Packed with Responsibility
Ever wondered how the beverage in your hand always tastes consistent and amazing, no matter which part of the country you buy it?
Here is the known and not so known facts about our packages
Glass Bottles – Glass bottles come to our factories from approved suppliers. Before reaching our plants, they undergo various steps, such as raw material mixing, melting, blowing, annealing and finally packing.
The Cleaning and Refilling Process
After enjoying your refreshing beverage, the empty recyclable glass bottles (RGBs) you leave at the consumption points (shops/restaurants) are collected and brought back to our factories. Here, they undergo a robust cleaning process. The bottles are fed into bottle washers, where they undergo multiple levels of cleaning with water, hot caustic solution, hot water and again rinsed with fresh, treated water.
After washing, the bottles are inspected through EBI (Electronic Bottle Inspector) technology to remove those which are damaged or contain foreign matter. After inspection, the selected bottles are fed to the filler and crowner. The bottles are then checked through filled bottle inspection system for right crowning, fill level, date coding and more. Finally, the bottles are packed into crates and they reach the consumption points, once again!
PET Bottles – PET Bottles are the preferred packaging for many products because it is one of the most convenient, safe, sturdy and cost-effective packages known to mankind. They can also easily be moulded into all kinds of shapes.
Unlike other plastics, the PET container for beverages, in India is made of virgin PET resin. It is not used in multilayer with other plastics.
PET is 100 percent recyclable, and recycled PET (rPET) finds huge demand as fibre in industries, such as textile and luggage and other industries. This simple container structure and ready demand for rPET makes PET the most recycle-friendly of all plastics.
Used PET bottles are highly sought after items by waste collectors, who sell the bottles to Kabadiwallahs or waste traders, who employ people to segregate, sort and further sell it to large vendors or recyclers. The caps, neck rings, labels (non-PET components) are removed, and the bottles are shredded, washed, and sold as what is called ‘washed flakes’.
These washed flakes are then used to make (predominantly) polyester fibre, which is used as filling material for cushions, pillows, and converted to fabrics for use in clothing, upholstery and more. The market for recycled PET products is quite large. There are 40+ large manufacturers, spread over 46 locations across India who use recycled PET as raw material.
This entire operation, at each stage-collection, sorting, processing, recycling and manufacturing is profitable, and is what incentivises the system to function smoothly and seamlessly, operating this waste-to-wealth ecosystem.
A lot of beverages manufactured by HCCB are packaged in RGB – Returnable Glass Bottles. Glass is 100 percent recyclable and reusable after cleaning. It is transparent so you can see what is inside and it’s impermeable, so it does not affect the taste.
That’s why the Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite or Thums Up in your hand, comes in a glass bottle.
Manufacturing a glass bottle is quite a process in itself. It involves several steps such as raw material mixing, melting, blowing and annealing packing before it takes the perfect contour that contains your favourite drink. For mixing, the raw materials such as sand, soda ash, limestone, recycled glass pieces (cullet) and other ingredients are mixed in a specific ratio in batches. The batch is then continuously melted in a furnace at approximately 1500° C.
This red-hot molten glass is conditioned, converted in gobs of predefined weights, guided into blank moulds to form a parison and then shifted to a bottle mould, where compressed air is used to blow the bottle into its final shape.
The newly formed bottle is then removed from the mould and transferred by conveyor to the annealing oven or the lehr. The external surface of the bottle is first coated with a thin layer of tin oxide to strengthen it. In the lehr (heating –cooling tunnel), the bottle is cooled from 600° C to 100° C in a controlled manner. This prevents uneven cooling, relieves the stress within the bottle and ensures that it is stable and safe to handle.
This process takes anything between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Before leaving the annealing lehr, the bottle’s external surface is coated with polyethylene wax to protect the surface of the glass and prevent scuffing between bottles.
From here the bottles undergo further visual inspection with sophisticated, high-resolution camera equipment, as well as trained specialists and then packed and sent to beverage filling plants for repeated filling cycles.
Lighter Bottle, Longer Use
When Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages was challenged with keeping smaller-sized products fresh and affordable, the innovators with the company (HCCB) created what may possibly be the lightest bottle in the world for fully carbonated products. , The “Affordable Small Sparkling Package” (ASSP).
It is a 250 ml PET bottle that maintains aesthetic appeal and the imperative product quality protections, needed for bottles to travel long distances to reach consumers in rural areas and often-extreme tropical temperatures. It is also helping the company reduce its carbon footprint.
The ‘affordable’ part of the bottle’s name relates to a historic hindrance: The product cost of bottles made specifically to reduce carbonation loss, typically increases because an increased amount of plastic is required to bolster the inner walls of the bottle. This is neither environment friendly, nor cost-effective.
So, HCCB took a new approach to deliver a high performing, lower-cost bottle that also used lesser PET resin.
The ASSP, which was introduced in 2016 and weighs less than 10 grams, took nearly two years to create. Proprietary Coca-Cola computer simulation methods were used to design the package using one-third less plastic than a standard plastic bottle in India (wt 15.5 gm) and an incredibly thin barrier layer was added to the bottle walls to prevent carbonation from escaping. When combined, these two advances extend product shelf life by a remarkable five months or more. This innovative technology can be used to reduce plastic usage in the production of plastic bottles for sparkling products up to 40 percent as compared to the production of a standard plastic bottle, in some cases the improved design does not compromise recyclability.
Recognizing the success of the ASSP in India, Coca-Cola Amatil, one of the largest bottling partners of The Coca-Cola Company in the Asia-Pacific region, commissioned an ASSP production line in Indonesia March 2017. The ASSP packs replaced an existing 250-milliliter bottle that used considerably more plastic resin per liter of product.