Making plastics a valuable material
One year KraussMaffei start-up polymore
In this interview, Dr. Michael Ruf (CEO of KraussMaffei), Nadine Despineux (Executive Vice President DSS) and Josef Art (Business Director polymore) talk about the polymore start-up.
A year ago, KraussMaffei launched polymore, a start-up company, an online marketplace for a sustainable plastics industry. How does the system behind the platform work?
Josef Art: polymore is designed for the trade with compounds and recyclates, with the focus on thermoplastics. The platform brings buyers and sellers together: Companies only have to make an inquiry about the required product by means of a form. polymore experts check the request and forward it to suitable suppliers, who then send offers directly to the inquiring companies. Both the purchase and the sale are free of charge. Each user is also fully verified. Thus polymore ensures the seriousness of both buyer and seller.
Nadine Despineux: My clear answer is: YES! Due to the planned introduction of a legally binding recyclate quota for the plastics industry, direct access to the trade of recycled plastics plays a decisive role, not least for the development of holistic solutions comprising machine and material.
The plastics industry is under enormous cost pressure and is struggling with a public image problem. Are these the right circumstances to set up a start-up for trading in plastics?
Dr. Michael Ruf: This is one of the strengths of polymore. With our clear positioning in the field of circular economy we show that we are doing something to get circular economy going. The circular economy will be set in motion especially if we have systematic solutions instead of single solutions. polymore is our link between machine, digitalization, material and process partners along the plastic cycle. I am sure that the contribution of polymore in the plastic recycling economy will make the world "a little bit better".
Art: More than 80% of our customer inquiries relate to Circular Economy products. We are in exactly the right place here. With polymore we combine digitalization, platform economy, networking of the value chain. In addition to the operative business we are also involved in solutions and value added offers together with institutes like IKK Hannover, DIN society and many more.
The trading opened in October 2019. How would you sum up the first year?
Ruf: We have made a breakthrough. KraussMaffei is perceived as a pioneer in the industry, not least by polymore. We are breaking new ground and opening up new opportunities. Within a year, the team has achieved an enormous level of recognition in the market. We can see from the results that we are beginning to get traction. As CEO I am naturally always impatient by nature. But especially with digital business models it is important to have the staying power, to put the business model to the test again and again and to develop it flexibly with our customers.
Despineux: We launched polymore on the market in October 2019 and, together with key customers and business partners, we opened our doors for the first time. In the meantime, polymore has become a key element for KraussMaffei in positioning ourselves in the recycling industry throughout Europe. polymore is actively involved, for example, in the standardization of recyclates in the DIN authority. With polymore, we have a unique opportunity to differentiate ourselves in the market in the combination of machine and material - assuming that 50% to 70% of our customers' component costs are influenced by the material.
Art: In my view, we have achieved an enormous market activation. In the first few months alone, we processed inquiries for more than 50,000 tons of material and brought hundreds of partners together. In the meantime, we have managed inquiries for well over 80,000 tons of material. I am very satisfied with the fact that we currently have material requests for annual volumes of 4,000 tons operatively in test phases at customers on the plant - mainly in Germany and Italy. polymore is a well positioned brand, we get excellent feedback from our material partners.
What does the start-up mean for the KraussMaffei Group?
Ruf: I was still very new to the company when I got to know the beginnings of polymore. Right from the start I was thrilled by the innovative strength and creativity behind this start-up. KraussMaffei is perceived as a pioneer in the industry, not least through polymore. We are breaking new ground and opening up new opportunities.
Despineux: polymore is the first own start-up from KraussMaffei a 180-year old successful engineering company! polymore is also a very important component of our KraussMaffei sustainability strategy with a clear focus on making plastics a valuable material in the future. With polymore, KraussMaffei is taking a significant step outside the traditional engineering business, opening up new business opportunities.
Art: We are in close contact with our colleagues in the machine business, because the opportunities presented by Ms. Despineux in terms of material on the plastic product make it very exciting to work out cost advantages for customers in the combination of machine, process and material. Here we are working on many exciting projects.
What are your visions for polymore and how will KraussMaffei customers benefit?
Ruf: polymore works for us and especially for our customers in several directions. On the one hand as an internal and external initiator in the field of recycling management, on the other hand in the combination of material and machine. Furthermore polymore is a catalyst for the networking of partners along the value chain. And thus we create solutions for an easier recycling and utilization of plastic waste.
Despineux: The potential behind polymore is enormous. I firmly believe that we will continue to develop the platform together with our customers and business partners in order to ensure the best possible benefit for our customers. polymore is an important component of how plastic becomes a recyclable material and thus we create an enormous contribution to the recycling economy. I am convinced that society and environment will profit from polymore in the long run: To the firmly rooted, traditional plastic specialist area completely new, for the industry rather unconventional, digital approaches are added. Tradition and innovation complement each other perfectly.
What do you want to give the polymore team to take on the way?
Despineux: I wish the team to keep the pioneering spirit of our company founders as it is today, to continue to explore new avenues with curiosity and research, and to always keep an eye on customer benefit. With these ingredients, the team will continue to be successful.
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