SPHERE Spain celebrates its 60th anniversary by demonstrating its confidence in the future and its firm commitment to sustainability. After investing 32 million euros, the Aragonese company inaugurated today in Pedrola its new circular economy complex for the manufacture of biodegradable and compostable bags with a high content of post-consumer recycled materials, which will be the largest and most advanced in Europe in its activity and with which it expects to increase its turnover to over 100 million euros in 2023. The arrival of SPHERE España in the town of Zaragoza will mean the creation of 35 jobs, bringing the total number of employees to more than 300, and will contribute to diversifying the economic activity of the surrounding area and the Ribera Alta del Ebro region, with a strong presence of the automotive industry.
The new plant has 32,000 square meters dedicated to production, compared to the 12,000 square meters available at the Utebo site. Located on a plot of 140,000 meters that will allow for future expansions, the factory is based entirely on the principles of the circular economy and will incorporate energy efficiency criteria, with milestones such as the automation of the production process, halls over 25 meters high for the three-layer coextrusion machines, complete real-time monitoring, advanced just-in-time dynamic management and an intelligent 4.0 warehouse of 8,300 square meters with a capacity for 12,500 pallets and operated by ten autonomous vehicles (AGV). The plant will be ‘zero waste’ and will recycle post-industrial polyethylene and post-industrial bioplastics, reincorporating manufacturing leftovers into the production process.
The project also stands out for the heavy investment in state-of-the-art industrial infrastructure, as the company has acquired eight new extrusion machines, nine for the manufacture of garbage bags and four for the production of bio material in rolls. This will increase annual production from the current 32,000 tons to 38,000 tons and is currently operating at 95% of capacity.
Investments and projects
The company is demonstrating its firm commitment to a sustainable future with various actions it will carry out in the near future. It plans to install a photovoltaic plant, adjacent to the production building, in 2023, which will enable it to save up to 25% and which represents an investment of more than 2.5 million euros.
The complex will house another building for the manufacture of aluminum rolls, food stretch film and kitchen towels, products that will be distributed in the Spanish and Portuguese markets. This project, which will begin in the first months of next year, will involve an investment of close to 2 million euros and is part of SPHERE Spain’s global investment plans for the next five years.
For more than 45 years, the SPHERE Group has been developing improvements in its products with a commitment to sustainability. Food film, aluminum and kitchen foil are essential elements in everyday life and have been extensively researched and manufactured at various sites of the group, such as COMSET in Italy or SPHERE France. SPHERE Spain wants to join all these product innovations with both eco-design and technical advances that integrate the principles of circular economy throughout the process, including in the product range aluminum trays and freezer bags also manufactured by the group.
The President of Aragon, Javier Lambán, who visited the works of the complex in May 2021, has already noted the drive of this multinational, which in Aragon was born as a family business in 1962 and is now in its third generation, and which has managed to boost itself thanks to its commitment to innovation. It is, in his opinion, an example of the circular economy and a European benchmark. “It is an event with far-reaching consequences for our economy, almost a historic milestone, both for its size and its technology and for being the most advanced and powerful in Europe”. He also alluded to the “epic” and “almost lyrical” nature behind the cold numbers and highlighted the talent, perseverance and example for the following generations of this company, which started from the most domestic sphere to become a paradigm of Aragonese business entrepreneurship.
The implementation of the complex in Pedrola, which obtained in May 2019 the declaration of Investment of Regional Interest, means, according to Lambán, the diversification of the industrial sector of the area, currently very dependent on the automotive sector, enabling it to face new economic challenges and acting as a call effect for the implementation of other leading industries in the sector in the region. In addition, the growth of a company with the innovative character and the technological and human development of Sphere will allow Aragon to be a pioneer in the implementation of new business models based on the circular economy.
The Government of Aragon launched in January 2020 the economic strategy “Aragon Circular” that will have a new impulse. To encourage economic activity and job creation in this sector, the Department of Economy has already launched several calls for aid for R&D aimed at circular economy projects and a new fund to support companies in the circular economy sector through the public company SODIAR, which will allow entrepreneurs and SMEs to develop business projects linked to the sector. This line has an initial endowment of 300,000 euros provided by the Department of Economy, Planning and Employment.
This company is one of the 101 companies that have adhered to the Aragón Circular declaration to promote the circular economy in our Autonomous Community. It includes 16 specific commitments related to improving efficiency in the use of resources, innovation in design and in the production system, responsible consumption, specialized training, mitigation of emissions and measurement of the implementation of the circular economy and its social and territorial impact.