Speaking to Clive Smith, Zone VP, Sidel GMEA, at Gulfood Manufacturing, in Dubai recently, he told FoodProductionDaily that in the US everyone is trying to ‘get the lightest bottle they can get their hands on’ and suppliers in the country are fighting for every cent, but the same is not true elsewhere.
'We can't always lightweight'
“We want everyone to use as little PET (poly(ethylene terephthalate)) as possible but we can’t just lightweight packaging for the sake of cost, we have to look at countries where the infrastructure is not as good as Europe and we can’t always ‘lightweight’ without affecting the integrity of the product,” he said.
As an example, Smith spoke about the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and how PET bottles are the only suitable form of packaging for countries such as Africa.
“How would the refugees in Lebanon get their water if it was delivered by glass? You wouldn’t be able to do it. Even in Africa, glass is not easily recycled there, so there are more benefits to using PET with its flexible bottle designs and the labels can be done in different ways to stand out,” he added.
He said Hariss International, based in Uganda, won the AfriStar Award and medal in recognition of the designs of its Riham-branded bottles at East AfriPack in Nairobi, Kenya, in September.
Removable mould inserts
The awards, organised by the Africa Packaging Organisation (APO), are the first to cover all African regions, recognising the best in creative design, technology and marketing.
Smith said the winning bottles were blown on Hariss International's Sidel PET bottling lines using Modulomould, a patented technology which allows the production of several bottle shapes from a single mould.
Based on removable mould inserts that can be changed within 30 seconds, Modulomould can adapt bottle designs to meet the needs of different markets.
Talking about the Middle East market, Smith claims based on feedback at Gulfood it discovered consumers do not always like the feel of a squeezable bottle if it is too lightweight because they can’t grab hold of the product properly to turn the screw cap and, as the pressure is released it can squeeze the contents out, making a mess.
To counter that problem, Sidel launched Rightweight, a 0.5l PET bottle for still water last year. It weighs 7.95g with a top-load performance of 33kg without nitrogen dosing, using standard 26/22 caps.
Smith said the increased resistance of the product avoids the 'over squeeze' issue experienced by end consumers when using ultra-light bottles. Increased resistance also makes it easier to unscrew the cap and open the bottle.
“’Rightweight’ is about the lightest possibility in packaging given your circumstances and given what your customers need,” he added.
“Customers using PET are now talking about lightweighting, blowing it at lower pressures, saving energy costs and redesigning the bottles, or, converting to PET if they haven’t already done so.
“The RightWeight bottle can be adapted to existing production lines that use standard cap formats and design elements can be adapted for existing or new commercial bottles.”