Telford manufacturer reveals roadmap for sustainable growth

One of Europe’s largest manufacturers of household waste bags is targeting further growth after seeing sales rise during the pandemic.

Cedo’s John Parkes, Rukii Abrams, Nicola Punchard and Martin Burdekin outside the premises in Halesfield
Cedo’s John Parkes, Rukii Abrams, Nicola Punchard and Martin Burdekin outside the premises in Halesfield

Cedo has plans to introduce new products and increase the amount of recycled content it uses in its products.

It comes as demand for its household products grew significantly last year as more people stayed at home during the lockdowns.

Cedo operates out of three manufacturing facilities – Telford, Poland and Vietnam – and five trading offices located throughout UK and Europe. It employs 2,000 people worldwide, including about 300 people in Telford.

Its UK branch in Telford consists of two manufacturing sites. Halesfield 11 is the main site and head office where it mainly manufactures refuse sacks and indoor pedal bin liners, and Halesfield 19, where it makes a variety of food wrap products like cling film.

Commercial director Martin Burdekin said: “We have got plans to expand the business and each of our sites has got a capital investment plan.

“One of our key plans is to feed our products with more recycled content. We’ve been doing some research on a product that is a bit more coloured and uses more recycled material.”

Commercial director Martin Burdekin inside the Telford plant

Cedo sources supplies of recycled materials from a dedicated recycling centre based in Holland. Its recycling centre re-processes films from household, industry and agricultural waste. More recently Cedo has announced an expansion of this facility, to double the amount of re-processed waste plastic film in order to fuel continued growth across all markets, including the UK, and honour its environmental commitments.

Cedo supplies to the major supermarket and online retailer such as Asda, Morrison’s, Co-op, Waitrose, Ocado and Amazon and also to wholesale and cleaning and hygiene outlets, such as food service and janitorial services.

In addition to private label applications, it markets its product range under its Paclan, Polylina and Good Karma (eco) brands.

Last month, Cedo launched the UK’s first antibacterial refuse sack for domestic use. Called Good Karma Antibac, the refuse sacks have launched in Morrisons supermarkets in the UK, before expanding across Europe and the UK over the next 12 months.

“We’ve created our very own Good Karma brand made with 100 per cent recycled plastic,” said Mr Burdekin.

“We’ve created a fully circular refuse sack that can help reduce the spread of deadly bacteria like E.coli and S.aureus. At this time of year, as cold and flu germs are on the rise, this is the perfect way to improve the safe handling and disposal of household waste."

Focusing on B2B (Business to Business) flat bags is deputy production manager Steve Panter

More than 23 per cent of Cedo’s global operations now use 100 per cent renewable energy. Its UK business, based in Telford, has also achieved its target of sending zero manufacturing waste to landfill. Cedo’s sites in Vietnam, Poland and the Netherlands are also on target to achieve climate neutrality over the next few years.

“Cedo’s aim is to become a climate neutral business worldwide by 2030. By increasing our use of renewable energy year-on-year while focusing our efforts on achieving zero manufacturing waste to landfill, we are making rapid progress towards our goal,” said Rik De Vos, CEO of Cedo.

“Our next ambition is to continue to pursue a more circular approach in our stewardship of raw materials, while creating a sustainable business that is no longer reliant on fossil fuel-based virgin polymers.

“In the very near future every Cedo non-food product will be fully recycled and recyclable. We believe that keeping our homes clean, safe and tidy in an environmentally-friendly way should be as simple as putting out the bins.”

Recently, at its Telford site it invested in new chiller and compressor systems that will reduce its energy consumption by 40 per cent. It has also upgraded its internal recycling plant and modernised equipment it has had had for years to keep them in service.

Tie handle refuse bags

Mr Burdekin said the business remains in a strong position despite challenges with Brexit, supply chains and the pandemic.

“Demand grew significantly over night with more people being at home during the pandemic. We were sitting on stocks and they just went,” he said.

“We had the idea of launching on Amazon in the March when the pandemic hit. We launched a month later and things really took off. Sales are slightly ahead of pre-Covid levels. We have also just launched with Ocado and that is an area that is growing.

“With Brexit, we did over plan as we were expecting a hard Brexit but it was a bit of a damp squib in the end and the impacts have been minimal.

“In terms of supply of materials, out of here we’re fine and out of Poland we’re fine. It’s not like we’re not meeting demand, we’re meeting demand later. But we’re still getting good stock in.”

Site director John Parkes focusing on draw string bags

Jon Parkes, site director, said: “We had a really good year last year from a sales perspective.

“At one time we had 25 to 30 per cent of staff not in the plant, that was a challenge.

“It was testament to the dedication of the team that they were going above and beyond and kept doing what they were doing in bad circumstances. The team was just dragging the business along. What the team achieved was second to none.”

Among the success stories for the business has been its apprenticeships programme.

Multi-skilled engineer Dale Cronin joined four years ago on a fully-funded apprenticeship, which he has now completed; leading to his promotion three months ago.

He is responsible for ensuring all factory machinery is in full working order, operating safely and fit for purpose by ensuring all planned maintenance activities are completed successfully.

“Apprenticeships have been a real positive for us. Anyone we take on as an apprentice, our intention is that they stay on with us," Mr Parkes added.

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