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2018 saw Spectra celebrate its tenth anniversary with a year packed with significant landmarks.

Building on a successful 2017, the company looked to take the next step with continued growth as it entered another chapter in its remarkable history.

Expanding for the future

Building work on a new 24,000 sq ft facility, which commenced in April 2017, was completed in early 2018, with new machinery installed and fully operational in March.

The new state-of-the-art unit, which effectively doubles Spectra’s manufacturing space, was yet further evidence of the company’s boundless ambitions according to Joe Maynard, the firm's Managing Director.

He said, “For ten years we have have been brave enough to make key decisions to keep pushing the business to new levels. Regular appointments in key personnel and significant investment in the latest technology and additional machinery has ensured the business has never stood still. I firmly believe the factory expansion further illustrates our ambitious intentions”.

Spectra’s entire site was initially set up to support up to 200,000 sq ft of factory site when it was completed in 2011. The latest expansion programme has also seen wise provision made for an additional 24,000 sq ft unit to be attached to the side of the new building to satisfy anticipated future customer demand.

Birthday celebrations

In May of last year Spectra officially opened the new manufacturing unit with a customer visit day to commemorate their tenth anniversary.

A number of valued customers attended the special day with a guided tour of the entire factory. The day was then rounded off with drinks and a celebratory evening dinner, with customers and Spectra staff members relaxing with an enjoyable informal night at a hotel in Bury. St. Edmunds. The following month Spectra staff were invited to celebrate the company’s landmark anniversary with a fun boat party trip on the Norfolk Broads, organised by the company.

Joe said, “The two events were our way of saying a huge thank you to those loyal customers who have supported us over the last ten years and employees whose continued hard work has contributed to the company’s success”.

Taking the environmental lead

Much like the previous year, 2018 saw unprecedented media focus concerning the environmental impact of plastics.

Although Spectra has always built the foundations of its business on operating as a responsible manufacturer, last year the company decided to take decisive action to encourage customers to move to more environmentally friendly options for their product packaging.

Early in the year, the company announced PCR10, a bold mandatory opt-out scheme that will see 10% recycled materials added to all future products. With an understanding that plastics manufacturers typically left sustainable decisions in the hands of brand owners and retailers, Spectra decided to seize the initiative by taking the lead, switching the emphasis back.

Although customers can actively opt out of the PCR10 scheme if they so wish, Spectra firmly believes it is the perfect introduction to the environmental benefits of Post Consumer Recycled (PCR) materials, as Joe went on to explain.

“For many years we have championed the benefits of PCR as well as other sustainable alternatives like sugarcane-based biopolymers. However, as a responsible manufacturer of plastics, we felt we had a duty to do more than simply say we could offer such materials, we needed to take the lead”.

As well as the launch of PCR10 last year, Spectra also continued to evaluate and scrutinise internal measures to further minimise their environmental impact as a manufacturer.

One such example was the removal in their factory of unnecessary single-use items such as plastic disposable hot and cold drinks cups and stirrers. An internal review revealed that nearly 60,000 were used in the previous year alone and the company strongly felt that multi-use alternative needed to be used instead as it looked to lead by example. Additionally, the company is also looking to phase out disposable hair nets and ear plugs in favour of permanent ones. A strong emphasis is now in place on examining the need for any single use product used on site against the benefits it may offer

Environmental accreditations

Last year Spectra also became a fully signed up member of Operation Clean Sweep. Endorsed by the British Plastics Federation, Operation Clean Sweep is a hugely important environmental initiative committed to ensuring plastic pellets are contained on-site and do not end up in our rivers or seas. Playing its part in protecting the aquatic environment, Spectra is committed to ensuring best practices by implementing many responsible measures aimed at preventing plastic pellet loss during any of its manufacturing processes.

As well as a commitment to Operation Clean Sweep, Spectra also achieved ISO 14001 in 2018 as part of the company’s ongoing environmental initiatives.

Seen as a globally recognised sign of commitment to the preservation of the environment, the ISO 14001 certification illustrates that Spectra meet the high standards set out by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) to protect the environment. To achieve certification, the company had to demonstrate a systematic approach to environmental management and show dedication to sustainable development.

To ensure Spectra’s continued commitment to the standard, an annual external audit will be carried out by a third party to guarantee that everything is still in place and any improvements needed are addressed.

Joe said, “We are constantly looking at measures to reduce our impact and will continue to evaluate and assess how we operate in the most responsible manner possible. This is massively important to us”.

Recognition

In July Spectra’s environmental endeavours were recognised at the Suffolk Business Awards, seen as the biggest night of the year in the Suffolk business calendar.

