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Big brands, converters and retailers collaborate to reduce glass weight

Top brands, bottle manufacturers, retailers and technology experts have teamed up with WRAP (the Government-backed Waste & Resources Action Programme) to explore ways of taking 20,000 tonnes of glass from beer, cider and spirit packaging from the UK waste stream by March 2008.

The “GlassRite Beer, Cider & Spirits” project will investigate the technical, economic and marketing aspects of lighter weight packaging, bringing together some of these drinks sectors’ biggest names, including Coors UK, Scottish & Newcastle, Anheuser-Busch and SAB Miller, spirits producers Whyte & MacKay and ale brewers Hall & Woodhouse and Fullers and Robinsons. Also participating are Morrisons and all the UK’s major glass packaging manufacturers – Allied Glass, Beatson Clark, Quinn Glass, Rockware and O-I.

WRAP project manager Nicola Jenkin says: “Being able to involve so many major players from across the supply chain is further evidence that optimising packaging is a major priority for the industry. Our research shows that if each UK glass container was just 10% lighter, we could save 250,000 tonnes of glass annually and reduce carbon emissions by 180,000 tonnes. Alcoholic drinks bottles make up a large proportion, so this project has huge potential.”

GlassRite Beer, Cider & Spirits will use consumer perception research, bottle performance testing, filling trials and commercial viability assessments to “identify and solve issues surrounding lightweighting glass containers”. Cost and carbon emissions will also be evaluated. Technology providers involved will include independent technical and services consultancy Glass Technology Services (GTS), consumer perception specialists at the University of Bangor and Brewing Research International.

GlassRite Beer, Cider and Spirits is one of three GlassRite projects. The others – involving food, soft drinks and flavoured alcoholic beverages and wine – examine optimising packaging from their respective supply chains and aim to reduce the weight of glass packaging by 60,000 tonnes by next March.

WRAP says its earlier ContainerLite project demonstrated that significant glass weight savings can be achieved without compromising pack strength or brand integrity. East Anglian brewer Adnams, for instance, reduced the weight of its 500ml bottle for ales such as Adnams Bitter, Explorer and Broadside by 34%.

In an earlier WRAP lightweighting project Adnams reduced the weight of its 500ml beer bottle by 34%