Kotkamills is currently exploring the possibility of establishing its own sales office in the North America. “There is great interest in our products as alternatives to replace plastic also in North America, and by establishing a sales office we are pursuing growth in these huge markets. By operating close to the markets we can improve our customer service and, when needed, growth is supported by production built or acquired close to the markets. Starting our own production in North America is a vision, and the first steps in exploring it have already been taken,” says Kotkamills CEO Markku Hämäläinen.
Significant steps have been taken at the state and federal level to reduce plastic waste. However, letting go of the disposable culture is easier said than done because consumer habits also dictate the brands’ actions. On the other hand, consumer pressure is the catalyst behind advancing sustainability and reducing plastic. Big chains are now actively seeking more durable single-use solutions and recyclable alternatives.
“The take-away culture is part of the American lifestyle, and our eco-friendly products support this way of life. Ecological rebuilding doesn’t have to mean letting go of all the old habits when there are new, eco-friendly alternatives available,” notes Kotkamills’ Senior Vice President, Consumer Boards Ari Tanninen.
Overall, the North American food packaging market is huge: the board cup market alone is more than 1,000,000 tonnes a year, i.e. quadruple the size of Europe’s. “Even a few percent share of the North American market would be a good start for us,” Hämäläinen says.
Replacing plastic and plastic-coated single-use containers with fully recyclable alternatives is both ecologically and economically feasible. Recycling and recovering traditional plastic-coated single-use containers has been a challenge because removing the plastic coating is very difficult and expensive. The board and its fibres in the fully recyclable cups are easy to recycle.
“Today tremendous amounts of mixed waste generated from single-use containers end up in landfills; this doesn’t make ecological or economic sense. The Kotkamills board can be recycled with normal paper and cardboard without the need for separate recycling facilities. Where previously restaurants have paid a lot of money for their mixed waste bills, now they have an opportunity to benefit economically from the reuse of the fibre in recyclable products,” Tanninen points out.