Sector News

Huhtamaki injects US$100M to expand molded fiber production in North America

June 11, 2022
Chemical Value Chain

Huhtamaki has announced plans to expand its molded fiber product manufacturing unit in the city of Hammond, Indiana, US, as part of its investment in fiber solutions.

The investment, which is expected to start ramping up toward the end of 2023, will enable Huhtamaki to better serve existing and new customers in North America with a broad range of environmentally sustainable, fully recyclable and compostable, fiber-based packaging solutions manufactured from 100% recycled North American raw material.

“With the high-precision manufacturing technology we have developed at Huhtamaki we are able to produce [environmentally] sustainable fiber-based products with superior performance. Fiber-based products dramatically reduce the consumption of less sustainable packaging while continuing to provide the same functionality,” tells Ann O’Hara, president, Huhtamaki North America, PackagingInsights.

New product range
The investment in this new manufacturing capacity, adjacent to Huhtamaki’s existing site in Hammond, represents the company’s belief in the region’s future development and in the continued success of Huhtamaki’s customers – both current and new, says Charles Héaulmé, president and CEO of Huhtamaki.

“The expansion will introduce new [environmentally] sustainable fiber-based products such as egg cartons and cup carriers – manufactured on state-of-the-art machinery developed by Huhtamaki – to our portfolio in the region and drive production efficiency,” he says.

“Our expertise in material and manufacturing innovation enables us to help our customers deliver on their [environmental] sustainability agenda and goals,” adds O’Hara.

Boosting customer service
Amounting to a total investment of almost US$100 million, the expanded facility covers circa 23,000 square meters and will be built adjacent to Huhtamaki’s existing Hammond manufacturing unit.

Huhtamaki has operated in Hammond, Indiana, since 1948 and currently has approximately 140 employees. It expects to employ a further 100 new employees when fully operational.

“We have a 75-year history in the community of Hammond. Our new investment builds on our existing technological expertise and will expand our manufacturing capacity, further leveraging the success of earlier expansions of other Huhtamaki units across North America and harnessing our global expertise in molded fiber technology,” says O’Hara.

“This investment will enable us to better serve our customers in the growing North American consumer goods and retail markets.”

Huhtamaki currently employs approximately 4,400 people across 18 manufacturing units in North America – 17 in the US and one in Mexico – and is a manufacturer of packaging for consumer-packaged goods, as well as tableware, cups, folding cartons, containers, carriers, trays and service ware for the foodservice industry and retail market.

Earlier this year, Huhtamaki announced that its manufacturing site in Alf, Germany, is switching its focus from plastics to smooth molded fiber products to meet the growing demand for plastic free alternatives for food packaging.

The Alf unit plans to replace more than 2,000 metric tons of plastic with fiber in 2022 and when fully operational, the state-of-the-art automated manufacturing site will have the capacity to manufacture up to 3.5 billion fiber products annually. This represents “the first” such large-scale production capability in Europe, says the company.

Huhtamaki also launched a monomaterial PET blister lid that is free from aluminum. The Push Tab is a “first-to-market” innovation for the global pharmaceutical and healthcare industry.

The company also set up its first recycling plant in Maharashtra, India, as part of its #CloseTheLoop initiative. The site spreads across 2,000 square meters and recycles around 1,600 kg of post-consumer used flexible plastic waste per day since it became fully operational on May 2.

The Central Pollution Board of India estimates that India generates close to 26,000 tons of plastic waste per day, and just over 10,000 metric tons per day of plastic waste remains uncollected.

By Natalie Schwertheim


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