The item I want to handle today, doesn’t belong to the glamorous part of packaging. However its existence and eventual evolution have tremendous impact on the beverage industry and as a consequence on the sustainability credentials of the beverage packaging: the bottle.
The market environment in the mineral water and soft drinks industry, as well as in the beer sector changes rapidly. Best price offers in one-way PET are the bench mark sparking off the urgent need of a dramatic adaptation of the cost structures.
When it comes to exploiting possible saving potentials the weight of bottle and closure play an important role. Using less raw materials and moving less weight in the complete supply chain can translate in mouth-watering savings.
The new short-height neck-finish standard PCO 1881, which has been recently agreed upon within the International Society of Beverage Technologists (ISBT), is making serious inroads in the market for plastic single and multi-serve soft drink bottles (250 ml – 2 litre), taking over from the (old standard 28 mm) PCO 1810 with enormous material savings as result.
The new standard PCO 1881 seeks to reduce resin costs associated with making polyethylene terephthalate pre-forms and polyolefin closures. It will create thinner neck finishes and lighter-weight polyolefin closures, decreasing the amount of material used in pre-forms by 1.3 grams and in standard 28-mm closures by 0.5 grams.
Material reductions totalling 1.8 grams per bottle, multiplied by the hundreds of billions of pre-forms and caps moulded worldwide each year, could yield savings of hundreds of millions of dollars annually for major brand holders like Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, Cadbury Schweppes and others.
Even regional beverage companies would see resin costs reduced by hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars, depending on volume.
And last but not least, PCO 1881 has the added benefit of “green” engineering. Light-weighting a high-volume product like beverage bottles and consequently reducing the amount of post-consumer waste generated by the market, create savings on a global scale that not only equate to hundreds of thousands of tonnes of resin per year, but also have a tremendous impact on handling, transport and recycling.
Although adoption of the standard is voluntary, everybody is in on it because there are so many advantages to be exploited. Take this example: With the PCO 1881 a 600 ml PET-bottle for the Brazilian Coca-Cola is 4 mm shorter in height and weighs 26 gr, against the 28 gr of the old bottle. With the new neck-finish, the part of the bottle which is responsible for the largest share in material consumption, is thinner and smaller. The new neck-finish only has two screw threads, against three in the past. This results in a material saving of approx 1.5 gr of the PET for the bottle and 0.2 gr PP for the closure.
As the beverage industry appears to be ready to adopt the new neck-finish standard, e.g. from PCO 1810 (5.1g / 21mm length) to PCO 1881 ISBT (3.8g / 17mm), lightweight solutions are literally in everyone’s mind and consequently a number of different so-called short-neck closures have hit the market. I describe several of them in my article: “Short, Shorter, the Shortest (Part 2)”.
But what with the conversion from PCO 1810 to the new PCO 1881. The switch to PCO 1881 will lead to a major retooling of pre-form and closure moulds, but above all, a conversion also means that bottling plants must be converted to be able to handle the new thread length. Here, up to € 250,000 in conversion costs are quickly incurred – money that can be a problem to raise and invest in this financially uncertain times, particularly for the smaller bottlers.
The German company CCT (Creative Closure Technology GmbH) designed the ComPetCap CC 28/21-01 especially for carbonated beverage packaging. This is a neck and closure version, called “PCO 1881 med”, which ideally combines the material-saving neck and closure version PCO 1881 with the quality of consumer-friendly neck and closure version PCO 28 (1810) being used by the market for decades. The closure is 21 mm tall and only weighs 3.9 g, resulting in a saving of at least 1.5 g for pre-form and closure in comparison with the neck and closure version PCO 28 (1810). As the ComPetCap doesn’t require reconstruction costs on moulding, filling and capping, it makes it the lightweight alternative for owners of older bottling plants, as they can often only convert from PCO 1810 to PCO 1880 at high cost.
Is this the end of the evolution in shorter caps. I doubt it. I am sure, the development of bottle closures continues in the direction of more savings in raw material. Time will tell.