Sergey Rudkovsky on innovation

The modern world is in human captivity. The issue of using eco-friendly natural products and avoiding plastic packaging is becoming increasingly relevant. Actually, in Ukraine there is a manufacturer of a unique eco-friendly packaging material – pulp cardboard. We asked Sergey Rudkovsky, CEO of Sem Ecopack, what are the features of this product and in general what requirements today dictates, and how powerful progress is in the world of eco-friendly materials, in particular packaging paper. Egoist also found out when to expect the opening of the New Sem Ecopack production line, which will appear in the Lviv region.

 Sergey, tell us, how did you start making this unique material – pulp cardboard? Because we know that in general, we have been working in the pulp and paper industry for more than 10 years.

So, my team and I used to work at a cardboard factory that produces traditional types of packaging material for us – cardboard boxes, egg trays, etc.we thought about using pulp cardboard as a material to replace plastic packaging 5 years ago. Back in the 1970s, plastic flooded the world en masse, displacing paper from the field of packaging. Therefore, we began to experiment on forms, alternative types of raw materials, and it was in the course of experiments that a unique material appeared in its characteristics – pulp cardboard, which allows us to produce environmentally friendly packaging of any shape, and this means that we can pack much more products for which there was no alternative before, except plastic. I may say it too loudly, but it was from this moment that a new material paradigm began, but we still believe in it and will make every effort to replace harmful plastic packaging. Our product fully fits the concept of a circular economy, when we take an already used resource and re-launch it several times to form a new product. I believe that we are moving in the right direction, as the world, especially Europe, is actively pursuing a policy of ousting plastic from markets, and there are various programs to promote the use of eco-materials at the legislative level.

 Where is your production concentrated today?

The main plant is located in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Marketing and research teams are also located in Kiev and Zhytomyr. We are also working on launching a plant in the Lviv region. When we actually thought about the new forms in which to pack, we initially did not find any reviews. It is interesting that starting in 2014, two processes were taking place at that time. On the one hand, there was a domestic manufacturer who was not used to packing fruit separately. On the other hand, the giant Russian market was closed, so the Ukrainian manufacturer was forced to look for opportunities to get to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Actually, here it was faced with new standards already set by Western Europe, so the market had to develop. Already in 2018, we successfully entered the process and helped our Apple exporters switch over. At that time, Ukraine had a record year for Apple exports, and our contribution was that we provided eco-friendly containers for the consumer.

 Share when do you plan to launch production in Lviv region and why did you choose this particular region?

This is due to the needs of the consumer to be closer to the Western market, in particular in investment management. Since the production of a new format of wrapping paper has the most reviews in Europe – this is France, Germany, England. Accordingly, this gives us the opportunity to continue research, develop lines and expand production. We plan to open it in Lviv region in 2021. Now we are still choosing the location where the site will be concentrated, then we are creating jobs, and we are launching. I would like to note that this production is of a very high level, with international accreditation for safety in the food industry. It is also interesting that it has already become a tradition for us to open new production facilities in difficult times. In the Dnipropetrovsk region, the plant was launched in 2014, many simply did not believe that there could be any production, and today 6 years have passed since we successfully work and fill the markets with eco-friendly materials. And now the planned opening of the line in the Lviv region also falls during the coronavirus pandemic. But we understand that we must move, because we set the goal of a global mission to save the planet and we really believe that our contribution is important, so we have no moral right to give up no matter what!

 I wonder how new ideas are born in the team, how you implement them, open the curtain of the inner kitchen?

Our team simply changed the logical chain – instead of "we can't", we started using "we can if". Yes, at some point we all worked in conservative production, when all the processes are formed, and creativity is not welcome, because it ends in losses. We decided that there should be a right to make a mistake, this is part of our process. Together, we changed this established paradigm and got the first result. People realized that in addition to earning money, you can do useful things and enjoy it, be proud of yourself and your projects. We often organize "creative evenings" when everyone generates different ideas, sometimes these are very cool thoughts, and then we gradually try to implement them. An important aspect is the culture in the team, the absence of fear of offering and changing. We have successfully implemented this concept.

Yulia OSYM

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