Coca-Cola HBC has opened a new high-speed returnable glass bottling line (RGB) at its plant in Edelstal, Austria, according to the company.
The milestone €12 million investment from Coca-Cola HBC was supported by a €4 million grant from the Austrian government as part of its fund for beverage companies and retailers to enable a true circular economy for packaging.
The new line, which is more water and energy-efficient, will produce an innovative 400ml resealable and returnable glass bottle for the Austrian market. This is a first across Coca-Cola HBC’s 29 markets and is aimed at the on-the-go market and at-home consumption.
The investment is part of Coca-Cola HBC’s plan to achieve net zero emissions across its entire value chain by 2040. The new investment in the Edelstal site also supports Coca-Cola HBC’s net zero goals in that the new line is more energy efficient. The site was also the first globally to have a ‘Digital Twin’ made of its production line, made and tested by Microsoft. The ‘Digital Twin’ creates an accurate digital model of a processing system to ensure that it runs as efficiently as possible. In just 12 weeks of the trial, there has been no downtime, and the plant reduced energy usage by 9%.
The company has already reduced Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 30% in the last twelve years. As packaging accounts for 34% of Scope 3 emissions in Coca-Cola HBC’s total supply chain, it is a key component of the company’s carbon emissions reduction pathway.
New Returnable Glass Bottle Line Significantly Expands Range of Returnable Products
The new line significantly expands the range of returnable products in the Coca-Cola HBC portfolio to include Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar in a 400ml glass bottle for at-home and on-the-go consumption.
Consumers can also buy Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Fanta Orange and Sprite in 1-litre returnable glass bottles. The universal 1-litre bottle design for different sparkling soft drink brands helps simplify production and logistics and reduces the sorting and reverse logistics in the market.
This expansion of returnable packaging is in response to growing consumer demand for returnable packaging solutions in Austria, where 62% of consumers value sustainability when they are selecting products. *
Expanding this packaging type also helps customers meet quotas for returnable packaging in retail, which are due to be introduced by 2024.
Coca-Cola HBC Austria is a first mover when it comes to expanding reusable packaging and minimizing plastic across Coca-Cola HBC’s markets. Other developments include the following:
- Piloting Compact Freestyle® drinks dispensing machines. These offer consumers packaging-free options of 40 beverage choices with up to 70% less emissions compared to PET**.
- Austria is one of the first Coca-Cola HBC markets to transition to 100% recycled PET bottles for products produced locally for sale in Austria. It has also introduced KeelClipTM, a solution that replaces shrink wrap packaging with cardboard for multipack cans.
KeelClipTM is now live in all 22 EU markets, saving approximately 2,600 tonnes of plastic from our supply chain in 2022. Coca-Cola HBC is also piloting other innovations aimed at removing plastic film.
“For some years now, Coca-Cola HBC Austria has been at the forefront of pioneering new sustainable solutions, and we’re delighted that our focus on investment, innovation and partnerships are helping us to meet our goal of delivering our drinks in more sustainable ways,” said Zoran Bogdanovic, COCA-COLA HBC CEO.
“Austria is already one of our fastest-growing markets for reusable packaging and this new line will further accelerate this packaging type, which is in demand by our customers and consumers alike. As returnable packaging options offer a reduced carbon footprint, this new line in Austria further supports our Net Zero by 2040 goal.
“We’re grateful for the partnership with the Austrian Government as we work together towards a common goal of a greener business model and a better environment.”