Spectra was nominated as a finalist in the Environment and Sustainability category because of the company’s various environmental initiatives.

The Environment and Sustainability category, sponsored by the Southwold brewery Adnams, attracted a range of businesses that demonstrated a genuine commitment to protecting and enhancing the environment with principles of sustainability. Those shortlisted showed that the decisions made within their organisations considered any impact they may have on the environment.

Joe commented, “We were delighted to have been considered for the award considering the negative exposure encountered by the plastics industry during the year. To have been included as a finalist in an environmental category is incredibly heartening and further illustrates our ongoing commitment to operate as a responsible manufacturer”.

Continued export growth

Despite ongoing uncertainty regarding Brexit, Spectra continued to make huge sales inroads in several European territories in 2018.

Impressive year on year growth figures revealed notably strong sales in countries such as Germany, France, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. This was achieved by the companies dedicated export team who were again admirably aided by a network of trusted European distributors and partners.

Following a successful debut in 2017 and taking advantage of excellent progress in the vibrant French Cosmetics market, Spectra exhibited again at PCD Paris in January, an event that generated significant visitor interest to their busy show stand.

In June the company also capitalised on strong sales in Germany with a return visit to Cosmetics Business Munich after an absence of three years, again another particularly successful show.

As well as the stand-alone events in France and Germany, Spectra also appeared at two other European shows in support of their valued partners.

In April a team from Spectra appeared alongside their valued Benelux agent Covera Packaging at Empack in Utrecht in Holland. In October representatives from Spectra also worked with J. Myhre / Bipac – House of Packaging at Scanpack Gothenburg in Sweden.

Domestic exhibition success

In addition to Spectra’s successful overseas exhibitions, the company also witnessed fruitful domestic shows at Packaging Innovations Birmingham and Packaging Innovations London Olympia.

Despite adverse weather conditions, which made travelling difficult, significant numbers of visitors braved the snow to visit Packaging Innovations Birmingham in March.

Sustainability was top of the agenda at the show following calls from Government, media and consumers for packaging to be more recyclable and renewable. Spectra seized the opportunity to highlight a range of environmental initiatives at the event where they enjoyed huge visitor interest in the company’s brand new eye-catching show stand. A dedicated display on the stand highlighting their environmental endeavours proved universally successful with visitors.

In what was to be their most successful London appearance to date, Spectra again used the opportunity to illustrate a sustainable theme at Packaging Innovations Olympia London in September. Furthermore, the company’s PCR10 environmental initiative was also selected by a team of experts and elected as one of the top ten innovation highlights at the show.

New product launches

As with previous years, Spectra continued to innovate throughout 2018.

During the year, the company swelled their extensive range of off-the-shelf standards with the addition of many new pack designs. With a variety of over 200 standards available, the new additions were further evidence of the Spectra’s desire to offer a wide choice of shapes and sizes when custom tooling isn’t an option.

As well as new pack additions, Spectra also added a new high lustre offering to their range of innovative finishes.

The new Silk high lustre finish, which offers a beautiful, gentle sheen and benefits from virtually no visible flow lines when compared with conventional pearlescent colours, drew broad interest when launched at Packaging Innovations London in September.

Joe went on to comment, “Although it is important we continue to add new pack designs for customers to choose from, it is equally important we continue to push the boundaries in innovation. The new Silk finish is yet another example of our desire to offer something new and different”.

The year ahead

Although the previous twelve months proved hugely successful for Spectra, the company is under no illusion that the plastics industry faces many challenges in the coming year and beyond, including the plastics debate and Brexit.

Widespread media and consumer attention on the environmental impacts of plastics has shown that the industry, the government and indeed consumers, need to do more.

Spectra truly understand it has an obligation as a manufacturer to actively pioneer sustainable alternatives to support and encourage customers to embrace environmental packaging solutions. Furthermore, the company recognises that it also needs to lead by example in how it operates as a business when considering its manufacturing impact.

Joe said, “Although we are proud of our environmental endeavours and the responsible measures we take, there is always more that can be done. Our PCR10 initiative is a hugely exciting step for us, and early indications suggest our customers agree. However, we will not simply stop there and will look to maintain a proactive approach to the challenges ahead, rather than a reactive one. We aim to continue throughout the coming year to review our practices and investigate new innovative sustainable materials for our customers, we believe we have a duty to do so”.

On Brexit, Joe went on to add, “There are still many unknown challenges facing UK businesses concerning the potential consequences of Brexit. However, we will continue to foster a positive approach and will look to develop lasting relationships across European territories just as we have always done”.