials

A new state-of-the-art production line at Walki Group’s Steinfurt plant, Germany, will support customers in the transition to sustainable and circular fibrebased packaging materials.

Driven by strong market trends and the new European regulatory framework, Walki has completed an investment surpassing 6 MEUR in a unique state-of-the-art production line at its plant in Steinfurt. The line is now ready to start catering to customers who are making the transition to fibre-based materials.

As part of EU’s Green Deal policies, the Singe Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive Regulation (PPWR) are setting a clear path towards recyclable and circular packaging across Europe, building on established recycling streams for paper-based materials.

This latest investment will not only enable market launches of recyclable board and lining materials, but also facilitate substitution from plastic to fibre-based packaging and thus significantly reducing carbon-footprint.

“We saw a need to transform our portfolio of materials and technologies to stay on the forefront for circular fibre-based packaging materials. Together with other recent investments, Walki´s product offering across Europe is no doubt unique. It enables our customers to achieve the highest functionality on fibre-based materials with a minimum environmental impact and with the possibility to adapt to customers´ specific packaging requirements”, says Nikolaus Wolfram, Executive Vice President at Walki.

The new investment will support customers in the food and non-food segments with barrier board and flexible packaging. Industrial liner applications for corrugated boxed is another segment.

The production line, called The Bridge, has been tailor-made to a unique multi-functional machine combining and upgrading the existing extruder line with a line for glue lamination and dispersion coating.

“Glue lamination and dispersion technologies provide excellent barrier properties to fibre-based materials using significantly less plastics compared to conventional methods without compromising on functional features such as resistance to humidity, grease and mechanical stress”, says Bernd Schröer, Technology Development Director at Walki.

“There is an urgent need to replace plastics with fibre-based alternatives that are easily recyclable in the well-established paper stream. As brand owners and retailers are looking for new solutions to comply with the PPWR and SUP directives, the demand for materials using new technologies is set to increase”, says Wolfram, adding that end consumers are increasingly demanding recyclable packaging too.

The new machine in Steinfurt is part of a bigger investment project in Central Europe. In January this year, a new barrier-board production line was augurated in Steinfurt’s sister plant in Wroclaw, Poland. Together the two plants offer a unique full-service production hub for customers in Central and Western Europe.
“Increasing our capacity and widening our portfolio in this part of Europe will significantly cut CO2 emissions due to shorter transporting distances while also cutting down on delivery times”, says Schröer.

The Bridge is with its width of 3 metres also the widest on the market, making the materials suitable for most corrugating and converting lines, while also ensuring larger capacity and production output.

During this spring, Walki has made numerous test runs with excellent results. The production line was inaugurated with festivities on June 5th 2024 with about 70 guests attending, including many customers and other community stakeholders.

“This future-oriented investment is also an important milestone for the long-term development of our Steinfurt plant and its workforce, valuing the deep technology and market know-how available in this site”, says Nikolaus Wolfram.