Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) has opened two new blowfill lines costing AUS $35m at its Australian bottling facility in Adelaide, in a move that it said would significantly reduce its use of PET resin and energy.
The firm said the new line technology at the site – which produces 110m polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles a year, including brands such as Coca-Cola, Sprit and Fanta – would allow it to manufacture and design beverage bottles onsite using less raw materials.
Blowfill technology represents the largest single capital expenditure investment in CCA’s history, the firm said, adding that it would “fundamentally change” the nature of manufacturing within the business.
CCA md Warwick White said: “The introduction of this technology has enabled us to redesign and lightweight our entire small carbonated soft drink and water PET bottle range.”
Production efficiency gains
White added that benefits for CCA included significant cost savings and production efficiency gains, while customers would also gain from increased product shelf life and stacking ability.
Internal sustainability goals would also be serviced by blowfill technology, White said, given lesser demands on water and energy that would enable the firm to reduce the carbon footprint of beverage containers by over 20 per cent.
Specifically, water savings and energy were due to the fact that blowfill enabled CCA to produce PET bottles using less resin, lighter labels and shorter, redesigned caps without liners.
Moreover, blowfill bottles do not need rinsing prior to filling, said CCA, while low-pressure ‘blowing’ of preforms into bottles also reduced energy costs.
White said: “A significant portion of these savings will come from bottle redesigns that use less PET resin, with others from the elimination of the need to transport empty bottles to CCA bottling facilities, and energy savings on the line.”
Further production process changes will also allow CCA to reduce its use of cardboard and shrink plastic in secondary packaging, the company said.
Taken together, these measures meant that blowfill technology would reduce the carbon footprint of CCA’s PET bottles by over 20 per cent, CCA predicted.
PET resin reductions
As evidence for this prediction, CCA cited a 2011 MSc thesis by Martina Birk examining blowfill technology at its Sydney site in Australia, which found there was a 22 per cent reduction in the carbon footprint of each 600ml container.
Birk attributed this to 15-23 per cent less PET resin use in bottle production, a 33 per cent cut in resin use in closures and 30 per cent less energy use due to low-pressure blowing.
The technology also enabled the Sydney facility to save energy by eliminating the use of a ‘warmer’ and filling the bottles at room temperature instead, Birk said.
CCA predicted that it would save over 9,000 tonnes of PET resin a year following the installation of blowfill technology across all production lines in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
1 tonne of PET resin would now make 46,500 bottles compared with 38,000 in 2004, CCA said.