Diversify and innovate production focussing on eco-sustainable polymers. This is a must for moving forward
by Susanna Matera
Wood-plastic composite, or WPC, are seeing rapid expansion. Developed to make articles for construction, nautical and outdoor design sectors, they are gaining popularity in industrial contexts (cable reels, pallets), furnishing and even automotive (profiles, door panels, van floors). Its “green” core is driving use in ever new sectors.
The best of both worlds
Made partly using resources from renewable sources and at times containing raw materials recovered from processing waste, wood-plastic composite draws on concern for sustainability, supported by an excellent surface appearance and a lasting quality performance profile. Its dual nature combines aesthetics and the comforting mood of wood – warm and “natural” colours, pleasant feel – with lightness, sturdiness and resistance to atmospheric agents and – not least – large-scale production, which is an appealing feature of plastics. A marriage of beauty and practicity particularly suited to the world of furnishings and tableware. In this sector, like in interior design, the spirit of the time imposes sobriety, versatile and nomadic solutions that do not bind articles to a single use. Moreover, materials and finishes must be neutral, warm, with a “natural” look. This crucible of trends has led to the creation of the SimplyBox range, developed and patented by Alfaplast, an Italian company based in Piacenza (Italy).
Quality is a virtuous cycle
Alfaplast’s production has been developed over the course of thirty years, guided by professional standards, passion, and the ability to perceive the customer’s needs, but also the evolution of technology and market trends. Founded in 1989 by Daniele Affaticati, drawing on his experience consolidated in the field of plastics injection moulding, thanks to the quality of his workmanship, over time he secured collaborations in multiple sectors: to name but a few, the automotive and mechanical industries, food and medical packaging, technical parts, and foodservice. The concept of quality is interpreted by Alfaplast in the broadest, most authentic sense, and is delivered using plants and methods attentive to energy efficiency and respect for the environment. What’s more, the need to protect products from contaminants deriving from processing necessitates constant quality monitoring of the air and water used to cool the production line, which helps to prevent waste and harmful emissions. And there’s more. «Our company philosophy is based on reducing processing waste, recycling everything that can be recycled, and minimizing our water and energy use» explain Daniele Affaticati and Mariagrazia Romanini, wife and valuable co-worker of the owner. «In this context, we decided to begin moulding a WPC material, which represents an alternative to traditional plastics and enables us to contribute to promoting sustainability with eco-friendly products. The plasticWOOD materials that we use are derived, in high percentage, from birch flour from wood working waste, mixed with polypropylene. This gave the idea to develop SimplyBox, a range of multipurpose containers».
“Green” performance and beauty
You will certainly have met them, for example at a restaurant or café. The design idea behind this range is simple but very effective, because it is inspired by a type of object that is extremely familiar, the usefulness and functionality of which have been tested by generations: crates for transporting and selling fruit and vegetables, as well as pallets, a variant with broader base and lower height. Container modules that “radical” designers from yesterday and today have used as models, sometimes straying very little from the standard, to build bookshelves, sofa bases, small tables, and so on. Alfaplastic has stuck to forms and proportions, reducing sizes to transform them into articles for the table. SimplyBox is a container, event favour or basket, depending on the form; the most compact and sleek model started out as a bread stick holder and can be used as a container for Bordeaux bottles, cutlery holder or pen holder. Faithful to the wood model is also the choice of the plasticWOOD composite, that gives objects a country look combined with the practical use typical of plastic. «SimplyBox articles are patented» Daniele and Mariagrazia point out. «They can be fully recycled within the production chain, generating relatively low levels of carbon dioxide emissions during processing». They come in three types, five sizes and a wide range of colours, and can also be customized with graphics according to customer’s needs. Ideal for food containers and machine washable, resistant to humidity, and providing excellent mechanical performance.