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Sustainability – as a mindset

Family-run, in the third generation, Optima has always focused on creating long-term solutions. A profound sense of responsibility for future generations is the drive for future endeavors. Or, as Hans Bühler says: “Our objective as a company is to safeguard the present and shape the future for our descendants, for a sustainable, safe and viable world by using resources responsibly and treat our environment well. Together with our customers, we work every day to find solutions for safe and environmental friendly products.”

As one of the world's leading companies for filling and packaging machines, how can we achieve sustainability – day after day, for all divisions?

Optima has established a sustainability team to consolidate and advance all existing and future initiatives and ideas, and to ensure that customers and partners respect this topic as well. Optima's sustainability motto is: “We care for tomorrow”. We want to excel across the board and focus on environmental issues, social topics, and corporate governance. However, true sustainable programs are not based on the conviction that we already have all the answers, but rather on questions such as:

What does sustainability mean for Optima?

The answer is to recognize today's environmental and climate challenges. The question is no longer whether you should be sustainable, but rather how your sustainability efforts can be as effective and comprehensive as possible. In addition, the proceedings must agree with other important corporate objectives, such as growth and profitability. It is demanding and clearly a challenge to live up to our responsibility, but can also lead to opportunities during the adjustment process. This includes constant development of equipment and packaging, reducing risks, and developing new business models considering sustainability.

What can Optima do by itself?

Optima’s motto “We care for tomorrow” stands for sustainable production, filling, and packaging throughout the entire value chain. This strategy is based on three pillars. Circular packaging: developing sustainable packaging solutions for a functional circular economy – to reuse packaging materials repeatedly without loss of quality (cradle-to-cradle principle). Sustainable technology: developing resource-friendly machine solutions considering the entire life cycle of the equipment.
Corporate sustainability: Optima is committed to ecological, fair, and successful long-term business practices. Our commitment is transparent and measurable according to our certification.

How can packaging become more sustainable?

First, it is important to acknowledge that packaging is needed for a number of reasons. Food, for example, would spoil quickly without proper packaging. The correct packaging has to be suitable for storage and transportation. Therefore, packaging is an important contribution to feed the world's growing population and helps prevent excess food. At times, packaging can be an integral part of the product and absolutely essential. Vaccines or other important medicines come to mind. Therefore, packaging cannot and should not always be avoided.

Yet, benefits and expenses must be taken under consideration to be beneficial. All parties involved must evaluate the benefits versus the expenditures to ensure the cost-benefit-ratio to make sense. 

The key is to develop long-term, sustainable solutions rather than realizing short-term solutions that shift the problem along the value chain.

Here are a few constructive solutions:

Sustainable capsules

Sustainability and flavor are not contradictions. In collaboration with partners, Optima has developed a system that includes a fully recyclable mono-material capsule with a recyclable lid material and a particularly resource-saving capsule filling system. The result is the GreenLution Capsule, which has been certified by two institutes as recyclable.

Honest paper packaging

Paper hygiene products – in plastic packages? Sure, you can do that, but you don't have to anymore. In collaboration with Fripa, a high-quality hygiene paper manufacturer, Optima developed a sustainable inspiring solution. The basis is the Optima OSR pouch packaging machine used in conjunction with a newly developed closing mechanism – resulting in a fully recyclable paper packaging – in this case for toilet paper.

SleeveBag

If plastic continues to be used to protect the product, for example diapers, blank mono-plastics are the preferred choice due to their recyclability. Using a new process solution from Optima, a paper sleeve is inserted into the transparent pouches along with the product for labeling, barcodes and other consumer information. Consumers dispose of bags and paper sleeves separately as usual, creating an ecologically beneficial cycle.
The cylos-HTP Institute certified the packaging as “excellent and 100 percent recyclable”.

Reduced water consumption

Valuable, highly sterile water (WFI) is used for cleaning vials used for medical purposes. How can we use less WFI without compromising safety and sterility? Optima is focusing on particularly efficient water nozzles. The WFI used for the final cleaning is collected, filtered, reheated and then reused in the pre-cleaning process. Additionally, a completely new approach improves the hydromechanical cleaning effect by introducing additional compressed air that moves the water in a spiral motion. The result: 45 percent less water consumption.

Inline manufacturing, instead transportation

With the InlineCan, co-developed by Optima and the special machine manufacturer Hörauf, packaging is manufactured on site in the production line before filling. This prevents “empty runs” when filling coffee, tea, snacks, and candy, and transporting empty cans from A to B, which ultimately saves storage space.

