SmartWrap is a Romanian company that makes stretch palletized plastic packaging, polyethylene foils, adhesive tape, food foils or non-adhesive tapes. In a constantly changing industry that needs more sustainability to be able to prepare for the future, SmartWrap decided to invest in the future.

The beginnings of SmartWrap

Melinda Mureșan says that in 1990 she graduated from the Faculty of Wood Processing. But with all the traditional factories closing after the fall of communism, she couldn't work for what she prepared for.

So he got a job with a pallet delivery company. There she learned the trade in a new field at that time in Romania. And so she came up with the idea to start a business.

"When I founded the company in 1994, the main activity was importing of foils for industrial packaging. Between 1994 and 1997, we focused on developing the market and the customer base. Until 2009, we worked to build strategic partnerships with strong suppliers in the region and around the world. Subsequently, we invested in our own production platform and we managed to gradually open 6 work points and build the central warehouse in Râșnov (Romania)", says Melinda Mureșan.

They have grown and in 2013 they introduced ERP and BI systems, and in 2020 they started the process of strategic relaunch of the company, launching for the first time in Romania the eco-sustainable heat-shrinkable foil - The SmartGreen made of sustainable polyethylene.

Currently SmartWrap is based on 3 business directions. The HighPerformance line is composed of flexible packaging that is used on high-performance equipment that generates significant savings and increased productivity through working speed. The Standard line covers the basic packaging needs of users, through products such as foils, adhesive tapes and PVC thermal products. And the Utilaje business line offers equipments from all manual, semi-automatic and automatic categories that optimizes the packaging process.

At the moment, the market for SmartWrap is in Romania, but once they expand the sustainable division, The SmartGreen, they want to expand worldwide.

Transition to sustainability

In 2020, SmartWrap underwent a strategic relaunch process and they took the path of sustainability through The SmartGreen, a new generation of packaging that is not as harmful to the environment.

„The current climatic situation, doubled by the pioneering mission we undertook in the packaging industry, led us to create this product ", says Melinda Mureșan.

Basically, polyethylene comes from sugar cane and provides a negative carbon footprint for the raw material used. The packaging is also made from renewable sources, and at the end of its life The SmartGreen foil can be recycled in the same chains developed for traditional foils. In addition, replacing traditional foils with SmartGreen ones does not require additional investment.

"In this process, the challenges were many because we had to change the entire business model and structure differently the range of products and services we offer. Perhaps the biggest challenge was assuming the status of innovators and pioneers on the flexible industrial packaging market in Romania, in order to combat the consumption of plastics by offering modern and eco-sustainable solutions ", explains Melinda Mureșan.

The investment for the transformation was 1 million EUR which went in advanced production equipment

The benefits of using sustainable solutions

The transition to sustainable products means not only investment, but also long-term profit. Talking about the advantages, Melinda Mureșan mentioned that they can be summarized in 4 elements: Economic, Efficient, Eco-sustainable and Easy to Apply.

Thus, the new packaging reduces the cost by reducing the specific consumption, because the foil is of better quality and allows the packaging to be just as good even at lower thicknesses.

„The cost is also reduced by eliminating complaints and returns caused by damage to goods during transport; the image of the packaged product is just as visible, due to the transparency and gloss of the foil”, says Melinda Mureșan.

The foil can also be used on high-performance equipment and eliminates the time lost due to interruptions caused by inconsistency in quality.

"In the current context, when the price of energy, gas and fuel increases , but also in general, choosing the right packaging solution, energy consumption can be reduced by up to 30%, and the specific one by up to 60%. For example, a bottler of mineral water saved 35,000 EUR in one year after automating and reducing the consumption of foil, compared to the previous year on the same amount of foiled products ", explains the SmartWrap manager. Basically, the factory managed to use only 330 grams instead of 1067 grams of foil.

Difficulty in introducing sustainable materials to the market

It is not easy to convince the market and customers that there is a need for a transition to sustainability.

"We are still in the phase of educating, promoting and innovating new eco-sustainable products. The flexible packaging market in Romania needs a change in mentality, because it is a market mainly of standard products. Any innovative product is viewed with distrust and hardly accepted by customers ", says Melinda Mureșan.

She explains that until recently customers were loyal to the lowest price paradigm, but this strategy is not successful in the long run.

"The sharp rise in fuel, energy or gas prices, coupled with declining product consumption, has led companies to pay more attention to cost efficiency and cost-effective solutions. They have begun to abandon the "low price" theory and understand the importance of implementing cost-cutting solutions", said thbe SmartWrap founder. She notes that the market now understands better what it means to invest in quality products and automate processes.

"All eco-friendly foils cost about 40% more than traditional ones. The benefits of using such a foil are financial (energy consumption 20% lower, several packages with the same number of rolls consumed), aesthetic (packaged products are much better seen through the foil), reducing the working temperature by up to at 50 degrees and care for nature, being from a renewable resource ", she adds.

In addition to investing in technology, SmartWrap also promotes responsible consumption. She mentions that we must be responsible at the individual level as well. Even if we use biodegradable plastic bags, they decompose, but not completely, and are just as polluting.

"Otherwise we just move the problem even further from consumption to recycling which, in Romania, is very far from what it should be. Therefore, it is vital to change our consumption behavior and to realize that the more we consume, the more we throw away, pollute and use the resources of this planet more ", says Melinda Mureșan.

Regarding the SmartWrap plans for 2022, the company's founder mentions that they will continue the education campaigns, but also the installation of photovoltaic panels on all available surfaces to produce part of the company's electricity needs.