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Growing more eco-friendly water bottling practices

Linda Casey

January 29, 2014

7 Min Read
Growing more eco-friendly water bottling practices

Texas-based Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPSG)is now making its California dreams for more sustainable bottled water packaging a reality. At time of publication, the beverage giant is commissioning a new bottling line to fill its Deja Blue water into bottles with labels printed via Green InkTM, Southeastern Printing's trademarked, environmentally-friendly printing program. The new line is being installed in Southern California to help reduce the carbon footprint of the bottling operation and beverage distribution there.


Growing distribution
DPSG describes Deja Blue as a popular-priced, purified water that has enjoyed strong expansion of its distribution since the brand first was introduced in Texas in 1997. By 2002, Deja Blue's distribution grew to include 10 states, with availability in portions of 10 others.


As the product distribution expanded, the stewards of the brand also grew its initiatives to minimize the bottled water's impact on the environment. Since August 2007, there has been a 35 percent reduction in the plastic used for Deja Blue's bottles and closures. According to DPSG, this action has likely reduced the quantity of plastic that is sent to landfills by an amount that is 2.5 times the weight of the Statue of Liberty.


To further increase the sustainability of its bottling practices, the company is now commissioning a bottling line at a new facility in Victorville, CA. The 850,000-sq-ft plant is located on 57 acres near located near California Logistics Airport and was intended primarily to fill a void in the company's distribution network.


The location also reduces the need for long-distance transport of empty Deja Blue bottles to the packaging facility. All bottles for the newly commissioned Line 5 will be shipped from Plastipak Packaging Inc.'s converting facility in Victorville.


"There's a lot to go around and a couple of runways between Plastipak's building and ours," remarks DPSG director of engineering Patrick George, "but that's pretty much it."

Blowing a ‘greener' bottle
Plastipak Packaging blow molds the bottles and applies PETG labels supplied by Southeastern Printing through its Green Ink environmentally-conscious printing program. The package printer contends that its trademarked Green Ink approach is all-encompassing and covers the process from concept to completion versus a material-minded approach, where eco-conscious paper and ink selection may be negated by the converting and printing processes.

According to Southeastern Printing CEO Don Mader, this eco-minded approach begins as early as the order placement process. For the Deja Blue business, DPSG has approved Southeastern Printing as a preferred vendor for the labels, but leaves the actual ordering to the bottle supplier, Plastipak Packaging.

"And all these orders come in electronically," Mader explains. "There's no paper being used. From this paperless system, we process the order and generate an electronic job ticket."

The electronic job ticket is received by Southeastern Printing's prepress department, which prepares artwork using software from EskoArtwork. "The Esko system is very user friendly, and it interfaces with many different software packages," Mackert explains. "We also like its seven-color extended gamma package; it's pretty exciting. A lot of printers talk about seven colors, we're actually able to do it now and that will open up a lot of other opportunities for us."


Mader adds, "And it marries up well with the DuPont [CtP]system. We are 100 percent computer-to-plate, so there's no film and chemistry being used."


The company also has upgraded its anilox roller cleaning system to a more sustainable system supplied by Flexo Concepts Inc. "Prior to having the Micro-Clean system, we had used a water system with chemistry," Mader notes. "The Micro-Clean anilox installation enabled us to get rid of all that and resulted in the elimination of 150 gal of cleaning solution that we would have had to process out."


Flexo Concepts' MicroClean system is an off-press, enclosed anilox roll cleaning system that uses specially designed plastic pellets to remove dried inks and coatings. Fine polymer beads are applied under air pressure to pick the dried matter from the anilox engraving, restoring cells to their original volume.

Chemical use avoided
According to the manufacturer, MicroClean media are non-abrasive to prevent damage to delicate anilox cell walls. The system operates without chemicals or consuming fresh water. The enclosed system contains built-in safety controls and generates no dust or harsh chemicals, which could compromise workplace safety. "It is one of the best in-depth cell cleaning systems for the industry," says Southeastern Printing COO Jack Mackert.


The imaged plates and cleaned rollers are mounted onto a Comco flexographic press, which sports an upgraded UV ink curing system. "UV ink or UV curing is the most energy efficient way to cure ink on film," Mader remarks. "And GEW is arguably the most energy efficient manufacturer of curing lamps. It cost us in excess of $1 million to remove the presses to convert them all to energy efficient UV [supplied by] GEW. "


Finished labels are flipped and rewound before being placed on recycled wooden pallets. A Lantech stretchwrapper is used to secure palleted product using wrap supplied by Unisource Worldwide Inc.


