EXCLUSIVE: In a game-changing move for sustainable packaging and recycling, O F Packaging and Close the Loop are joining forces to form – and ASX list – the new entity Close the Loop Group.
The merger of O F Packaging and Close the Loop, two well-established, sustainability-focused businesses known as innovators in their respective industries, marks a significant step forward for Australia’s circular economy.
For Close the Loop, which has existing resource collection and recycling operations in Australia, Europe and the United States, merging with O F Packaging and its extensive business divisions in Australia and South Africa has provided an opportunity for the group to list on the Australian Stock Exchange at the end of 2021.
The merger and listing will establish Close the Loop Group as a key participant in the global circular economy, notably for flexible plastic packaging, processing, recycling, and refurbishment of consumable products such as printer cartridges.
Close the Loop Group intends to provide end-to-end solutions for brand owners, from the design and manufacturing of packaging and products, through to collection and recovery, processing, recycling, and production of secondary products that reduce waste to landfill.
The new entity will be headed up by packaging industry veteran and managing director of O F Packaging, Joe Foster, who will be CEO of Close the Loop Group.
“O F Packaging and Close the Loop were already collaborating on a number of sustainability projects in the soft plastics space and saw the opportunities that existed between both business entities for growth,” Foster tells PKN.
“Our goals and industry positions complemented each other so well. As a supplier and manufacturer of packaging, O F Packaging recognised and embraced our role in providing sustainable solutions to the market, and we were looking to further invest in recovery and the use of recycled materials. This fit perfectly with the work that Close the Loop is doing,” Foster says.
“Merging the two companies allows us to create a business suited for the circular economy and gets us closer to achieving the holy grail of recycling packaging back into packaging,” he adds.
Close the Loop founder Steve Morriss says, “The Circular Economy is about collaboration throughout the supply chain to achieve reduced environmental and social impacts for delivery of products and services.”
Morriss says the Close the Loop and O F Packaging circular integration brings design, manufacture, and end of life management under the one roof. This gives customers a one stop, circular economy shop.
“It provides easier processes for verified data capture and reporting, circular supply chain management, and reduces cost,” he adds.
Tom Ogonek, CEO of the USA Operations concurs with Foster and Morriss, and adds, “By owning the infrastructure to create, recover and reuse, Close the Loop Group is unique compared to others in the space, both in packaging and the recovery of hard to recycle products.
EXPANDING COLLECTION & RECOVERY
With over 260,000 current print consumable collection sites across the US, Canada, Australia and Europe, the newly merged Close the Loop Group is positioned as the leader in the recovery, recycling, and reuse of cartridges, inks and toners for multinational clients such as HP, Brother, Canon, and Xerox.
The expansion of these collection and recovery systems within the urban mining sector will see the Group also involved in cosmetics recycling, as well as the take-back of e-waste, power tools, phone cases, eyewear, and other hard-to-recycle waste streams that can be used as end-of-life commodities.
The merger will see Close the Loop Group become the largest users of post-consumer soft plastic waste in Australia, with Close the Loop having made large contributions to circular economy ideology with its TonerPlas asphalt-additive and rFlex recycled plastic resin product. TonerPlas is already being used by multiple councils throughout Australia, with current projects involving the upgrades to the Monash Freeway and the M80 in Melbourne.
TonerPlas has, according to Close the Loop Group, been scientifically proven to extend the longevity of roads by up to 30 per cent, while using large quantities of post-consumer soft plastic and toner waste that would otherwise be destined for landfill.
On the flexible packaging front, the use of recyclable films as well as recycled content has been a key focus in 2021 across the individual business units within O F Packaging and will continue to evolve with the merger, Foster says. Customers will have the opportunity to explore sustainability and packaging training sessions with the Group and tap into the expertise of the greater team for new packaging innovation projects.
These include products such as the award-winning, circular economy spout pouch packaging for household and personal care brand Zero Co, and the kerbside recyclable stand-up pouch for Byron-Bay based Brookfarm (which won two gold awards at this year’s Packaging Innovation and Design Awards, as well as a coveted finalist spot in the Packaging Europe Sustainability Awards for 2021).
The timing for the merger couldn’t be better. Close the Loop Group has an established global presence and a profitable business model, refined by an experienced and founder-led executive team. In the Board’s view, the Group is “set for growth in a time of rapid voluntary and mandated action towards carbon and waste reduction, which has given rise to favourable tailwinds”.
The collective businesses within the Group directly address key global initiatives, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) 25 Climate Actions, the 2025 National Waste Targets set by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), the EU Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), and general regulations on plastics and waste (including Producer Responsibility legislation).
Foster says there will be great opportunities for brand owners to collaborate with Close the Loop Group for sustainability initiatives, such as individual collection and recycling programs for products and packaging waste, helping companies to meet Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria and satisfy any current or future legislation.
With overwhelming interest already generated from initial investor groups, Close the Loop Group is well positioned to hit the ground running and expand its current operations in the urban mining sector across Australia, the United States, Belgium, and South Africa.
Foster says that following the ASX listing, the Group intends to make further strategic acquisitions where attractive opportunities arise, to achieve growth across new regions, while increasing its breadth of offering in multiple markets.
Close the Loop Group has its sights set on being a global market leader in the circular economy by providing end-to-end solutions for a variety of products and packaging formats. The Group will provide closed-loop systems for using recycled content, contributing towards its current commitment of zero waste to landfill.