The project has worked extensively with stakeholders in the beer, cider and spirits sectors, and in particular brand owner-fillers and the UK glass manufacturers, to highlight the benefits of rightweighting, and identify rightweighting opportunities within brand portfolios.
The project has supported brand owners in the development of these opportunities and in addressing barriers which could slow or prevent initiatives reaching market. Key barriers addressed through the project have been bottle fitness for purpose during filling, transit and consumption, and also critically, marketing image and consumer perceptions of rightweighted bottles.
Through representation at seminars, conferences and stakeholder meetings, along with project newsletters and press releases, significant profile has been given to the rightweighting agenda, and some of the early achievements under the project. These activities have helped to raise awareness of these achievements and the benefits and possibilities of rightweighting.
Through its activities, the project has identified and supported more than 15 rightweighting initiatives, delivering glass savings from the UK waste stream of ~32kt per annum, against the project target of 20kt. An associated carbon emissions saving of some 22,000 tonnes of CO 2 has been achieved.
Participants have variously undertaken such initiatives in the name of reducing glass and PRN liability costs, improving process and line efficiencies, meeting retailer requirements for packaging reduction and shelf ready packaging, reducing their environmental impacts, and refreshing and enhancing marketing image. These initiatives demonstrate that significant rightweighting can either take place without noticeably changing bottle appearance or indeed, be used to enhancing a brand's marketing appeal.
The relatively low number of initiatives and tonnage achievement in the spirits sector is strongly associated with a high barrier to weight reduction which is closely linked to the premium brand image in this sector, perceived consumer expectations, and the needs of a largely export market. In addition, due to the low run numbers on many of the premium brands, residual mould costs for existing designs can represent a significant cost barrier. However, through project activities there is evidence of increasing sector interest in and debate around the issue of rightweighting, and previous work in the sector to lightweight highstreet name blended brands should not be overlooked.
Additional Research Undertaken
Beyond achievement of delivery of tonnage savings, the project has delivered a number of pieces of research including:
- The impact of rightweighting on the light protection offered by glass - showing that protection against lightstrike is not significantly compromised by rightweighting.
- The future of forming technology - this study has highlighted that technological possibilities exist for further lightweighting of containers, beyond current technologies, but suggests that the development and use of such technologies is strongly interlinked with societal demands, and the operational needs of the glass manufacturers; and
- A spirits brand consumer perception study - this work demonstrated that strong consumer appeal can be maintained in a rightweighted spirit bottle.
In order to maintain the momentum created during the project and encourage replication of its achievements, significant advocacy work should take place going forward. This could include further events, ongoing one-to- one contact with brand owners and retailers, and the development of case studies, and trade press articles highlighting the achievements under the project.
Recognising the particular spirits sector premium image / premiumisation issues identified through the project, it is recommended that an audit of spirits bottle weights be conducted to better understand where the opportunities lie in this sector, and critically, an extended spirits consumer perception study to advise the thinking of marketeers in the spirits sector.
The achievements of this project have relied heavily on the commitment, energy and enthusiasm of a wide network of participants. Particular thanks go to:
- The brand owners, for their commitment to the rightweighting ethos, and willingness to share their achievements with the wider sector;
- The UK glass manufacturers, who provided much of the technical "know how" and design capabilities underpinning the project;
- The Project Steering Group, for their enthusiasm and guidance in support of the project and its aims;
- The Proposal Approval Group, for their very considerable efforts in support of the project funding mechanism proposal, and the wider project support from the sector associations they represent; and
- WRAP, for their support and enthusiasm during the project, and for the funding which made this project possible.
Wine Project Summary
GlassRite Wine, a WRAP funded project delivered by British Glass, ran from July 2006 to March 2008. The project supported the supply chain for the wine industry in rightweighting the bottles they used and maximising the opportunity to bulk import wine and fill in the UK. The project successfully delivered new lightweight wine bottles into the UK and substantially increased bulk importation and UK filling. This reduced the amount of glass in the UK waste stream and increased the demand for recovered glass back into new wine bottles.
The project has contributed CO 2 saving of over 28,300 tonnes/annum by increasing bulk importation of wine for UK filling by 79 million glass bottles which has in turn increased the use of UK recycled glass due to increased UK wine bottle manufacture by 23,930 tonnes/annum and reduced glass packaging for wine by 11,397 tonnes/annum due to lightweighting. The Drive for Packaging Reduction There is considerable drive in the UK to reduce the amount of packaging consumed across all sectors. This requirement is embodied in the EU Packaging Waste Directive, and at a more local level, the Government Waste Strategy, the activities of WRAP and its Courtauld Commitment. Drivers include reduced raw material consumption, effective use of recycled materials, a reduction in waste to landfill and associated carbon emission savings.
Beyond the environmental arguments, there is a strong business case for packaging reduction due to the supply chain in terms of cost savings, process efficiencies, and marketing possibilities it offers. This can be achieved either through engineering out unnecessary elements of packaging, or as is the case here, increasing bulk importation of wine for UK filling and using lightweight bottles.