Mondi Bupak – combining global expertise in innovative packaging with a local footprint

Tue, 12. July 2022
Corrugated solutions
Corrugated solutions, sustainability, innovation
by Newsroom
 

This article was originally published in the Czech trade magazine ‘PRŮMYSL DNES’ in February 2022.

  • A flagship plant for high-performance corrugated packaging and a hub for development and production of state-of-the-art eCommerce packaging
  • Optimising packaging solutions for a great variety of customers
  • ThinkBox opening – an exciting new customer engagement centre offering a totally new approach to the design of customised, efficient and yet sustainable packaging solutions supported by a variety of additional services
  • Opening of ISTA performance lab for safer packaging in transit

To discover a global expert in packaging and its local entity, we have to travel to České Budějovice – the heart of South Bohemia, 150 km south of Prague and 200 km northwest of Vienna. Here we find Mondi Bupak, a subsidiary of the global packaging and paper supplier Mondi. The Bupak plant produces corrugated cardboard that is then turned into corrugated packaging solutions in an integrated production facility. The plant’s special focus is on the production of high-quality corrugated boxes used in Bupak’s main market segment of eCommerce.

 

For a long time, packaging was considered only a commodity, but this has changed in recent years. Many industries have recognised that packaging can have a particular influence on their efficiency. Working together with its customers, Mondi develops packaging solutions that are sustainable by design. Customers are able to minimise the overall use of materials, the need for filling materials, and transport volume through sized-to-fit, ready-to-ship and lightweight solutions. They gain a competitive advantage and reduce their overall COfootprint, as well as benefitting from the certainty of packaging that meets their business partners’ and carriers’ requirements.

Mondi Bupak Quality control
 

Through the consistent implementation of an innovative corporate strategy and extensive investment in recent years, Mondi Bupak has strengthened its position as one of the leading manufacturers of corrugated packaging in the Czech Republic. In Central Europe it is one of the flagship corrugated solutions plants of the international Mondi Group and a hub for development and production of eCommerce packaging.

 
Jindřich Krejčí, Managing Director Mondi Bupak Jindřich Krejčí, Managing Director Mondi Bupak

The plant, which currently employs about 220 people, has received numerous awards and prizes for its products from customers and independent jurors. In recent years, the company has won several awards in the Obal Roku competition and in the international WorldStar packaging competition

We met with the Managing Director of Mondi Bupak, Jindrich Krejci, to discuss current trends and challenges of packaging, as well as some major new services that his plant offers to Czech and Slovakian customers. He also shares some thoughts on how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted Mondi’s business and products.

 

What has been the evolution of transport packaging requirements? 

Over the past decade the packaging industry has undergone a massive change. There are global trends like the rise of eCommerce, a growing importance of sustainable solutions and stringent requirements for logistics packaging. Nowadays, a huge range of products is available and needs to be transported safely in a complex, yet globalised world. Important topics such as sustainability, economic efficiency and cost effectiveness must be combined with optimal product protection, all while addressing the challenges of individual customers.

These trends bring benefits and challenges for the packaging industry. On one hand, logistics now consider packaging to be more than just a commodity and rather a tool to appeal to customers, inform them about their products and create a long-lasting experience. On the other hand, packaging manufacturers need to come up with creative designs that are aesthetically pleasing, but also transport the product safely and cost-effectively to its destination. Above all, packaging must be sustainable, using materials that are light, recyclable, reusable or compostable. As a renewable material, fibre-based packaging is hard to beat.

 

What are the current trends in packaging?

The focus for our customers, for example in the automotive industry, remains sustainability. The demand for sustainable packaging solutions is high. The industry asks for a holistic approach along the entire value chain from production to disposal. Our corrugated packaging is made of paper from controlled sources, increasingly uses recycled material and replaces or reduces plastic where possible. Reducing wood as a packaging material from the past is also a trend that is ongoing. Especially now, with raw material prices at an all-time high, replacing is becoming more and more important.

When we look at the eCommerce customers, efficiency and optimisation are the main trends. Online shops are looking for ways to get rid of excessive packaging, eliminate plastics and consolidate their packaging portfolio while, above all, protecting their products from damage during transport. Here our packaging solutions need to provide faster packaging, material savings and lower shipping costs through a lower packaging weight. In addition, we see a need to reduce complexity in packaging and develop universal solutions for a high number of components or goods of different sizes and shapes. Innovative packaging solutions cover these topics and offer a high level of product protection with the least amount of material.

With our innovative packaging solutions, we try to do justice to both of these major trends. What’s more, we follow not only customer trends, but also our own MAP2030 (Mondi Action Plan 2030) which sets out the actions we will take to meet our ambitious 2030 sustainability goals. We believe that by focusing on circular driven solutions, created by empowered people, and taking action on climate, we will have the most positive impact. We are committed to being sustainable by design and want to delight customers with our portfolio of sustainable products.

 

Your plant has a very long tradition, but which events have been key to its development in recent years?

It is true, our plant history goes back to 1880 when the original founders began producing paper, straw cardboard and tissue paper out of rye and wheat straw. In the last two years, we have pursued a big investment project to modernise our production site and upgrade our facilities to create a strong footprint in the Czech market. The digital transformation is rapidly changing society and the way we consume. The rise of eCommerce in particular has radically transformed the packaging industry. Thus, our aim was to bring Mondi Bupak into the “Champions League” of the corrugated business and make it one of leading players on the market. As part of this investment, we installed a new state-of-art corrugator and additional corrugated board converting machinery. When it comes to our market, the focus on transport packaging and eCommerce has proven to be right. The boost of the online economy and related distribution channels triggered substantial growth in both these segments during the pandemic, and Bupak has managed really well to benefit from this growth.

