‘The innovative power and sustainable commitment of Koehler are impressive,’ said German state secretary Thomas Bareiß after a plant visit and presentation by Koehler Group CEO Kai Furler. Together with Willi Stächele, member of the Landtag (regional state parliament), Thomas Bareiß had just taken an in-depth look at the Oberkirch, Germany based paper manufacturer’s operations.
Willi Stächele has been close to the company for many decades. As the former mayor of Oberkirch, where Koehler has its headquarters, he has been able to follow the company’s successful development closely. The construction of a new papermachine and coating machine is the next chapter in this story. These have just entered into commission and will play an important part in the company’s orientation towards sustainable business and action.
In a short presentation, CEO Kai Furler, representing the family business’ eighth generation, explained the company’s strategy, which has focused consistently on sustainability for several years. He looked not only at the paper side of the business, but also at innovations, renewable energy and the new business areas into which Koehler is tapping. The new production line 8 plays an important role here.
The area of flexible packaging paper is of particularly great importance and is a driver for the company’s large scale investment at the Kehl site. Koehler is beginning to produce this type of paper and is developing barrier paper, which, once functional coatings are applied, can be used as coverings in packaging instead of plastics. ‘The advantage of these papers is that they can be recycled as waste paper,’ said Kai Furler. This is not the case for the composite material that is currently in use.
Paper plays an important role in closing material cycles. It has always been considered a material that is particularly suited to multiple recycling and there are effective and efficient recycling systems for paper in most European countries. Around 75 perce of overall paper consumption is recycled in Germany alone.
Papers that are based on recycled waste paper fiber have an additional environmental benefit and are used to good purpose where 100% virgin fibre content is not required (ie applications not having direct contact with foodstuffs). Furthermore, paper production uses an unlimited source of renewable raw material that does not compete with the acreage used in food production.