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The secret to the success of the CPL pool system can be summed up into two words: “closed loop,” as Managing Director and CsO Michael Heikenfeld explains. “The cycle is complete from both a materials and a logistics point of view, which makes the pool system highly efficient and cost-effective.”

It also means that the impact on the environment is kept to an absolute minimum. The heart of the system is layer pads made from long-lasting polypropylene. These are used to separate and stabilize multiple layers of bottles, cans or other containers stacked on transport pallets.

The CPL logistics cycle starts and ends at one of Cartonplast’s many service centers worldwide. They are responsible for sorting, cleaning and shipping the layer pads to the container manufacturers. The bottles or cans are stacked on pallets with the layer pads separating each layer, ready for transportation to the filling plant.

As the containers are fed into the filling lines, the layer pads become free and are collected by CPL to be fed back into the logistics cycle. The returned layer pads undergo cleaning to food hygiene safety standards and are subjected to quality checks before they can be returned into the cycle. Scrap pads are recycled to make new pads without the slightest loss in quality, thus closing the cycle.

There is a certain beauty to the CPL pool system from whichever angle it is viewed. “The system offers users many direct benefits and a number of incidental ones too,” says Mr. Heikenfeld. “Firstly, and most importantly, our customers can rely on safe, hygienic transportation of their products. Secondly, the rental based logistics concept guarantees a cost-effective, transparent pricing structure, which can form the basis of onward planning for many years. Renting and pooling all over Europe leverages packaging in peak seasons from low-demand areas to those with high demand. The users of the CPL pool system can opt to sell their proprietary packaging to CPL, thereby releasing tied-up and unproductive capital for investment in their core activities. With no day-to-day running costs, further savings can be had.”

Another advantage of the pool is that spare pallets are circulated externally, freeing up warehouse space for other projects. When compared to a quality cardboard pad, Cartonplast pads are not just the more cost-effective option but also a more reliable alternative.

"With more than 40 million layer pads in circulation worldwide, Cartonplast has the flexibility to cope with our customers’ demands including peak demand," says Mr. Heikenfeld.

Customers receive exactly the layer pads they want whenever and wherever they need them without having to worry about buying, storing or handling the materials, and without planning or handling, at a clearly calculable cost. The pool system has made Cartonplast the European market leader in the field of reusable layer pads for beverage and food containers. However, this success did not come overnight.

“It all started in 1967 when Karton S.p.A. was founded in Caneva, Italy. In 1978 the company launched an innovative packaging material, Cartonplast, a recyclable plastic material made from polypropylene, and started with the manufacture of layer pads for transport. The immediate success of the new products provided the basis for ongoing expansion through the establishment of new branches and through acquisitions.”

In 1985, the German subsidiary Cartonplast Trading GmbH was established, and the idea of forming a pool was born. In the following years, service centers were set up across Europe in Spain, Portugal, the UK, Turkey, Poland, Russia and South Africa. In 2010 the subsidiary companies were united under the umbrella of the Cartonplast Group, headed by Michael Heikenfeld, who was appointed managing director that same year.

“Since then we have continued to expand our activities into overseas markets,” explains Mr. Heikenfeld. “Cartonplast operates 13 cleaning and logistics centers worldwide. In Latin America, branches have been set up in Mexico and Brazil, and a representative office is being opened in Japan.”

At the heart of the system are the Cartonplast layer pads. They come with outstanding features and lend themselves ideally to demanding applications such as the transport of food and beverage containers. “Our plastic layer pads are lightweight yet robust, reliable, durable and highly resistant to physical impacts and chemicals. They are hygienically safe and 100% recyclable,” the managing director points out. “We offer plastic layer pads in a variety of thicknesses, surface finishes and physical properties to cater to the specific requirements of our customers and the containers they transport. For example, in addition to solid layer pads, we offer sandwich layer pads and corrugated layer pads with sealed edges.”

Customers can also be assured that CPL packaging meets environmental standards. Reusable and fully recyclable, CPL’s plastic layer pads have been awarded the Blue Angel label for environmental compatibility. Cartonplast layer pads are designed for use with containers made from glass, metal and plastic.

“The glass container industry is a key target group,” states Mr. Heikenfeld. “Our pool system is widely used by businesses shipping glass containers for all sorts of products, from sparkling wine and beer to jelly, for customers that want to ensure these products reach their destination hygienically safe and secure. Manufacturers and fillers of cans and tins are a growth market we want to invest in further in the future by developing new, thinner materials. At present we are researching the potential of the market of PET bottles, and we are carrying out market studies for applications in the pharmaceutical industry with clean room manufacturing and sterile materials.”

With a staff of 400 employees worldwide, Cartonplast generated turnover of 60 million EUR in 2012. “In 2009/2010 we experienced a rapid increase in sales courtesy of a series of acquisitions, and turnover has been stable since then,” concludes Mr. Heikenfeld. “We are the market leader in reusable transport materials, and we want to further enhance our impact. At present we are integrating the different sites which had been independent before. There is limited growth potential in Europe, especially for glass containers, while cans and tins are a growth market in the UK, Spain and Poland. There is definite growth potential for our system in overseas markets, and we will further expand our global presence to make use of this potential.”

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