In this part of our series of interviews with ALPLA regional managers, we offer you a different perspective on a holiday paradise. Richard Lisch, Regional Manager of ALPLA Caribe, talks about the specific challenges in the Caribbean in the areas of the economy, the environment and the labour market.
What specific demands do customers in the Caribbean make of packaging solutions?
The things that are always in demand are lighter packaging and a longer product shelf life, in particular for dairy produce and fruit juices. In our case, this calls for special production machinery and processes, for example to manufacture ultra light water bottles.
What is the political and economic situation in the region?
The region is generally relatively stable, with two exceptions: Haiti and, in particular, Puerto Rico. No long-term solution for the economy has yet been found since the state was declared bankrupt three years ago. Extremes come together in the Caribbean – on the one hand, there is the Dominican Republic, which continues to prosper, while on the other hand, there is Haiti, which is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. After the devastating Hurricane Maria two years ago, 7 per cent of the Puerto Rican population emigrated to the USA. Just recently in January 2020, Puerto Rico was hit by a severe earthquake. Economic growth in the region is modest, with only a few exceptions. The majority of the island nations are dependent on tourism and face global competition in this area.
What problems is the plastics industry facing?
Plastic packaging is coming under increasing pressure from governments and the environmental lobby. This applies in particular to countries which have not yet established efficient collection systems and recycling plants and in which educating the population regarding the environment and recycling is still in its infancy. The topic is increasingly being exploited politically, frequently to the detriment of the consumers and the Industry.
How significant is recycling in the region?
It is one of the most important topics here, as is the case everywhere these days. We have initiated a concrete project in the Dominican Republic together with customers, competitors and the state in order to gain control of this obvious problem in the next few years.
What form does the project take?
The state has to get the population on board by means of education. The industry is currently setting up collection and sorting centres. Post-consumer plastics will then be processed and turned into reusable materials at recycling plants. The majority of these plants are currently still based abroad. Recycling is a must in our island region, which is suffering greatly in general because of the current environmental Pollution.
What role does ALPLA in the regional economy?
ALPLA has been active in this region for 43 years. I can justifiably say that we established ourselves as a sound company which it is worth working for. With the training and professional development programmes we offer our staff, we are seeing to it that we have well-trained and motivated skilled workers. In this way, we are rising to the imminent challenges together.
More information on ALPLA’s activities in Caribbean is available on the company Website: https://www.alpla.com/en/caribbean
- ALPLA Caribe was established in Guayama, Puerto Rico, in 1976. This was joined in 2008 by a plant in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
- Some 360 people work at the two base plants.
- From 2005 to 2012, there was also an on-site production facility in Barbados.
- Its largest customers include Industrias San Miguel (Kola Real), Bepensa (Coca-Cola), Clorox, CBC (Pepsi), Fortiflex and APA (Agua Planeta Azul).