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Packaging Design

Amcor Lightweights PET Bottle Finish By 50%

Image courtesy of Amcor Rigid Packaging Amcor-Quantum-PET-bottle-Finish-b-770x400.png
Introducing Quantum from Amcor Rigid Packaging, the next step in bottle lightweighting that focuses on the finish aka the threads that accept a cap or closure.

The obvious first step in PET bottle lightweighting over the years has centered on the bottle itself, for example reducing the amount of polymer in the bottle’s sidewall and base. Some results have been extreme wherein the bottle becomes nearly pouch like.

On a related front and from a holistic viewpoint came the lightweighting of the caps and closures that are used with bottles.

More recently, progressive brands and bottle makers have turned to eliminating the label by etching or engraving the alphanumeric text and graphics into the bottle surface.

Now Amcor Rigid Packaging blazes a new pathway to additional lightweighting that's focused on the bottle finish i.e., the threaded neck.

The company’s revolutionary two-step, lightweighting Quantum technology eliminates more than 50% of the material and weight in the finish of PET bottles. Two years in development, the patented technology delivers sustainability benefits, lowers cost, and improves packaging appearance for markets from drinks to personal care to food to healthcare.

As well, it reduces manufacturing costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, resulting in energy savings and lower carbon emissions compared to bottles with a traditional finish.

Also, Quantum allows for using up to 100% recycled content.

“Our customers and consumers alike are looking for ways to support the circular economy and eliminate waste, and our engineers have developed a new technology that meets their needs and advances more sustainable packaging,” says Terry Patcheak, VP of R&D, sustainability and project management, ARP. “We’re helping our customers support source reduction, reduce material use and reduce weight, which means a lighter and more sustainable package.”

According to Amcor’s lifecycle analysis, PET bottles often have the lowest carbon footprint, and their production results in up to 70% fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than other packaging materials.

More cool things to know about Quantum.

We interviewed Patcheak, who provides the following answers for those interested in additional details.

PT-APR-Terry-Patcheak-PQ-720x400.png

The name was borrowed from physics.

“In physics, a quantum is the minimum amount of any physical entity or property. We used this thinking in how we looked at the finish. In examining each separate element, we realized certain features could be minimized, and others subtracted or assigned new functional tasks. Once we reassembled these optimized elements, we found the ultimate finish of the bottle met the requirements of its intended purpose without unnecessary material or features.”

The Quantum finish accepts the same closure customers are currently using.

“The design philosophy of Quantum is to minimize material in the finish while maintaining the same relationship with the closure our customers use today. Providing our customers with the ability to take advantage of the technology benefits with little to no investment on their part is key.”

Patcheak discloses specific details. “For traditional 2-step PET bottles, the finish is made up of several elements: a thread that sometimes includes a temper bead to break away the portion of a tamper-evident (TE) closure, a recess below the TE bead, and a support flange to assist the preform into the blowmolder.”

The weight of its 200mL PET container was cut by 20% and its 375mL by 13%.

“That was in comparison to our own stock spirits flask offerings and was achieved without impacting the function or feel of the package. We expect up to a 55% weight reduction depending on the finish to which Quantum is applied. The finish weight is a relatively small percentage of the full weight of most containers, but we are looking at every gram of every element as an opportunity.”

Early adopters are expected to commercialize in early 2023.

If a container can be light weighted without sacrificing performance, then we have a winning solution.

“The two-step Quantum technology is applicable for all spirits bottle sizes, thereby expanding our preform library. We have two sizable opportunities lined up that we expect will land on shelves in the next six months, and a pipeline that will keep us busy for a few years.

“Since we made the announcement in November, we are now seeing interest in segments beyond spirits. We anticipate that brands in the food or dairy space will find this technology particularly appealing. Innovative customers recognize the need to optimize and see the cost-saving advantages.”

Success followed a dramatic change in viewpoint.

“Many finishes in use today are based on old glass specifications. These specs were built around the manufacturing process capability of glass packaging. Our engineers thought about the problem differently.

“Skepticism was the only real hurdle, which then became the perfect fuel to prove Quantum’s performance. Removing the support flange delivered most of the weight reduction. Other modest adjustments to the finish were intentional. It took about two years to go from ideation to confirming feasibility and proof of concept. Once we produced containers and filled them at our customer’s operations, we knew we had it.”                                                                                                  

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