A Worcestershire firm that fills everything from screenwash to soft drinks in flexible spouted pouches to cut plastic use by up to 85% is celebrating its first anniversary with a contract to sustainably package a leading motorcycle engine oil.
Project 7 has won the contract to fill and package one of the best-selling motorcycle maintenance products in the Silkolene range to support parent company FUCHS’s commitment to a circular economy for plastics.
Manufactured in Stoke-on-Trent, the range of one-litre engine oils in the new-look flexible pouch packaging will make their debut on retail shelves this year.
Co-founder Erik Molinario (pictured above) said: “We are thrilled to work with FUCHS, a global leader in automotive lubricants. Distinctly, we are the only contract filler specialising in flexible packaging in the whole of the UK and this was very attractive to FUCHS, which strives to lead the way in sustainable practices.
“Not many companies know we offer this full turnkey service and that they do not need to import their own pouches from Europe. It’s fantastic to see growing recognition of what we do in our first year of business and we look forward to building new partnerships with manufacturers of all sizes from across the sectors.”
According to the Ellen McArthur Foundation, which promotes a circular economy to eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials and regenerate nature, flexible packaging is now the world’s fastest-growing plastic packaging category.
Manufacturers are increasingly moving away from plastic-heavy rigid packaging to make progress towards 2025 plastic packaging targets and beyond.
To put into context, a recent Project 7 customer trial with a national automative retailer showed that if they were to change all of their existing five-litre screenwash products from rigid to flexible packaging, it would save 194 tonnes of plastic each year, 69% less plastic. Less material used would also result in up to 95% less waste.
Joost van Genderen, head of Silkolene’s motorcycle division, said: “FUCHS continuously looks towards new technologies to increase our sustainability and reduce our impact on the environment.
“Across our Silkolene motorcycle range, we have switched all of our 20-litre and four-litre plastic packaging to our 100% recyclable Lube Cube packaging. This change has allowed FUCHS UK to save over 1.3 million kilos in single-use plastics.
“The next step is to add the one-litre pouch packaged by Project 7 to the range to further reduce our use of single-use plastics and help us towards our goal of completely cutting out single use plastic containers from our product range by 2023.”
Project 7 was launched in 2021 with start-up support of £30,000 from the Worcestershire Proof of Concept Project funding scheme. The company can fill 10ml to five-litre flexible spouted pouches, as well as up to 20-litre bags in boxes.
Retailers such as Aldi through to niche brands such as Silverback bike cleaning products have all come on board and the contract with FUCHS marks a key milestone in the company’s growth.
As part of its expansion, Project 7 is ramping up its filling lines to six – with the capacity to fill four million units per line – at its high-speed production facility on the Keytec 7 Business Park on the edge of Pershore.
Plans are also under way for a second production site, also in the Midlands, in 2023. This will more than double the size of the company’s production capacity. Overall, this is expected to generate 30-40 jobs for the local community, from machine operatives to packers, as well as sales roles.
Raised in the Italian Alps, Erik was always drawn to nature and sustainable living. Later in life, he became vegan to play his part in combating climate change. In 1997, he moved to England, mastering his expertise in manufacturing. It was looking at how to make packaging more innovative that he first had the idea for Project 7.
“I was looking at how to make packaging more practical, but alongside this, I noticed how sustainability was becoming an important topic,” he said. “My niece won a school competition to create a recycling design for bin lorries and it got me really thinking. I knew the younger generations would be the ones to save the planet, but we could certainly do our bit.
“The ongoing challenge is that flexible packaging is amazing for drastically reducing plastic use. However, it is largely single use and we are working hard to educate the consumer in recycling properly. One way we hope to do this is by introducing clear information on the front of our pouches, which isn’t currently being done in the industry and way too much so-called recyclable plastic ends up in landfill.”
Project 7 supports major retailers and multiple brands across the automotive, detergent and DIY, personal care, pet care, agrochemical and beverages sectors to make the crucial move to more sustainable packaging.
To find out more, Project 7 will be demonstrating at the British Contract Manufacturers and Packers Association (BCMPA) stand (D46) at the Packaging Innovations and Empack trade show from May 25-26 at the NEC in Birmingham.