Ready for the future – Preforms and now also closures from Riyadh

Future Plus in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is the sister company of the Abu Dhabi, UAE-based processor Future Plast Industries LLC. Both are part of the Saudi Printing & Packaging Company (SPPC) which is a prominent provider of packaging and printing solutions in the Middle East. The company is listed on the Saudi Arabian Stock Exchange, employs 1,450 people, and operates 14 manufacturing facilities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. SPPC’s portfolio comprises five main categories: preforms and closures for the beverage industry, flexible packaging and labels, films and pouches, cups, containers, cling film and food packaging solutions, and commercial printing. Its customers include well-known brands such as Almarai, Abar Water, Pure Beverages, Pepsi, Lays, Burger King and McDonald’s amongst many more.

Closure inspection with equipment from IMD Vista
February 19, 2024: Meeting with Future Plus Industries LLC (part of SPPC Group)
We met: Mr Murali Krishna, General Manager Future Plus & Future Plast & Mr Shihab Izzat, Sales Head KSA

The company’s sustainability strategy involves creating packaging solutions that utilise renewable, recyclable, recycled, and biodegradable materials. PETplanet was able to meet Mr Murali Krishna, General Manager of Future Plus and Future Plast, in Riyadh.

First a look back. Future Plast started its business in 2009 with a plant in Sharjah, UAE, later relocated to its current headquarters in Abu Dhabi and, with the Future Plus plant, expanded its radius of action beyond the country’s borders into neighbouring Saudi Arabia from 2012 in order to better exploit the potential there and respond to the growing needs of this increasingly open and developing country. GM Murali Krishna, is a chemistry graduate with a postgraduate diploma in Plastics Processing Technology from India’s Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering. After eight years of professional experience in India in various roles, his career took him to Saudi Arabia, Germany and China with Zamil Plastics and Essel Propack from 1994 to 2003, before moving to the UAE in 2003. He worked at Intergulf, Iffco Group as Business Development Manager until 2010 and then moved to the Enpi Group, where he was General Manager of the preforms and closures business. He has worked in the plastics and packaging industry for 36 years and has led many projects, including weight reduction of preforms and more exotic projects such as processing PLA material for water bottles, a true pioneering project launched in 2020. He currently heads both Future Plus and Future Plast as General Manager.

Freshly produced 29/25 closures in a trendy purple colour

From Riyadh city centre, it takes around 45 minutes, traffic permitting, to reach the “Second Industrial Area”, where the Future Plus plant is located. The plant, which employs 25 people and covers an area of 5,000 m2, produces 30/25 high neck and 29/25 short neck preforms on three Husky HyPET 400 systems, each with 96 cavities. Around 900 million units per year, so far exclusively for bottlers of still water, are packaged in recyclable mesh boxes for the local market and an export section in one way jumbo gaylord boxes. “Another five HyPET systems with 96 cavities each are currently running in Abu Dhabi,” explained Mr Krishna. The Abu Dhabi facility is fully approved by Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Nestlé.

A new addition to the Saudi machine park is an Engel E-Motion 380 injection moulding machine for closures, which was ordered in 2023 and has just started production. It is equipped with a 72-cavity mould with a cycle time of 2.8 seconds from the Austrian manufacturer Z-Moulds.

Three Husky HyPET systems and on the right the new Engel E-Motion

 With this combination, an annual output of almost 730 million 29/25-size closures can be achieved. Mr Krishna said: “Moulds like this are almost a rarity in this country, but we are convinced by the Austrian technology, especially in terms of quality and the mould’s cooling system.” For the inspection part, Future Plus relies on equipment from IMD Vista, both for the Engel system and the Husky systems for preform inspection. While the Engel system is the first machine for cap injection moulding in operation here, Future Plast in UAE produces single piece and 2-piece closures with an 1881 neck finish for CSD apart from normal 30/25 high neck and 29/25 short neck for still water applications using six Sacmi compression moulding machines – so the step to add closures to the portfolio in KSA with the new system may just be the beginning. In terms of space, further expansion is still easily possible, as the available open areas clearly showed during the factory tour. PET and PE raw materials are sourced from local producer Sabic, and are also imported from Thailand, India, Oman or China, depending on availability and prices. According to Mr Krishna, the company processes 10,000 t of PET and around 800 t/a of PE p.a. or 30,000 t of PET and around 4,000 t of PE and PP for closures p.a. including Abu Dhabi.

The new 72-cavity mould from Z-Moulds

“In addition to the Saudi market, around 25% of the preforms produced in Riyadh are intended for export exclusively to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Yemen markets mainly due to Saudi efforts to strengthen primarily nationally produced products,” Mr Krishna continued.

We want to know how the company is positioned in terms of recycling. “The law does not yet insist on the use of recyclate in food packaging,” explained Mr Krishna, “but this is certainly only a matter of time. The topic has already gained momentum in the region and we are certainly technically equipped for it. At Future Plast, we have already produced our first 100% rPET preforms and are currently waiting for a material dosing system with oil condensing unit from Piovan to be ready to dose partial rPET as per the brand owner’s requirements.

F.l.t.r.: Murali Krishna, Mr Palanisamy, Gregor Degasperi (Z-Moulds), Kay Barton (PETplanet) and Shihab Izzat