Rienk Jan van der Kooi, CEO, ESKA, tells Beauty Packaging about the company’s heritage in the premium board industry—and how high-performance, luxury packaging solutions—combined with sustainability—have been key tenets for more than 140 years.
ESKA is now a full-service package development company, and innovation remains at the forefront. For instance, read on to learn about ESKA JEANS, a new 100% biodegradable solid board, made from a mixture of recycled paper fibers and recycled denim fibers.
Jamie Matusow: ESKA has a very rich history as a leading supplier in the Rigid Board and Cartons industry. Can you tell us about the timeline and how the company has grown?
Rienk Jan van der Kooi: ESKA is a Dutch brand of premium board dedicated to high-performance and sustainable luxury packaging solutions. Founded in 1879, the company initially produced train tickets, then successfully expanded into the book segment, followed by puzzles and games. Luxury packaging is our latest diversification area and we are now a trusted, renowned partner for many great brands in the world. We have two plants in The Netherlands and international subsidiaries in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
JM: How does sustainability play into ESKA’s history and product line?
Rienk Jan van der Kooi: Rigid board is a noble, pure and ecological material, and sustainability is in our DNA. We began producing board using straw and after a successful trial period, we started using recycled paper as raw material in 1970. Our ESKA classic range is made from 100% recycled fibers and for certain types of solid board, we use FSC PEFC certified virgin fibers. We can develop recycled, recyclable and biodegradable packaging which corresponds perfectly to the quality criteria of luxury, and any brands looking to create sustainable packaging.
JM: ESKA is now a full-service package development company. What are your current capabilities and how does that benefit brand customers?
Rienk Jan van der Kooi: As architects of identity materials, we take a full-spectrum view of the creation and development process. We develop eco-friendly packaging solutions and we can offer the broadest possible choice of shape, printing and finishing options to make each project unique: offset, screen printing, hot stamping, embossing, lamination, cutting, and more. Our packaging solutions are made of premium board with an optimized structure that makes it strong, easy to transport and easy to handle.
JM: What stands out as ESKA’s specialty?
Rienk Jan van der Kooi: Our specialty is a recycled and mass colored board with a vibrant and intense color: ESKA COLOURS. It has a unique texture and allows perfect cut-outs for packaging that combines modernity, ecology and refinement. Composed of three layers, it has an optimal rigidity that allows a perfect hold and an optimal protection of the product. ‘Lay flat—stay flat’ is our mantra.
Jamie Matusow: In addition to materials used, what about sustainable practices? Corporate social responsibility guidelines?
Rienk Jan van der Kooi: Sustainability has always been our priority and we have been working on a strategy to decarbonize the company since 1989. As a result, we have reduced our carbon footprint by 30%. We have the most efficient solid board machine in the world, and we have invested in a fully-closed-process water recycling loop and in a waste-to-energy plant integrated in the production process.
The human dimension is also very important to us, as we are convinced that people make the difference. We prioritize the health and safety of our teams and encourage their development.
JM: What trends/observations have you noted in cartons for the Beauty/Personal Care industry?
Rienk Jan van der Kooi: Our customers are increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability and are paying particular attention to waste and recyclability. They ask for our support toward a more eco-responsible approach in developing their packaging.
JM: What innovations is ESKA working on now?
Rienk Jan van der Kooi: In order to respond to the new environmental and challenging issues of the luxury and sustainable packaging sector, we have moved toward a circular economy approach with ESKA JEANS, a new eco-responsible solid board, 100% biodegradable, made from a mixture of recycled paper fibers and recycled denim fibers. Jeans fibers are made from post-consumer clothing from brands and textile waste from manufacturers. ESKA JEANS is mass-colored and allows brands to produce a new concept box with sharp edges and without using cover material.