According to Don, it is now mandatory for imports coming into the Liquor Board of Ontario warehouse to be unpalletized, for this very reason. LBO palletizes incoming product onto its proprietary green LBO pallets for distribution through its system. At Containerworld, some of the pallets and plastic slip sheets generate a little revenue, Dan noted, but not much in consideration of the pain.
One thing that leaps out at a visitor to the LDB warehouse in Vancouver is the high percentage of CPC pallets. While a grocery warehouse in the Vancouver area might have perhaps 30% CPC pallets vis a vis CHEP pallets, the percentage of CPC pallets in the LDB warehouse is very high. “CPC is the standard pallet, commented Dan. “LDB drives the standard, and it isn’t a problem.
In recent years, one challenge facing LDB has been the loss of valuable CPC pallets at private outlets. As the sole supplier of imported products to private outlets, LDB saw losses of its CPC pallets increasingly become an issue in the last several years after the distribution was expanded from government liquor stores only to include a large number of private outlets. With this in mind, LDB has been purchasing white pallets for shipping orders to these outlets, in order to prevent loss of CPC pallets.
In the area of transport packaging, one area of interest on the part of LDB has been to reduce case weight to below 42 lbs., with an eye to improving ergonomics for its materials handlers. With this in mind, Vincor has been working towards introducing lighter weight bottles. With any changes to the unit load, however, there are often other repercussions to consider, and this has been true for Vincor as well. “With light weighted glass, slight imperfection can cause breakage,” Jeff said of some of the challenges associated with the switch. Light weighted glass has forced Vincor to fine tune its bottling operation, as well as using heavier cardboard to cushion the bottles.
The British Columbia market has been less receptive to other innovations such as plastic bottles and tetra containers, according to Don, although other packaging approaches such as screw caps and bag in a box have eventually found some degree of acceptance.
The wine supply chain, like other industries, is also working hard to reduce its carbon footprint. For example, initiatives such as energy efficient lighting, hybrid transport vehicles, and increased recycling have been pursued by members of this group.
For me, the big takeaway from this session is that collaboration among trading partners can help improve supply chain efficiencies, and through attention in particular to collaboration on pallet management, a successful pallet program can be realized.
Primary Packaging Offers Entrepreneurial Opportunities
While 99% of the wine market continues to support glass bottles, alternative approaches are growing in importance. It just may be that an industry that is coming to reluctantly accept the screw cap may come to accept other materials as well. Such options might include Tetra Prisma, which produces a much higher product to packaging weight ratio (93:7) versus 60:40 for glass bottles. In other words, a shipper can significantly reduce freight cost by eliminating the glass, shipping much more product per load. And on the inbound side of the equation, 26 loads of bottles must be delivered to the winery to packaging the same amount of wine as a single truckload of tetra prism packaging.
“I don’t want to knock the other packaging materials,” said Mike Kirk, California Natural Products, a Tetra packaging supplier, who spoke at a wine packaging roundtable at PACK EXPO in Chicago. “There is, however, a need for something different. There is a convenience factor. On a boat, or camping, for example, people don’t want the corkscrew.”
And while glass is more readily recyclable than other materials, the reality, according to one non-glass supplier, is that only 30% of wine bottles are actually recycled. Tetra recycling, however, is not without its own challenges. The debate about which container is “greener” continues.
Another approach to packaging is the plastic bottle. EnVino is a pioneer in this sector. It commenced producing 187 ml bottles for airlines after 911, but now produces 750 ml bottles as well as its own line of 750 ml wine in plastic bottles. Patrick Field of EnVino stresses that plastic bottles can be run on a traditional screw cap bottling line, and that the plastic bottle ranks high on the Walmart scorecard.
Yet another approach to sustainability has been the wine bottle reuse program instituted by Wine Bottle Renew. With its new 92,000 square foot facility in Stockton, California, the company’s approach is to provide washing and label removal of wine bottles to promote reuse. The company indicates that only 30% of wine bottles are recycled. Through relationships with wineries and material recycling facilities, the company will promote the reuse of wine bottles in California and Oregon.