The UK-based degradable carrier-bag manufacturer, Symphony Plastic Technologies, has won a significant contract to supply Somerfield and Kwik Save stores.
The supermarkets are switching from their non-degradable suppliers in a deal worth at least £4.3 million (€6.8 million). The first deliveries will start this year and the contract runs for 12 to 15 months.
Somerfield and Kwik Save operate more than 1,300 stores in the UK. The announcement follows Symphony's first UK supermarket deal with Co-operative Retail last month. The new contracts will more than double the rate of Symphony's sales this year, with the company set to produce more than 1 billion-a-year degradable retail carrier bags in the UK.
Symphony already supplies supermarkets in Ireland and the Caribbean. It says its totally degradable products are a solution to plastic pollution. The manufacturing technology uses a special additive which helps to break down the plastic material, leaving only water, carbon dioxide and environmentally safe biomass.
According to a UK government report, the volume of plastic packaging in the UK is 1.7 million tonnes per year, of which less than 15 per cent will be recycled. The remaining 1.4 million tonnes of waste are destined for landfill sites. An EC directive on packaging waste which is being adopted throughout Europe sets a target of at least 50 per cent to be recycled.
Symphony is in talks with another eight large UK retailers and expects to supply more than 100 local councils with degradable green waste bags by the end of the year. Estimates put the UK degradable plastic bag market at more than £300 million (€480 million).
The company moved from Ofex to Aim last November, raising €1.95 million (€3.12 million) at 30 pence. The figure was lower than hoped, due to difficult stock market conditions.
According to Symphony's stockbroker, Canaccord Capital, it is ahead of its competition by at least two years. The broker says the company should break even in the second half of the current year and make a pre-tax profit of £1.4 million (€2.2 million) in 2004 on sales of £22 million (€35.2 million).
In the year to end-December 2001, Symphony made a slightly reduced operating loss of £1.46 million (€2.33 million) on turnover, ahead 20 per cent at £3.85 million (€6.1 million).