Plastipak Packaging, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Plastipak Holdings, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has successfully commercialized its breakthrough ThermoShape™ lightweight hot-fill technology.
The first ThermoShape™ integrated high-speed blow and fill complete packaging line went into commercial operation this month at Al Ain Mineral Water Company, a beverage subsidiary of Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) based Agthia Group. Agthia is a leading Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) area food and beverage manufacturer. A second ThermoShape™ line is scheduled to begin commercial operation at a beverage manufacturer in France by the end of 2010.
Plastipak's Director of Technology Integration, Jean-Guy Delage, said: "ThermoShape™ technology offers several significant advantages over alternative packaging options for the global non-refrigerated, high acid-sensitive beverage and food market segments, which include beverages such as 100% fruit and vegetable juice and juice drinks, non carbonated soft drinks, ready-to-drink (RTD) teas, flavored waters and functional drinks." Specifically, he cited:
- Hot-Fill is a Proven Technology that is low-risk and requires less capital investment than aseptic filling and avoids the use of preservatives which are rapidly falling out of favor with consumers globally.
- Lightweight Bottle: ThermoShape™ enables food and beverage producers to use existing hot-fill process lines, but with the additional benefit of converting to lighter weight, unbreakable PET packaging – the first Al Ain ThermoShape™ bottle will be more than 30% lighter than a typical PET hot-fill bottle of similar volume.
- Design Freedom: Because ThermoShape™ technology eliminates the need for the vacuum panels and other vacuum-resistant features required by conventional PET hot-fill processes, producers have greater freedom to design attractive, eye-catching packages.
- Load Resistance: Bottles produced and filled using the ThermoShape™ process have slightly positive internal pressure, providing superior vertical load resistance for packaging and distribution.
- Extended Shelf-Life without Deformation: Using Plastipak's patented technology, ThermoShape™ bottles can achieve shelf life of up to 12 months at ambient temperature without bottle deformation due to standard loss of oxygen in the bottle headspace and water loss through bottle PET walls.
Initial production at Al Ain is for a 25-gram, 500-milliliter bottle with a 38-millimeter finish for a juice package. The flexibility of the line will allow for later expansion to produce 250-millimeter and 1-liter bottles. Fasahat Beg, General Manager of Al Ain Water commented that "this investment will enable us to enter value added beverage segments such as sports drinks and juices, while using at least 30% less PET than the existing 'hot fill' bottling lines in the market. This in turn means delivery on both cost and energy savings for the company and further demonstrates our corporate social responsibility commitment of reducing our environmental impact." Commenting further, Agthia CEO, Ilias Assimakopoulos said: "Al Ain Water's investment in the new first class ThermoShape™ technology will enable Agthia to advance further in line with its product diversification strategy . In addition, this investment is an added confirmation of our commitment to continuously deliver innovative high quality products to our customers."
The line was designed, commissioned, and installed by Plastipak, and features globally patented, in-line heat-based reshaping of bottles after they are hot-filled. Delage added "because of its innovative design, the ThermoShape™ system easily fits into a small footprint space, allowing existing glass or plastic hot-fill lines to seamlessly convert to the ThermoShape™ system." Plastipak or its network of approved partners can supply specially-designed bottles or pre-forms, as well as all other necessary consulting services for packaging design and manufacturing thus offering producers a true complete solution for the "sensitive" beverage and food segments.
Plastipak will next exhibit the system at Emballage 2010 in Paris on November 22-25.