Corrugated cardboard: the narrator of a story

From the beginnings in the 1950s to today’s digital printing: born as a box factory, ICO Industria Cartone Ondulato has grown to become an integrated producer, able to look beyond the confines of a “mature” market par excellence. Always aiming to produce a quality material, the company stands out for its offer of unconventional papermaking solutions.
Rita Lancia tells us more.


Today, ICO Industria Cartone Ondulato - with headquarters in Pianella in the province of Pescara - is a reference company in Italy in the production of cardboard packaging and boxes, but also of counter displays, POP displays and display materials in general... all naturally personalisable. All this is thanks to the technological and operational investments that have marked its history (see the accompanying text in this regard, Ed.).

As Rita Lancia, one of the four shareholders of the family company of which Leonida is Chairman (the eldest of the children), as well as the company’s marketing director explains:

«We started out as manufacturers of traditional packaging made with one or two-wall corrugated cardboard; we produce an infinite variety of shapes with different types of walls, depending on specific requests. We always aim for quality, as well as offering the market something which has not been done before with corrugated cardboard given that, with a suitable design carried out internally (the ICO Lab is our internal dedicated department), we can develop very attractive and effective mono-material products at a communicative level.»

Specifically - Lancia continues - being able to count on state-of-the-art technologies such as the Agnati Quantum2 corrugating machine installed in Pianella, we make N-flute sheets (thinner than the microwave, to the extent that it is sometimes mistaken for paper board, Ed.). It’s a perfectly flat material without imperfections, guaranteeing excellent printability and which, at the same weight, has a greater consistency».

It’s precisely the combination of the N-flute with digital printing, developed with another key machine operating in the same factory - that is, the HP digital printer - that gave a further impetus to ICO’s activities, enabling it, in this way, to establish innovative technical and qualitative standards for corrugated cardboard packaging, besides opening up to new markets.

«We were among the first five manufacturers in the world to acquire this machine in 2019, which currently print sheets up to a size of 1,320×2,500 mm, with water-based inks that “travel” at a speed of 90 m/min» Rita Lancia points out. «Since then, thanks to the effective collaboration with HP which acknowledged our skills and expertise, we have contributed to evolving the technology, optimising productivity in the field while leaving unchanged the excellent standard of graphic and colour rendering comparable to offset».

Together with the ability to get the best out of new technologies, ICO also has a clear vision of growth and an uncommon aptitude for service:

«Long accredited as reliable and proactive suppliers to large local food and pharmaceutical companies, we have made the most of their logistical proximity to our factories, planning lines of development, besides providing a recovery and recycling service for obsolete packaging for our customers, with a view to circularity: the Pianella factory is expanding into new market segments alongside the historical one. At the same time, the San Giovanni Teatino and Foggia factories are undergoing further modernisation, consolidating the traditional business».

A controlled growth

To better contextualise ICO Industria Cartone Ondulato today, we here retrace, albeit in a brief historical excursus, the events that have characterised its evolution.

ICO was established in Abruzzo in 1952 on the initiative of Loreto Lancia, who had seen the potential of corrugated cardboard as a “material of the future”, useful for making boxes which are resistant and easy to transport, alternatives to the traditional wooden containers of the time. The first manufacturing site was situated in San Giovanni Teatino (Province of Chieti).

The company installed the first corrugating machine at the beginning of the 1970s, and at the end of the same decade, a paper mill, and then gradually added to the fleet of machines with significant investments supporting a quality production: slotters, casemakers, die-cutters, fold and glue systems…

Over time, the consolidation of the business was accompanied by a policy of expansion through external means, such as the acquisition in the early 2000’s of a factory in Foggia, specialised in the production of boxes for fruit and vegetables, and in 2005 the expansion of activities in Abruzzo with a new and more modern plant in Pianella (Province of Pescara), where important resources were committed to increasing the efficiency and modernization of the production processes.

Innovative assets include the Quantum2 corrugator, very evolved from a technological point of view and operating in the Pianella factory, the HP C550 PageWide single-pass digital printer, which allows ICO to lead the market with products “with high image potential”, as well as the vertical warehouse, which works like a “lung” for the semi-finished product between the corrugator and converting machine.

Here are some numbers that describe today the enterprise and its potential:

  • 450,000 m2 of cardboard produced every day;
  • 75,000 m2 the surface area occupied by the production sites;
  • 250 t of paper recycled every day;
  • 500 orders processed every day;
  • 90 million euros of turnover in 2023;
  • 250 direct workers.

Our network