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NGR: COVID-19 crisis affecting the packaging and recycling industries
Source:Adsale Plastics Network     Editor:VC    Date:02.Jul.2020

Wolfgang Steinwender has taken over as the CEO of NGR (Next Generation Recyclingmaschinen GmbH) since May 1, 2020. In an interview with CPRJ, the new CEO talked about the COVID-19 pandemic impacts, the recycling market trends and the company developments.


Mr. Steinwender joined the Austrian plastics recycling machines manufacturer in 2014, and served as Managing Director of the North American office. He said there are differences between North American, European and Asian markets, especially in post-consumer recycling segment.


“The collection rates in Europe are significantly higher. Besides, the US-American customers gather very much information before investing and deciding for a technology,” he explained.


Nevertheless, COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences regardless of geographical locations. Mr. Steinwender noticed that the pandemic has changed the consumer behavior. “There are many parallel emerging trends. Some are only temporary developments whereas some trends might have been accelerated by the pandemic,” he commented.


For instance, food packaging gets more important as consumers buy more packaged food and drinks, and online shopping leads to more packaging, pinpointed Mr. Steinwender.


He also remarked that post-consumer segment would grow very fast, but the post-consumer recyclers have been suffering due to the pandemic and the very low oil prices.


Mr. Wolfgang Steinwender, CEO of NGR.


China and India represent high enduring potential


Regarding sales performance, last year was a very good year with growth in nearly every country for NGR. The company offers solution in three main segments: post-consumer, post-industrial and PET recycling equipment, the contribution of each area is slightly different every year.


“We try to balance out one third per segment. For a machine builder, splitting the risk is a key responsibility,” said Mr. Steinwender.


NGR sells on all continents and increases the sales by optimizing the sales channels. Countries such as China and India, with a large population and millions of people entering the middle class every year, represent a very high potential to the company.


Mr. Steinwender emphasized that the company’s energy-efficient, easy-to-operate and reliable machinery meets the expectation of the customers in these countries very well, enormous growth is ongoing and still to be expected.


He believes “proofing the concept” is the competitive advantage of NGR. “We have trial locations in different continents, where our existing and future customers can send samples for running trials. That helps a lot to demonstrate and proof the expected results,” he explained. “Together with reliable machines and short response times for service requests, we aim to fulfil the customers’ needs as good as possible”. 


Technology trends of recycling machines


In order to be able to produce high quality recycled pellets to meet the increasing market demand, recycling machine manufacturers are challenged to innovate and upgrade their technologies. Mr. Steinwender pinpointed that higher efficiency and higher throughput are the current technology trends for recycling machines.


According to him, process stability with sufficient degassing and correct filtration technology need to play together to ensure high quality of recycled materials.


Although more depolymerization technologies have been deployed in commercial scale for recycling, to Mr. Steinwender, chemical and mechanical recycling technologies will exist side by side in a long run as the former technology is more expensive.


NGR’s new NXT:GRAN post-industrial recycling series is a prime example of higher throughput recycling machines.


Being a role model


The fast changing market presents the biggest challenges to Mr. Steinwender in his new role, as he needs to lead the company to adapt to future needs very quickly. “We are in the very lucky situation of working together with our customers in strong partnerships. And together with a highly motivated team, we can easily solve the challenges that we face,” he said.


Being a CEO of a renowned recycling machine manufacturer, Mr. Steinwender supports circular economy in his living and tries to be a role model for his kids by separating scraps and making sure they are re-introduced into the recycling stream.


“We only have this planet to live on, and we want the following generations to enjoy the beauty and resources of this planet too,” he remarked. 



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