HotSeat – Peter Atterby, Managing Director at Luxus

Luxus is firmly established as the UK’s largest independently owned producer of prime and recycled polymers. Managing Director Peter Atterby has over 40 years’ experience in the plastics industry, having joined Luxus as a graduate apprentice in 1970. Peter and his management team have successfully overseen the strategic direction of the company, enabling it to become a key supplier in many markets. He is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…

What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will Luxus respond?

The continued uncertainty over Brexit and increasing globalisation will affect the plastics industry in the future. The UK is well known however, for its innovation, engineering design expertise and advanced materials development which will help to secure the nation’s long-term economic growth.

At Luxus we are responding to these challenges by continually searching for new and emerging markets at the very forefront of thermoplastics technology innovation. The world of additives and fillers for example, is fast moving right now, with increasingly ‘exotic’ fillers for plastics presenting new market opportunities.

We have adopted ‘next-generation’ reinforcing additives for our prime and recycled content Hycolene™ grades, to meet increasing performance requirements in the auto interior trim market. These additives deliver excellent tensile properties that don’t detract from the appearance of the moulded compound, yet their adoption reduces weight by up to 12 per cent per part and significantly improves scratch-resistance for a superior finish.

While partnerships made just this year are also enabling us to explore the benefits that revolutionary fillers such as graphene has to offer, so we are continually pushing technical boundaries. The addition of graphene (a single atomic layer of graphite) into polymers can deliver advanced lightweight, high temperature resistance, conductivity and strength benefits offering designers seemingly endless possibilities.

In the future graphene I’m sure will become common place, helping to redefine performance, durability and sustainability in the plastics industry.

What has Luxus developed during your tenure?

I have been with Luxus for 47 years now and in that time it has changed beyond all recognition. Luxus has grown from a small plastics trading and granulation business with a handful of staff to a UK leading technical recycling and compounding company producing 30,000 tonnes of polymer a year.

In the process we have become a true knowledge-based technical plastics compounder, supplying highly engineered recycled and prime polymers to numerous markets, particularly for the global auto industry, revolutionising sustainable component design in the process.

What do you credit as the key to your success?

The best example of this is our in-house research facility established in 1985 to help us stay ahead in the auto market, it has contributed to our growth over the years. Then in 2012 we built a new state-of-the-art Technical Centre with the aim of accelerating our development of thermoplastic polymers with a recycled content. This on-going investment in R&D has enabled Luxus to offer bespoke solutions for both general industry and niche highly specified applications too.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

First it was the 1970’s oil crisis and later we were hit with recessions in 1982, the 1990s and 2008 which all challenged the business, but our greatest on-going need remains the same – its people.

Traditionally sixth formers were told that the only way forward was going to university, this is beginning to change with apprenticeships becoming ever more popular as awareness has improved. We need to overcome out of date perceptions about manufacturing and let it be known too, that university degrees are not the only route available so we can attract and retain more talent.

What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry and does that differ from the advice you would give to an Apprentice joining now?

It remains the same, it’s getting away from the ‘computer says no’ mind-set and encouraging apprentices to really think ‘outside of the box’ to solve problems.

It is always a pleasure to watch young people develop their careers.

What hidden talents do you have?

Singing in the car – much to the annoyance of friends and family.

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