Amcor Rigid Plastics, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of rigid plastic packaging for food, beverage, spirits, personal/home care and healthcare industries, has been honored by the WorldStar 2016 Packaging Awards Competition, the global packaging industry’s most prestigious award competition sponsored by the World Packaging Organization (WPO). Amcor captured a packaging award for the development of an ultra-lightweight, hot-fill polyethylene terephthalate (PET) container designed exclusively for PepsiCo-Lipton’s tea drink brand in Central America.
The WorldStar Packaging Competition is one of the major events of the World Packaging Organization (WPO) and is the pre-eminent international award in packaging. WorldStar recognizes the continual advancement of the state of packaging design and technology and creates a living standard of international packaging excellence from which others may learn. Winners for the 2016 awards were selected by representatives from 19 packaging associations — members of WPO — who judged 293 packaging entries from 35 countries.
The 500ml package weighs only 22 grams and utilizes a 33mm finish that features a 50 percent reduction in material over a traditional 38mm finish, the company reports. The leaf body panels aid in the vacuum while providing visual movement and a comfortable gripping surface for the consumer. Additional benefits of this package are substantial ecological savings, lower operational costs and a significantly reduced carbon footprint, according to Amcor.
The innovative 500ml bottle sets a new benchmark for heat-set PET containers, designed to enable manufacturers to achieve aseptic filling packaging weights without the prohibitive investment, while offering a more eco-friendly option. Amcor’s Latin America design team, based in Miramar, Fla., worked in partnership with PepsiCo-Lipton to develop the new container which gives regional consumers a lighter, more functional bottle. The new product was initially launched in El Salvador and has since been introduced in Mexico and other Central American regions.
The PepsiCo-Lipton container is an extension of Amcor’s ultra-lightweight technology which was previously employed in a new sports beverage package in Latin America. “We are delighted to be recognized with a WorldStar 2016 Award for our longstanding commitment to innovation,” says Carlos Londono, design manager 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.”
Compared to a standard 500ml heat-set PET container weighing about 34 grams, the new bottle is just 22 grams, or approximately 30 percent 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 percent, energy use is reduced by 23 percent, and water consumption is decreased by 24 percent. The new container also results in a 26 percent 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 new innovative approach to hot-fill packaging aims to 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 which could withstand intense vacuum absorption was a big challenge. Amcor applied its vacuum absorbing base (VAB) technology to the base and ERGO technology to the body. The VAB base is a light weighted 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,” says 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.”
From a design aspect, Amcor's industrial designers focused on creating a package that evoked a subtle feminine cue with movement. The packaging constraints included a small shrink-roll label so the body structure needed to be attractive, stimulate movement, and be comfortable to grasp, all while absorbing vacuum. Grip panels were inspired by the North American Pandora package that abstractly simulates the curvature of a tea leaf and lifts the consumer’s eyes toward the label. The new shelf presence is stronger and more attention getting than the previous version. Consumers have preferred the new body structure over a traditional paneled container, finding it more engaging and attractive, according to Amcor.
Along with the ultra-lightweight container, Amcor and Bericap, in cooperation with PepsiCo, developed the industry’s lightest 33mm 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 38mm 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.
The new hot-fill bottle is designed to run on existing filling lines with minimal changeover.
In addition to Amcor Rigid Plastics’ award for the Pepsico-Lipton container, sister company Amcor Flexibles was recognized with three WorldStar awards for groundbreaking pharmaceutical, medical, and wine packaging solutions.