Finnish sustainable packaging company Huhtamaki has inaugurated a 12,500m² expansion of its paper-based packaging manufacturing site in Nules, Spain.

The expansion involved a €20m ($20.8m) investment, which included a grant of €2.2m ($2.3m) from the Conselleria de Hacienda y Modelo Economico.

Huhtamaki said the expansion will begin production this January and double the site’s capacity.

In line with the company’s 2030 Sustainability Ambitions, the extended facility was built to comply with Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method sustainability standards.

It also features an advanced heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to meet high thermal comfort standards for employees.

Huhtamaki Europe-Asia-Oceania fibre foodservice president Eric Le Lay said: “This investment, which will create around 130 new jobs when fully operational, has been aided by the Community of Valencia, which has supported the expansion of Nules with €2.2m of development funding.

“It builds on our existing technological expertise and will further enhance our manufacturing capacity for innovative and sustainable paper-based packaging in Europe, providing our customers with the ability to substitute rigid plastics, which are being driven by consumer demand.

“We continue to urge EU policymakers to support legislation that enables and incentivises innovation and sustainable packaging solutions.”

The expansion of Huhtamaki’s Nules factory highlights the increasing demand for renewable and recyclable paper-based packaging as an alternative to rigid plastics.

The factory develops sustainable packaging solutions for the company’s European customers.

Earlier this year, Huhtamaki announced that its manufacturing site in Alf, Germany, would start producing smooth moulded-fibre products instead of plastics.

The facility will be able to manufacture up to 3.5 billion fibre products a year when fully operational.

Through this, the company aims to address growing demand for plastic-free materials for food packaging.

Based in Espoo, Huhtamaki provides packaging for companies in 37 countries and has 114 operating locations worldwide.