Q&A: Luc Smeets, Director of Marketing, Ranpak EMEA
Ranpak is a global leader of sustainable, paper-based on-demand protective packaging solutions for e-commerce, retail and industrial business, big and small.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
My name is Luc Smeets. I’m EMEA Marketing Director at Ranpak, a global leader in sustainable packaging listed at the New York Stock Exchange. In my job I’m responsible for product innovation, marketing our solutions to existing applications as well as developing new segments.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
Ranpak is a global leader of sustainable, paper-based on-demand protective packaging solutions for e-commerce, retail and industrial business, big and small. Since 1972, we have become experts in the paper packaging industry, delivering the highest quality of protective packaging while preserving our commitment to sustainability. All of our natural packaging solutions are 100% recyclable, renewable and biodegradable. Our solutions prevent goods from being damaged during transport while improving packaging efficiency, resulting in significant cost savings.
Our mission is bringing supply chains in balance with the environment and deliver protective packaging solutions that are good for the world, and good for the bottom line.
What’s special about your products and your approach?
Ranpak’s systems are 100% paper based to protect goods for shipment and are a sustainable alternative to the traditionally used plastics or foam. All our protective paper solutions are 100% is renewable, biodegradable and curbside recyclable.
In 2020, Ranpak produced over 120,000 metric tons of paper packaging material. Most of this paper will after use be recycled and the small amount that is not recycled will naturally biodegrade. This results in 120,000 metric tons of packaging material that was not plastic and with that 120,000 metric tons of packaging that is circular and doesn’t pollute the natural environment.
What advantage does it add?
We strive to satisfy the protective packaging needs of the present without adversely affecting conditions for future generations.
How does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
Most of our paper products are delivered in rolls or packs to our end-users and at the packing location of the customer converted into the final shape to form its protective properties through compact, safe and efficient converters. This saves up to seven times transport and storage cost compared to preforming the paper at our production sites. This on-demand concept not only saves significant cost but also reduces the environmental footprint substantially.
Leveraging the acceleration in e-commerce and retail, our goal is to position Ranpak to direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands as a significant upgrade over the current non-sustainable plastic or foam packaging used by many other brands. The Buying Green Report showed that 59% of the consumers are less likely to buy products in harmful packaging.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?
As global product leader in the paper wrapping segment, Ranpak is one of the first to offer a truly viable, protective alternative to Bubble Wrap that is both cost efficient and 100% curbside recyclable. Being used in many industries worldwide, our customer can tell the story.
Are there other companies you partner with?
Globally we have over 30.000 customers. From the largest retailers to small e-commerce start-up companies.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2021?
In the current and post-COVID environment, e-commerce sales are expected to garner a greater share of total retail sales globally as consumers increasingly look to purchase products online to practice social distancing with more convenient direct-to-consumer online shopping options. E-commerce has the challenge to reduce its environmental footprint. This provides significant opportunities for our sustainable solutions. On the other hand stores need to enhance their customer experience to attract consumer. We believe that for both segments we have a broad portfolio of protective packaging solutions to support UK retail in this journey.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
Our renewable, biodegradable and curbside recyclable packaging is driving DTC purchasing decisions as consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable packaging to align with their priorities and values. The Buying Green Report indicates that 57% of the people associate plastic with harmful.
Driven by both corporate and consumer demand for sustainable packaging, Ranpak’s e-commerce business is seeing strong demand and growth globally – and we are uniquely positioned to grow the business in the short and long-term. Although the outlook is uncertain and rapidly evolving, Ranpak is in a solid position to weather the effects of COVID also in 2021.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
We sit at the intersection of three mega-trends – sustainability, e-commerce and automation – so I couldn’t be more excited about the long-term growth opportunities for this company. Sustainability is embedded into our DNA and is at the core of what we do internally and for our customers.
Retail is new for Ranpak. What made you decide to commit to this business model?
We’ve done quite a bit of research and heard repeatedly how consumers are increasingly interested in more sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based products like bubble and foam sheets. As we have discussions with different partners, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.
Talk about the products you’ve commercialized and how they fit in the market.
When you’re packing vulnerable items, wrapping is essential to protect against scratching, surface abrasion and minor handling incidents. Our patented Geami® process converts environmentally friendly paper into highly effective protective packaging. Geami die-cut kraft paper expands into a 3D honeycomb structure during packing, and soft tissue paper can be added when required – to increase protection and enhance the unboxing experience.
Over the past years Geami sales have quickly accelerated, especially in the e-commerce B2B segment. There is however still a huge bubble wrap market out there to convert to sustainable wrapping solutions like Geami.
In order to support and boost this journey we have launched 2 new products recently: Geami Sheets and the Geami Exbox. Both products are targeted towards Retail B2B in order to tap better into this new segment. Furthermore we plan to launch a specific Geami product for the B2C segment later this year, e.g. targeting DIY stores to provide a green alternative to the bubble wrap that is widely sold over there.
To find out how Ranpak can help your retail operation, click here.
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