Eco-conscious & ergonomic
Labeled bottles arrive at the DPSG Victorville facility, where they are mechanically depalletized using a machine from Sentry Equipment & Erectors Inc. The depalletizer has a hoist rated at 2,500 lbs., powered by a heavy-duty gear motor and controlled by a vector drive for smooth operation. Product is presquared, which the manufacturer says ensures the containers are within the sweep area prior to each cycle.


Depalletized bottles are placed onto an infeed conveyor, which takes the bottles into the air box of a Sentry gripper rinser. The rinser's drive-end is powered by a standard 5 hp electric motor; the vacuum blower is powered by a standard 2 hp electric blower motor. Nozzles spray ionized air over the bottles to remove any debris. 

According to DPSG director of engineering Eric Gold, the air rinser is a more eco-conscious way to clean bottles because it eliminates the waste water generated by traditional bottle cleaning methods.


After cleaning, the bottles are filled by a Crown Holdings Inc. filler with purified, ozonated water. The water is purified using a Siemens Water Technologies reverse osmosis water purification system. The 1,200 gal/min system uses media and carbon filtration, nanofiltration, reserve osmosis and UV disinfection. 

Fill levels are checked using an Industrial Dynamics/filtec filler management system.

A Vacuum Barrier Corp. injection system doses liquid nitrogen into filled bottles before they are capped by an Alcoa (now Closure Systems Intl Inc.) capper. A Videojet Technologies Inc. ink-jet printer images lot numbers and one-year expiry dates onto filled bottles. The Videojet coder is engineered to offer sustainability benefits, as it consumes virtually all of its ink, thus eliminating the problems associated with ink waste.


Bottles are unitized by a Krones Inc. packer into either full wraparound cases or tray-and-shrink. The modular, continuous-motion wraparound packer can unitize containers or multipacks into wraparound cartons or trays with or without film or shrink pads. The machine has decentralized servo-motors for smooth operation while providing easier operator access. Additionally, the machine has an ergonomic design to ensure that the intervention area is completely unobstructed for DPSG line operators; the operator side and service side with all drives are clearly separated, and container guide rails are accessible from below.


Cases and trays are conveyed past a Markem-Image ink-jet printer that places lot and date codes on each unitized package before a Sen-Pack machine robotically palletizes them. A Lantech wrapper applies stretchwrap around each pallet, and a Weber Marking Systems Inc. pallet tab applicator labels the pallets before they are discharged to pallet conveyors and forklifted.


Operator ergonomics are considered throughout the system, which uses conveyors to do much of the heavy lifting. "Empty bottles, full bottles, case and pallets are all transported on Sentry Equipment & Erectors' conveyors," remarks Gold.


Line to help generate jobs
After commissioning, Line 5 will join DPSG's six other Deja Blue bottling operations across the U.S. In addition to the new plant's sustainability benefits, the facility is expected to give Southern California's economy a boost with added jobs. At time of publication, DPSG was actively doing just that and had posted several employment opportunities on its website for positions as varied as machine operator, maintenance mechanic, QA manager and QC manager at the new facility.

For more information...
Southeastern Printing, 800/226-8221. www.seprint.com
Sentry Equipment & Erectors Inc., 434/525-0769.
Comco, a Mark Andy Inc. brand, 636/532-4433.
Crown Holdings Inc., 215/698-5100. www.crowncork.com
Closure Systems Intl Inc. (CSI), 800/311-2740. www.csiclosures.com
DuPont, 800/441-7515.
EskoArtwork, 937/454-1721.
FlexoConcepts, 888/782-5233.
Industrial Dynamics/filtec,
888/434-5832. www.filtec.com
Krones Inc., 414/409-4000.
Lantech, 800/866-0322.
Markem-Imaje, 770/421-7700.
Plastipak Packaging Inc.,
734/455-3600. www.plastipak.com
Sen-Pack, an affiliated co. of
Sentry Equipment & Erectors, 386/763-3312. www.sen-pack.com
Siemens Water Technologies, 866/926-8420.
Unisource Worldwide Inc.,
Vacuum Barrier Corp., 781/933-3570. www.vacuumbarrier.com
Videojet Technologies Inc.,
800/843-3610. www.videojet.com
Weber Marking Systems Inc., 800/843-4242.

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