Setting the foundations

Projects and solutions from prototyping to the finished bottle – Interview with Olivier Serre, Managing Director at Competek

In the middle of the pandemic, PET Engineering and Comep announced their merger, becoming Competek. For almost exactly a year now, Competek has been advising customers on mould, bottle and preform design or tethered caps and turning these designs into a reality. PET planet wanted to know whether their strategy of “one partner, lower costs, quick delivery times” has been a successful one.

PETplanet: It has been a year since PET Engineering and Comep merged, addressing the food, beverage and homecare market under the company name Competek. How has the company performed since the merger?
Olivier Serre: On June 1, Competek celebrated its first birthday – how time has flown! Launching a new company is by definition a big challenge, but when the creation of a new entity involves the merger of two big the industry like PET Engineering and Comep, well, the challenge is even bigger. It has been critical that the transition period has been handled correctly in order to avoid losing the strong relationships with existing customers, especially during the pandemic. Over the past 12 months the team has worked hard to communicate with them about our existing sustainable solutions, as well as informing them about our new positioning and capabilities to be their one stop shop for all their packaging, moulds and line conversion needs. We have started to set the foundations for our future development, working on some R&D projects to make the lives of our customers easier.

PETplanet: Are there any interesting projects in the PET bottle sector that you have been involved in that you can tell us about?
Olivier Serre: Yes, of course. In 2021, we worked on many interesting projects, some more challenging than others but they all helped us to build our team and build a strong reputation in the market. At the current time, we are not allowed to discuss many of them as they are not launched in the market yet and are still confidential.
However, we are more than happy to share one of our recent successes: the new packaging for Molson Coors Bulgarian beer brand Burgasko, Astika e Kamenitza. The customer brief was to provide a modern twist to the packaging of these three brands. The challenge was to find a way to differentiate the three brands while keeping the same shape.
Competek, in collaboration with Gentlebrand design agency, proposed to keep one shape for the packaging but in fewer sizes, 1 l, 2 l and 2.3 l format only. Then to further differentiate the products on the shelf, each brand’s packaging would be adorned with refined decorations on the body of the bottle to make them really stand out from the crowd, as well as some some eye-catching labels which were designed by Gentlebrand.
Competek was also involved in the delivery of a series of six moulds where the customer’s existing lines were taken into consideration in the design phase. This ensured that any format change activity was optimised, reducing down-time and utilising parts of the existing mould where possible, thus helping the customer to save costs.

PETplanet: Many companies in the value chain are struggling with high material and energy costs. What technologies can you provide to help these companies?
Olivier Serre: The increase in costs of raw materials and energy is a hot topic right now, but we are more than ready to support customers with various different solutions. The 30-years’ field experience of our team makes Competek the perfect partner to develop the perfect lightweight bottle, without compromising the performance and subsequently the consumer experience. With our Husky machine to make preforms, our four blowing machines and our certified lab, we have the right means to develop the new generation of bottles.
Another important technology I would like to draw your attention to is the exclusive Starlite base combined with Supervent technology. For the first time ever, this technology is available for all blowers on the market, whatever the brand. This is something everyone should be aware of because it allows cost savings in terms of materials and energy without requiring a total redesign of the packaging. It is also applicable to existing bottles and moulds. The combination of Starlite Base with Supervent allows the manufacturer to reduce the blowing pressure up to 30% for a 0.5 l bottle and up to 20% for a 1.5 l bottle. In terms of materials, it will shave off about 1 g for the 0.5 l bottle and up to 2 g for the 1.5 l bottle equating to a saving of about € 1 to € 2 on every 1,000 bottles.

PETplanet: You combine Supervent with Sidel’s Starlite Base Solution. What other advantages can be generated from this, in addition to material and energy savings?
Olivier Serre: In addition to energy and material savings, the combination of Starlite Base and Supervent helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the bottle from 4.8 kg to 2.4 kg CO2 GHG emissions for every 1,000 bottles. Overall, the bottle base is easier to blow thanks to a wider process window, improving the stability as well as stress cracking resistance.
Starlite base is available for many different applications based on the customer requirements; from flat products to carbonated, including dairy, juices and home/personal care.

PETplanet: Your company also offers expertise in preforms and tethered caps. How do you approach the transition to tethered caps with clients who have not yet done anything in this direction yet?
Olivier Serre: Competek’s packaging team provides a professional consultancy service to customers on how to convert their packaging to a preform and the in-house certified laboratory means we can provide solid evidence, not just theoretical suggestions. When it comes to preforms, we provide the standard tests associated with dimension checking but also more specific tests, such as DSC and IV tests, both on the preforms available on the market and on those developed and injected in-house using Husky machinery. It all depends on the customer requirements.
The European SUP directive stipulates that European companies should adopt the tethered cap so manufacturers will need to take action and implement this soon. This could also be the right opportunity to revamp packaging, reduce the weight or adjust those that are not performing well. Competek has developed a tool that allows the customer to evaluate their investments taking into consideration the line parameters, the type of packaging, and the modifications required, which then helps to understand the ROI. A win-win scenario for the customer: make your packaging more sustainable and understand from the outset when you will get a return on investment. It’s worth mentioning that Competek line conversion services have no brand limitation, therefore the customer with mixed lines can count on one unique supplier providing all the parts and the installation with minimum downtime. This is our value add: one partner, lower costs, quick delivery times.

PETplanet: For rPET, you offer a protocol that customers can use to work through all open questions, from preform performance to the blow moulding process and legal compliance. In an earlier interview, you told us that customers were particularly concerned that the performance of a bottle could suffer from a conversion from virgin PET to rPET. Is this still the case or are there perhaps other concerns that have come to the fore?
Olivier Serre: With our certified lab, we support customers in testing the performance of a specific batch of recycled material, therefore analysing also the quality, safety and performance of the final bottle and give the customer the correct blowing process. What we see right now is that manufacturers are worried about the uncertainty of the performance for sure, but they are also worried about the colour of the final bottle that could impact on the brand image and on the overall cost of the raw material which is higher than the virgin PET at the moment.

PETplanet: Thank you very much!

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