For our series ‘From Factory to Trees', we interview several of our partners in the packaging chain. This time we had the pleasure to interview Geert Michiels, Sales Manager Benelux at Mainetti B.V. Geert has worked for 23 years at Mainetti and has fulfilled several sales related roles. Mainetti was founded in the late 50's by 4 Mainetti brothers in Castelcomberto (Italy) and as a producer of clothes hangers. Today, Mainetti is a global company with 90 locations in six continents with more than 6,000 employees. The company has also made a transition from hanger manufacturer to manufacturer/supplier of "Retail Solutions'' for (fashion) retail. For instance, it supplies carrier bags, e-commerce packaging, labels & hang tags, RFID solutions and personal protection equipment.
Mainetti is a global supplier of solutions for the retail sector. Over the last 2 years, Corona has obviously changed this sector. What have you noticed?
“The corona pandemic has of course had an impact on the supply chain. In the beginning, for example, there was a reduction in production capacity and the supply of raw materials. During the pandemic, we were confronted with cost increases of raw materials and in particular sea transport from China. We also had to deal with temporary closures of non-essential retailers, our customers and a further shift from offline to online.”
As ZeroPackaging sustainability is our main focus. Mainetti also has a strong focus on sustainability, for example your Closed-loop Recycling system. Can you tell us more about that?
“30 years ago, Mainetti pioneered in the industry, offering the logistic processes for reusing and recycling clothing hangers. Within this process we collect unsorted hangers from our customers, sort them, and repack so they can be reused. The hangers that are too badly damaged or no longer needed are ground into raw material that we eventually use to produce new hangers. This process is also known as The Hanger Loop: a closed system for the use of clothing hangers.”
Currently, Mainetti is a leader in the global circular economy in your industry. How do you make sure you stay ahead of the curve?
In addition to the Hanger Loop solution for clothes hangers, we now also offer a solution for poly packaging (polybags), Poly Loop. Within this process, we collect e.g. polybags returned from fashion retailers and process them into raw material to produce new polybags. For the production of our products, we use as much as possible recycled raw materials from our own recycling processes. We also produce products from more sustainable raw materials such as WPC (wood plastic composite) and recycled paper.
Next to that, our R&D departments are always looking for new, more sustainable ways of producing. This is possible through new production techniques and through new raw materials. In addition to using recycled polystyrene and polyethylene raw materials for the production of hangers and poly packaging respectively, in recent years we have also introduced new product lines produced from more sustainable raw materials such as WPC and paper.
Can you describe a project in which you have been involved with sustainability?
“Mainetti started Plan M, our corporate environmental strategy, about 8 years ago. With Plan M we are looking at reducing the use of raw materials and energy to the maximum within our production units around the world. We work with environmental management systems according to international standards (ISO 14001:2004/2015).”
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about sustainability in the retail sector?
“In my opinion, plastic products have an unjustified negative image. Many retailers choose paper and wood because these materials have a natural, more environmentally friendly image. We think that a closed system of plastic products, based
on reuse and recycling, is indeed sustainable. We prove it with our Hanger Loop and Poly Loop processes.”
Which current technology or trend do you think has the most positive impact on long-term sustainability?
“We believe in reuse and recycling. By recycling and reusing raw materials, we can also increase sustainability indirectly.”
What do you think the world will look like 10 years from now when it comes to sustainability? And what do you hope it will look like?
“The carbon footprint of a company will play an even more important role and a greater influence on its market position. Not only within the company, but also in the entire supply chain.”
What is Mainetti’s role in this?
“Our role as market leader is to continue to think ahead and develop. We will continue to roll out and develop our recycling processes, especially Poly Loop, in terms of e.g. global accessibility.”