The new bottle is called the Escape and represents a giant step forward in invertible-base technology. Honest Tea, the United States’ top-selling organic bottled tea company, based in Bethesda, Maryland, is the first customer to adopt the Escape bottle
“As a company, we have a very high commitment to minimising our environmental footprint,” said Seth Goldman, president and ‘TeaEO’ of Honest Tea. “Our packaging has always been our biggest challenge in that regard. This is the single largest improvement we’ve ever taken in terms of reducing our environmental impact.”
The Escape is 6.5g lighter than the PET bottle Honest Tea was previously using: “We’re taking about 20% of the weight out of the container,” said Paul Kelley, senior engineering manager for PET R&D at Graham Packaging. “And it takes fewer resources to make the bottle and fewer resources to transport the bottle.” The Escape is also fully recyclable.
Several other customers are finalising designs for their versions of the Escape. Each design will be proprietary to the specific customer. While the bottle initially will be used for teas, juices and isotonic drinks, it’s also suitable for jellies, jams and salsas.
After the bottle is filled and capped, it goes through a CMA, a “continuous motion activator” – a machine that inverts the base, which takes up the vacuum in the bottle and creates a slight overpressure.
“This process gives the bottle a rigid feel, like glass, but it’s lighter,” said Phillip Sheets, senior project manager for Graham Packaging.
The patented CMA represents a major technology advance over the active transverse panel (ATP) technology, which Graham Packaging introduced in 2004 to produce the first panel-free, hot-fill bottle. The old inverse-base process required a complex bottle-handling system during manufacturing. The CMA eliminates that and fits into the filling line.
“The CMA is inexpensive, easy to install and doesn’t require an operator,” said Mark Leiden, Graham Packaging’s vice president of global marketing and PET business manager. “It’s the equivalent of putting a labelling machine in a bottling line.”
Bowman Apple Products in Mt Jackson, Virginia, and J Lieb Foods Inc in Forest Grove, Oregon, are the first two locations to install Graham’s CMA.
Jim Lieb, president and CEO of J Lieb Foods, said adding the CMA to the filling line was as simple as adding another conveyor: “It had no negative impact,” he said.
“We anticipate that several other locations will install CMAs this year,” Leiden said. “We’re getting a big push by our customers to continue our lightweighting and sustainability efforts, and Escape plays a big part in our whole Sustainer family. We now have the G-Lite series for those who use traditional vacuum panels, and Escape for those who want smooth walls.”
Source: Graham Packaging Company
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