Trade Resources Industry Views Coca-Cola Amatil Is Now a Significant Packaging Player in The Australasian Region

Coca-Cola Amatil Is Now a Significant Packaging Player in The Australasian Region

Coca-Cola Amatil is not only one of the biggest beverage companies in this market, but its move into blowfill production now makes it a significant packaging player in the Australasian region, with the sustainability commitment to match. PKN reports.

FutureWorks is an apt name for the CCA team behind the forward thinking sustainable packaging ideas that the company is bringing to market. Charged with the task of bringing the “un-commercialisable” to life, FutureWorks operates as a pre-Stage/Gate function for ideation and feasibility assessment and its role is to feed the business with innovation, utilising existing executional streams and strengths.

And it's this team's visionary approach that has led to a string of awards for the company, most recent of which is the Australian Packaging Covenant High Performers Award in the Large Beverage Company category.

So what did CCA do to achieve this? The long answer involves many projects and ways in which FutureWorks has embedded the Sustainable Packaging Guidelines in practice and procedure throughout the organisation. The short answer lies in one particular initiative that has had wide ranging positive outcomes: CCA's blowfill project.

In 2010 CCA embarked on the largest and most ambitious beverage bottling project our market has seen to date. It was the vertical integration of CCA's PET bottling infrastructure and involved upgrading/replacing all PET lines in Australia (14 in total) and New Zealand (5) and installation of new lines across Papua New Guinea and Indonesia as increased capacity was required. The project covered all product ranges including carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), water and warmfill beverages. The scope included design and development of 13 preforms, 83 bottles and 4 closures across Australia and New Zealand.

Craig Walker, National Packaging Manager of FutureWorks explains: “Australia installed and commissioned the first lines in April 2010. The project also involved the construction of a dedicated preform and closure facility in Eastern Creek.”

Positive outcomes

Walker says the project led to significant lightweighting of all PET packs with savings ranging from 10% up to 40%.

“Most SKUs are best practice in the Coke System and the 600ml Mount Franklin water bottle was the lightest in the world at the time,” says Walker.

The Mount Franklin bottle won the Gold Sustainability Award at the Australian Packaging Awards and then a 2013 Worldstar Award plus the Bronze Worldstar Sustainability Award.

In Indonesia, CCA has just gone to market with its lightest PET water bottle to date, weighing in at 10.5g, under the Ades brand.

While Walker acknowledges CCA will never have the lightest CSD bottles in the world due to the stringent quality requirements of The Coca-Cola Company, CCA did achieve the lightest weight Coca-Cola 600ml bottle when it redesigned the pack in 2011.

The project also saw significant closure lightweighting with CSD and water closures lightweighted by over 30% and conversion from two-piece CSD closures to one-piece linerless caps. As part of its investment in lightweighting packaging, CCA also built a facility to manufacture lightweight closures in Western Sydney to supply the Australian and NZ operations.

An important outcome was the diameter standardisation of PET packs which saw a reduction in number from 27 to 7 in Australia/NZ and from 35 to 8 across the entire group.

“Obviously a lot of the older packs are not being changed but as they are redeveloped and replaced the new standards kick in,” says Walker.

Following from diameter standardisation there has been standardisation of label panel dimensions allowing common label sizes to be used for both water and CSD.

In the area of secondary packaging for water, there's been a conversion from wrap-around cartons to either tray and shrink, or shrink only, in all states except Queensland.

The introduction of blowfill technology at CCA has reduced the carbon footprint of every 600ml bottle by 22% on average.

New take on existing technology

CCA's introduction of nitro warmfill technology for its Powerade range, and the attendant  packaging changes found recognition for CCA's Powerade bottle, which won the Australian Packaging Design Awards last year on three counts: for Innovation, Sustainability and overall Best In Show. It also won a 2014 WPO World Star award, and was a major contributing factor in the APC award.

As Walker explains, the components of the technology (warmfill and nitrogen dosing) are not new, however, CCA is the first to combine the two into a nitro warmfill application.

“Warmfill refers to the filling temperature which is approximately 73-77°C, whereas our previous process was hotfill where we fill at 83-85°C,” he says.

“The elevated filling temperature is used simply to sterilise the packaging as the products are generally sensitive in nature. The sterilisation of the packaging is a function of time and temperature so, as we have decreased temperature we have had to increase the hold time before cooling.

“Hotfill is a global standard for the Coke System and other bigger players whereas a number of smaller players locally have been in warmfill for some years.

“Nitrogen has been used in different applications in PET for many, many years. Initially it was used in lighter weight water bottles to provide stability through the supply chain and transport and more recently, in hotfill applications to offset the vacuum created as the product cools.

“In traditional hot or warmfill bottles there are a series of panels, generally under the label, which flex to absorb vacuum. With nitrogen dosing the pressure from the nitrogen is used to offset the vacuum effects.

“We decided to combine the two technologies to maximise the benefits through the project.

“By converting to warmfill we are now filling below the glass transition of PET which removes a lot of the complexity of hotfill PET which in turn simplifies the design and allows lighter weights to be achieved. And, by also using nitrogen we can further lightweight as we don’t need the weight of PET to help stop the pack deforming under vacuum.”

Significant energy savings have been made in the blowing process because mould temperatures are run significantly lower than the previous hotfill bottles supplied by third party suppliers and due to the simplified process described above which has drastically reduced the high pressure air required.

In addition to the PET and energy savings achieved, the Powerade bottle, which now weighs in at 24g versus 33g prior to the project, also has a new foil-less sports closure, a change that has resulted in further raw material savings, improved ease of opening and accessibility, and a reduction in potential litter items.

At the same time, the company developed new lightweight flat caps for the Powerade, Glaceau, Goulburn Valley and Nestea brands.

With this project CCA has been able to produce the most environmentally friendly packs in this product class, and not only is it a great looking pack, the sales uplift it achieved is approaching double digits.

Not bad for a couple of years' work!

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