These were only four examples that illustrate how Optima is achieving significant improvements in terms of sustainability, on its own or in cooperation with other companies along the value chain. In essence, the motto of the Optima Group worldwide is: Only as much packaging as necessary and as little as possible – and made with the right materials to ensure a sustainable circular economy.

What is the contribution of Optima systems and machine solutions towards sustainability?

The efficient use of materials and cutting-edge technology reduce the CO2 footprint in machine manufacturing and production.

// Highest availability:

Smart digital services reduce downtime, thereby making the entire production process more sustainable. One customer reduced downtimes by 85 percent!

// Compact machine sizes:

Production space reduced – output increased. The Optima system EGS, reduced the space requirements by more than 40 percent.

// Efficient media use

The use of protective gases was reduced by up to 50 percent and water consumption for cleaning freeze dryers by up to 70 percent.

// Sustainable machine recycling:

Upon request, we ensure resource-efficiency by returning individual parts to the respective material streams.

// Process accuracy:

Production savings accomplished with maximum precision filling – without under- or overfilling.

// Packaging utilization:

By optimizing the positioning of the cutting modules, material utilization increases by up to 30 percent during the packaging process.

// Maximizing life cycles:

Optima’s “Total Care” life cycle management program maximizes the service life of machines – whether through predictive maintenance or targeted rebuilds and overhaul programs. This allows customers to update and adapt their system rather than replacing it.

// Energy requirements:

Optima systems and machine solutions are always designed and implemented for high-energy efficiency. For example, using cutting-edge sealing technology can reduce energy consumption by over 30 percent.

What can Optima do within the company?

This starts with electricity in our buildings in Schwäbisch Hall, which is generated from renewable energy sources. We rely on existing geothermal energy or sustainably generated district heating for our heating systems. We also place great importance on waste prevention, waste separation and therefore have advanced waste separation concepts. Our computer simulations save our customers time, as well as plenty of test material. We are currently in the process of converting our vehicle fleet to hybrid models and electric mobility.

Is it transparent?

Openness and transparency are among the corporate principles at Optima. Sustainability is very important to us and we don’t just want to be all talk – we want to be actively involved. The four certifications we received confirm that sustainability is not just a theoretical issue for us.

Does this indicate that everything is achieved?

Optima could proudly brag about its successes regarding its environmental achievements in terms of sustainability. However, the company is also aware that this is just the beginning. Now things are really taking off. Right on time for its 100th anniversary, Optima is adopting an environmental and climate strategy, expanding the long-standing, successful CO2 reduction measures it already has in place and from 2022, it will be net carbon neutral. Optima customers, too, will soon be able to purchase net carbon-neutral machines. Optima is taking a holistic approach on environmental issues and climate change. Therefore, we introduced the environmental management system in compliance with DIN ISO 14001 in spring 2022. Currently, climate change is the most widely considered issue but other environmental issues like water consumption and biodiversity also need to be addressed.

More on all topics related to sustainability

Family-run, in the third generation, Optima has always focused on creating long-term solutions. A profound sense of responsibility for future generations is the drive for future endeavors. Or, as Hans Bühler says: “Our objective as a company is to safeguard the present and shape the future for our descendants, for a sustainable, safe and viable world by using resources responsibly and treat our environment well. Together with our customers, we work every day to find solutions for safe and environmental friendly products.”

Is it transparent?

Openness and transparency are among the corporate principles at Optima. Sustainability is very important to us and we don’t just want to be all talk – we want to be actively involved. The four certifications we received confirm that sustainability is not just a theoretical issue for us.

OPAL Process Management

This software, specially developed in-house by Optima, links the ERP level (enterprise resource planning – higher-level business management processes) with the manufacturing level and records production data, including overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). 

Multiple machines and system components can be connected across one or several lines in a horizontal network, which enables users to organize complex production processes more efficiently and more reliably. Like many other digital technologies, OPAL is part of IPAS.

Is it transparent?

Openness and transparency are among the corporate principles at Optima. Sustainability is very important to us and we don’t just want to be all talk – we want to be actively involved. The four certifications we received confirm that sustainability is not just a theoretical issue for us.

Is it transparent?

Openness and transparency are among the corporate principles at Optima. Sustainability is very important to us and we don’t just want to be all talk – we want to be actively involved. The four certifications we received confirm that sustainability is not just a theoretical issue for us.

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