The path leading to today’s “Reynolds Flexible Packaging” has been long and winding. Previously, the company was known as Alcoa Flexible Packaging. It was, and still is, a manufacturer of pouches, blister packaging, unitizing films, envelope films, high-quality shrink labels and foil lidding for a variety of markets, including food and beverage. But the company went through a name change after it was sold by its parent, world-leading aluminum producer Alcoa, earlier this year to New Zealand-based Rank Group Limited for $2.7 billion.
(Alcoa Flexible Packaging was one of several business units that Alcoa sold to Rank. Also included in the deal was Reynolds Food Packaging, which continues as a separate business unit from Reynolds Flexible Packaging. Reynolds Food Packaging is maker of stock and custom film and foil packaging for the foodservice, supermarket, food processor and agricultural markets.)
A lot of water separates Richmond, Va.-based Reynolds Flexible Packaging from its kiwi owner. But it’s got a capable leader in president Jeff Kellar, who joined Alcoa Flexible Packaging in 2007 and is no stranger to packaging. Previously, he held several management positions at Tetra Pak during his nine years there. Before that, he logged 18 years at Miller Brewing.
Kellar spoke at the Global Pouch Forum this May and touched a bit on the company’s strategy. “Our innovation platform has two pathways. One of them is productivity, and one of them is innovation and new products,” said Kellar.
Although the company serves many markets-including food, pharmaceutical, medical, tobacco, electronics and retail-Kellar said he believes the flexible packaging industry is at a tipping point of opportunity for foods. Reynolds is diligently working to provide its food customers with simple structures, for easier recycling, with good barrier.
Technology improvements, such as re-tortable zipper closures, will also help advance flexible food packaging, according to Kellar, especially since retort pouches continue to be popular with consumers and expect to see 10% annual growth for at least thenext couple of years.
One of the company’s sustainable packaging messages came from an unusual area: its polyvinyl chloride (PVC) business.
As the “Sustainable Fact Sheet” for its Reynolon PVC shrink film points out:
- Some Reynolon PVC shrink film formulations contain as much as 62%of materials that are bio-based or renewable.
- 57% of PVC comes from salt, which is an abundant resource.
- Less energy is required to shrink Reynolon PVC film, decreasing energy consumption and costs.
- Reynolon PVC film can be safely incinerated, and also carries the resinidentification code of “3” for recycling. The company’s interest in recycling of flexible packaging may be residual from its former parent, Alcoa, which annually recycles 14 billion aluminum cans. But it may also prove to be the secret to its future success.
Even though flexible packaging has a strong sustainability message because it often replaces heavier packages that use more material, consumers perceive “recyclable” packages as more environmentally friendly. Reynolds may score a win on both counts: flexible packages that use less material and are recyclable.