Gr8 Engineering

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Gr8 Engineering's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Gr8 Engineering is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Debra Clarke, managing director
Reuse coffee cups
GR8 Engineering is an innovative rigid plastic packaging
company specialising in injection moulding, injection
compression moulding, stretch blow moulding and the use
of foaming technology. With over 85 years of combined experience,
it offers a wide range of services to industry. More generally, its
services extend to: product and mould design, troubleshooting,
productivity optimisation, patent advice and IP creation, rapid
prototyping, expert witness services, project management and
foamed product design. So successful is the company in its
sector that it has created the lightest, cheapest, reusable plastic
coffee cup; indeed, Theresa May owns one and raised mention
of it during a PMQs session. At the helm of this innovative push
are the co-authors of this article, Peter Clarke (engineer) and the
managing director, DebraClarke.
The nature of our services
Our business excels for one main reason: we design and develop types of rigid
plastic packaging that no one else will, be it for technical and cultural reasons or
those of scale. In other words, we are bespoke innovators in the truest possible
sense. This means we do not focus on any given area, but rather on all possible
domains of application.
Being as agile as we are, however, requires a certain underlying ethos, which
is as follows. We are keen to avoid falling into monotony and standardisation,
seeking instead to always look outside the box for new solutions to new problems.
»Managing director:
»Established in 2010
»Based in Chichester, West
»Services: Plastic package
»No. of employees: 4
»14 original patents
»Created the cheapest, lightest
reusable plastic coffee cup (one
of which Theresa May owns –
featured on PMQs)
GR8 Engineering
In fact,one of the problems we
have identified in the sector is the
conservative nature of many of
those who run it. Too many in the
plastic packaging business are bound
by the inertia of the sector’s half-
century of unhindered success, and
are now facing tumult in this great
push towards more sustainable
modes of packaging. Whereas the
plastic packaging industry is, on the
whole, always flustered by these
developments, we at GR8 Engineering
see the development coming and
adjust some two or three years in
advance accordingly. Entwined with
this, naturally, is our resilience: another
value of ours.
Success depends on more than just
our ability to adapt and anticipate,
though. My (Peter’s) strong presence
in the industry – not least through
chairing conferences – has brought us
an almost physical presence for our
company, which has itself brought
us custom. Moreover, Peter has been
in the industry since 1974 and has
along the way established many strong
relationships and formed industry
insights. This latter fact is important,
because part of GR8 Engineering’s DNA
is the commitment to self-reflection.
Ipredict that many companies, precisely
because they do not self-reflect, will
go under. They’re simply not used to
constant growth not being a given.
A new path for the industry
It’s all well and good to say things are
changing, but the question remains:
in what direction is the industry
heading? Essentially, packaging is
becoming increasingly consumer-led;
people want products with value,
that is, products that look nice. By
being receptive and agile, we can
respond quickly to consumer demand
and know what to plan for. This is
something the larger companies will
struggle, and already are struggling, to
In terms of being environmentally
friendly, larger companies are also
struggling in this area. Introducing
governmental measures such as
additional tax will be the only way that
incentives for them to act sustainably
will arise. We, on the other hand,
believe that by making the packaging
nice, we place value on it – and when
something has value, people do not
throw it away. We’d also like to see
more incentives in place for the general
Thin base vs conventional
We are keen
to avoid falling
into monotony
Highlighting best practice
public regarding recycling. This could
take the form, for instance, of more
visible monetary benefits for doing so.
On top of this, too, could be an added
cost to plastics, which would result in
the consumer adding more subjective
value to the said plastic. This is a
message we’d like to see proliferate,
and forms part of the message we’re
trying to impart both in this article and
in our discussions with industry peers.
Difficulties along the way
For a long time we were trying to
win grants, and to this end we got
involved with PERA, whose grant
application ended up costing us
£30,000 for which we got nothing in
return, as they went into liquidation.
Ultimately, grants are difficult and
cumbersome, especially for smaller
companies who have less time and
resources at their disposal. In point of
fact, opting for these sort of schemes
can be something of a rip-off.
Another problem for us is finding
good employees, which is to say,
there is a large skills gap in this
aspect of UK manufacturing. Many
of the best have retired and few
have come in their stead, largely
because knowledge has become
far less practical at educational
institutions – probably in anticipation
of a dominant service economy,
rather than preparing people for a
still extant and thriving manufacturing
sector. As a whole, we’d like to see
manufacturing taken less for granted
by those teaching the next generation
of adults.
In spite of these challenges, I am
confident that we will continue to
perform well in our role as bespoke
innovators and learn to adapt with
the times – adaptability, of course,
being one of our core traits. All that’s
necessary at our end is to make sure
our packaging meets the requirements
of all stakeholders, be it those of other
manufacturers and end-users or those
of governments – we want to be at
the fore of the shifting winds of the
rigid plastic packaging industry.
grants are
difficult and
especially for
Radical shaped tub

This article was sponsored by Gr8 Engineering. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy