1 Sept 2003
Bagging A Green Future(HKTDC Packaging, Vol 02,2003)
A Good Impression
A Green Future
Creative Pak Industrial Co Ltd
|Plastic packaging produced by Creative Pak Industrial Co Ltd can be recycled five times before being turned into a variety of useful products|
Creativity and a passion for the environment are the forces that motivate Felix Lam, founder and managing director of aptly named Creative Pak Industrial Co Ltd.
"I would rather concentrate on new concepts and better quality and service than compete on price," says Lam, who admits he is focused on overseas markets.
"The US was my biggest market in the past and I've tried to diversify, but it still represents about 50% of my business, although we're now selling to more than 38 countries worldwide."
One reason for pursuing a broader range of markets, according to Lam, is that US buyers are concerned primarily with price and Creative Pak prefers to work with customers who share its environmental interests.
"I find that in Europe people are more concerned about the environment, so there is a very good reaction to my interest in recycled packaging," he explains. "I also have two major customers in Japan who agree with my ideas."
Although Creative Pak does produce a limited amount of paper packaging, for the last 18 years Lam has been on a crusade to persuade his customers to shift over to plastic.
He points out that only a limited amount of all paper used is - or can be - recycled, leading inevitably to the cutting down of more trees, while plastics can be recycled several times.
"We can use recycled material for five generations and then the sixth time you can still use it for items like flowerpots, insoles for shoes, door frames or tables," Lam explains. "There are many things you can do, but paper can only be reycycled for about three generations and then it's gone."
This concern inspired a Creative Pak innovation of which Lam is particularly proud: the company was the first to make bottle bags for carrying bottles of wine from plastic rather than non-recyclable laminated card.
"Plastic can look just like paper, but it's longer lasting, waterproof, cheaper than laminated card, and you can recycle it," he observes. "We have customers from Spain and Portugal, while in Japan they also order our bags for sake."
The company believes strongly in working with customers to achieve its environmental goals. Where possible Creative Pak produces bags with all components - handles, drawstrings, liners and so on - made from the same family of plastics so they can be recycled easily through a single machine.
The company will even undertake the recycling process for its customers, using machinery designed by Lam himself. "If any customer wants to return bags to recycle we're happy to get them," he observes. "At the moment I have two recycling machines which work round the clock and I'm adding a more powerful one."
The same environmental principles are behind the design of the company's new factory in Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland, where around 500 staff are employed.
Lam combined the factory premises with an orchard of about 100 fruit trees and a small farm with some 100 chickens, five pigs and a fish tank. As a result, the factory is self sufficient in fruit, leftover food is fed to the animals and the environment is relaxing and creative.
The innovative facility currently produces about 25 TEUs per month of plastic bags, gift bags, cosmetic bags and related products delivered 4-6 weeks after order confirmation.
Creative Pak is a major supplier of gift bags to Hawaii and is doing increasing volumes of business with countries ranging from the Czech and Dominican Republics to Russia and Turkey, as well as Europe, the US and many other far-flung markets.
"We try to create our own designs, and major customers also have their own designs," he notes. "For example, we have been making bags for Burberry for more than 20 years, and we do quite a few other brand names as well."
Sometimes the brand's requirements mean that Lam is obliged to use card or paper, but only if he is unable to persuade the customer to try another route. "I have to satisfy the needs of the customer, but wherever possible I will try to persuade them to go for plastic," Lam admits. "I think there is a better future for poly-packaging in Europe than for paper, but as long as I'm in this industry I will continue to promote the recycling concept."
WRITTEN BY ROBERT PIERCE
Creative Pak Industrial Co Ltd
Flat C, 25/F, Blk 4
Golden Dragon Ind Centre
182-190 Tai Lin Pai Rd
Kwai Chung, New Territories
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