Emmanuel Duffaut, sustainability director at RETAL, discusses the sustainable potential and performance advantages of PET for FMCGs in our latest Rapid Interview.

Your elevator pitch: introduce and sell us your company in no more than 280 characters.

RETAL is a plastic packaging partner to many of the world’s leading FMCG brands, producing preforms, closures, containers, and films. We create solutions that deliver on performance and sustainability, harnessing R&D, quality assurance, and close cooperation with our customers.

Where are your company’s locations? Are there any specific challenges or advantages relating to your geographical location that you could tell us about?

We employ close to 900 people in Europe, the US, and Ukraine, and serve customers in more than 70 countries. Our many production sites across Europe and Ukraine allow us to be close to our household brand customers.

Tell us a surprising fact about the market you work in.

Innovation and PET packaging go hand in hand! With little positive recognition yet high demand, our industry is progressive, open-minded, and realistic about investing in making DfR-driven sustainable changes that deliver on reliability and CSR values.

At Packaging Europe we like to watch trends and areas of innovation as they evolve. Can you tell us something we might not be aware of that is driving technology in your sphere?

Design for Recycling and circularity principles/regulations are driving innovation: influencing formats, size of bottles, introducing tethered caps, limiting/reducing certain colorants and additives, demanding use of recycled materials, lightweighting…they’re game changers.

What would you say is the biggest common misconception that you encounter in your business?

That PET packaging is not sustainable. In fact, PET is reliable, practical, affordable, and sustainable: lower CO2 emissions than aluminium or glass, and almost infinitely recyclable. With DfR, collection and recycling increasing, and mandatory rPET, PET = even more sustainable.

If the wider packaging industry could be transformed in some way, what kind of change would you like to see?

Packaging, especially plastic packaging is an essential part of our daily lives, and COVID has highlighted how we rely on it; I would love to see all packaging become truly circular through a more joined-up and collaborative value chain so we can continue to use it in a sustainable way.

…and how do you envisage your company changing the industry in the coming years?

RETAL is holistic in our approach to creating sustainable plastic packaging solutions: our sister company NEO Group’s NEOPET Cycle (PET resin with 25% integrated rPET), our R&D team’s lighter preforms and tethered closures for neck finishes, and implementing DfR with customers.