Amcor Rigid Plastics (Ann Arbor, MI), one of the leading global manufacturers of rigid plastic packaging for the food, beverage, spirits, personal/home care and healthcare industries, has been recognized by the WorldStar 2015 Packaging Awards Competition, the global packaging industry's most prestigious award competition sponsored by the World Packaging Organisation (WPO). Amcor captured a beverage award for the development of the industry's lightest heat-set polyethylene terephthalate (PET) container, designed exclusively for a leading beverage supplier.
The innovative 500-ml bottle sets a new benchmark for heat-set PET containers, says Amcor, enabling manufacturers to achieve aseptic filling packaging weights without a prohibitive investment, while offering a more eco-friendly option. Amcor's Latin America design team, based in Miramar, FL, worked in partnership with the beverage maker to develop the container, which gives regional consumers a lighter, more functional sports bottle. The product has been initially launched in Central America with future plans calling for distribution throughout the entire Latin America region.
"We are delighted to be recognized with a WorldStar award for our longstanding commitment to innovation," said Carlos Londono, Senior/Group Lead Designer for Amcor Rigid Plastics. "We're thrilled that we have developed a game-changing package that is highly functional, provides long-term production savings, and delivers major sustainability benefits."
The new 500-ml container is claimed to be the most eco-friendly PET bottle in the market. Compared to a standard 500-ml heat-set PET container weighing about 34 grams, the new bottle is just 22 grams, or approximately 30% lighter. The material reduction increases the bottle's recyclability and reduces the energy needed for its production, dramatically decreasing the package's environmental footprint. Greenhouse gas emissions are cut by 26%, energy use is reduced by 23% and water consumption is decreased by 24%. The new container also results in a 26% reduction in the amount of waste that could potentially end up in a landfill.
Currently, aseptic filling applications allow for lightweight bottling; however, those systems are capital intensive. Amcor's approach to hot-fill packaging will change the beverage packaging industry, especially for emerging markets, according to Londono. Hot-fill manufacturers who desire to use lightweight containers won't need to make a capital investment in aseptic filling lines in order to maintain competitive pricing.
Achieving the lightweight properties that could withstand intense vacuum absorption was a big challenge. Amcor applied its VAB technology to the base and ERGO technology to the body. The VAB base is a lightweighted diaphragm-like structure that aids in the cooling process by helping to absorb vacuum.
"The structure of the bottle had to be designed to provide both function and aesthetics when absorbing the vacuum," said Jeff Klok, Senior Industrial Designer for Amcor Rigid Plastics. "Pushing the boundaries of conventional weights, we found that the light weight of the package was ultimately the biggest challenge."
The new hot-fill package also offers Latin American consumers a more functional sports bottle. Previous containers have typically been more robust and rigid, making them harder to squeeze. "This wasn't going to be an option for us," said Klok. "Rather than trying to force rigidity, we embraced the flexibility." The new bottle's grip has been engineered and designed to enhance the consumer's overall experience. The Amcor design offers a sleek, ergonomic form with oppositional hand grips that flex under pressure. This feature, in combination with grooved finger-holds and a sports cap closure, creates a highly functional squeeze bottle that utilizes the flexibility made available by lightweighting for rapid rehydration.
Along with the ultra-lightweight container, Amcor and Bericap developed the industry's lightest 33-mm tamper-evident finish/closure for hot fill, weighing in at just 3.7 grams. Amcor believes the unique finish will become a new standard for hot-fill bottles due to the 7.9 gram reduction in weight compared to the standard 38-mm ALCOA.
This new finish led to the creation of a Bericap closure with a built-in seal that eliminates rubber liners or induction seal foils, thus reducing overall materials use. The Bericap closure is made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) instead of polypropylene (PP) like the previous caps. HDPE is more widely accepted than PP in recycle streams and the absence of any other barrier materials such as ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) or paper/foil increases recyclability, says Amcor.
The new hot-fill bottle is designed to run on existing filling lines with minimal changeover. In addition to 500-ml bottles, the new design will be adapted to other package sizes including 350- and 600-ml and 1-L containers.
The WorldStar Packaging Competition is one of the major events of the World Packaging Organisation and is the pre-eminent international award in packaging. The 2015 competition received 264 entries from 37 countries around the world. To be eligible for the WPO WorldStar Awards, the entry must be a winner in a national or multi-national competition that is recognized by WPO. Amcor was the winner of the beverage/non-alcoholic category in the 2014 AmeriStar Package Awards Competition, North America's most prestigious packaging award competition sponsored by the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP). All WorldStar winners will be recognized during a ceremony at the IPACKIMA 2015 exhibition in Milan, Italy, to be held May 19 to 23.