 

Which products are the most demanding in terms of protection and why?

Mondi Corrugated Solutions is the home of innovation. It is our daily task to develop packaging that is sustainable by design, be it standardised or an individual solution. The variety of goods that our customers need to pack is endless. Our goal is to find the sweet spot between protection, cost-efficiency and sustainability. And there is absolutely no restriction here, no matter whether it is an engine of a few hundred kilos that has to be shipped to a different continent, or delicate glasses that are packed to be safely displayed in your local store.

 

Which products are the mainstay of your product range? Please provide examples of interesting packaging solutions and their application in practice.

We believe that creativity and innovation are the heart and soul of our industry. Mondi Corrugated Solutions has successfully introduced to the market hundreds of sustainable corrugated packaging solutions as attractive alternatives to traditional packaging, benefitting a range of sectors from food and beverage to personal care and electrical goods.

That is why we foster close cooperation between our designers and offer regular workshops to share best practices with our customers and retailers.

One example of successful innovation comes from the eCommerce sector. In an attempt to simplify packaging and offer higher comfort, we developed our EnvelopeMailer for the leader in eCommerce. It can replace the traditional flap boxes that e-shops used for shipping in the past. The classic flap boxes need to be sealed with plastic tape at the top and bottom once the package has been filled – quite a lengthy process. Our EnvelopeMailer is available in four sizes and equipped with self-adhesive and tear-off tape. Customisable packaging fixes the inserted goods in place and can be fully recycled after having been unpacked by the customer. According to customers who are using the product, the packaging process has been simplified and sped up – from approximately one minute to a maximum of ten seconds. Furthermore, there is no need to use plastic tape for sealing, which brings both ecological and economic benefits. There have also been space savings in the customer’s storage and loading area. The transport vehicle can hold more packaged goods due to lower packaging height, which leads to reduced emissions. Less packaging material is also positively reflected in the total transport prices that e-shops have to pay by weight of shipment. In short, EnvelopeMailer boosts the efficiency of eCommerce retailers tremendously and is a perfectly sustainable solution made of recyclable paper.

 

What would you say was the highlight of 2021 for you?

One highlight of the past year was definitely the opening of our “ThinkBox” here at Mondi Bupak in late 2021. Mondi designed this ThinkBox concept as a physical and digital space offering a variety of services to support customers in their quest for better and more sustainable packaging.

ThinkBoxes are customer engagement centres for our corrugated packaging customers. The aim of “ThinkBox” is to enable the co-creation of better, more sustainable packaging designs through inspirational and insightful events, training courses and individual workshops in physical, digital or hybrid formats. We understand it as a knowledge pool that is continuously filled by industry and sustainability experts and the ideas and expertise of a large network of award-winning designers.

In total, we have three of these ThinkBoxes in our Mondi Corrugated Solutions business segment. One is located in Germany, one in Turkey, and the flagship ThinkBox, which offers 500 sqm of space for engagement and shared experiences, is here in our plant in the Czech Republic, Mondi’s eCommerce packaging hub. We are happy to support customers from a variety of industries in any phase of their journey for improved corrugated packaging, and proud to provide this unique service in the Czech market.

Another highlight was the opening of our ISTA-certified laboratory in December 2021. The laboratory offers various transport performance tests, including ISTA 6 certification testing for packaging. Our laboratory is an approved member of the Amazon Packaging Support and Supplier Network (APASS) and hence a partner of choice for testing Amazon’s Tier 1–3 compliant packaging (FFP, SIOC and PFP)1, which is a market standard of the online retailer for reducing packaging volume in eCommerce logistics.

Carriers, online retailers and marketplaces such as Amazon and FedEx increasingly require that packaging be proven for compliance with ISTA standards using such performance tests. As a result, there is growing demand from a wide variety of FMCG, consumer durables and industrial companies for proof that their packaging meets these requirements.

The new laboratory features the latest testing equipment that allows full simulation of the typical impacts – such as compression, drop, vibration and clamp – that a packed product could encounter in standard retail, global logistics or eCommerce supply chains.

1) Fit-for-purpose (FFP), ship in own container (SIOC), prep-free packaging (PFP)

 

All companies are being tested by, among other things, the pandemic and its various impacts. How does this factor affect Mondi Bupak? At first glance, it seems that the production of packaging and packaging materials is still booming.

Of course the Covid-19 pandemic was for us, and still is, just like for everyone else, a huge challenge ever since it started in March 2020. Apart from the human factor and the concern for employees and everyone’s health, we all had to deal with restrictions, obstacles and even supply chain disturbances. As mentioned, we had also been making some ongoing investments in the past two years, like installing some new machinery and building our brand-new customer engagement centre “ThinkBox”. In addition, we faced a huge boom in the eCommerce sector as shopping worldwide pretty much shifted to the digital shopping malls during the pandemic. So the main question for us was: “What do we need to do to keep the plant in full operation and satisfy the booming demand under circumstances that none of us has ever experienced before, and no one could really prepare for?” All while we still needed to take care of some extraordinary investment projects.

In the end, it was a set of many decisions, a strong team spirit, our passion for performance, and ability to be flexible and resilient that led to our success even under such unfavourable circumstances.

 

Contact

Sabine Ehrlich-Zingel
Marketing & Communication Manager CE
Corrugated Solutions
[email protected]