Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) Collaborates with Petainer to Develop 'Universal refPET Bottle'

Coca Cola Universal refPET Bottle

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) asked Petainer to jointly develop a new “Universal refPET Bottle” for the German market as part of the strategy to further streamline the refillable PET business. Rolling out in June, the Universal Bottle will support CCEP to grow its refillable offering by simplifying the refillable bottling and increasing the production capacity of 1 L refillable plastic bottles.

Project Lead for Petainer, Dr Michael Joyes, explains the concept of a Universal Bottle. “Traditional refillable systems, as seen in South America and Germany, operate in a simple loop. Bottles are manufactured, sent to the filler to process and out to the market. Once the customer has consumed the beverage, they return the bottle to a designated point and reclaim a small deposit placed on the bottle. The final step is the bottle being returned to CCEP to be washed and refilled. In being reused, emissions related to the manufacture and delivery of a new bottle are removed from the carbon chain.

Empty Universal refPET Bottles

“A Universal Bottle does not change this core process, but steps in where there are multiple filling sites. In simple terms, a Universal Bottle is one that is designed to be filled with any beverage in CCEP’s brand portfolio. CCEP’s portfolio of 1 L refPET was previously bottled in two key designs, the first for Coca-Cola brand products, and the second design for flavours like Fanta, Sprite & mezzo mix.”

Recovering multiple bottle designs to fill from deposit points requires additional sorting before bottles can be sent for processing along with bottles of their same bottle shape. Having different bottle shapes and multiple filling sites can cause an imbalance of the number of bottles of the same brand available, depending on what locality they were returned. A Universal bottle, returned anywhere in the market, or even cross borders, can be taken to the most local filling plant and processed there.

Filled Universal Refpet Bottles

The brief from CCEP was to develop a market leading bottle, that could be used across its existing filling sites with minimal adaptations to filling and inspection equipment, whilst keeping Coca-Cola’s iconic contour bottle shape. The change of the bottle design is particularly significant for CCEP in Germany as it’s the first time that the design of this high-volume home market packaging has changed since its introduction about 30 years ago.  The changeover may take several years.

The new Universal Bottle design retains a BPF neck and the dimensions remain similar, so that it can move through existing bottle capture and washing infrastructure. Coca-Cola and Petainer were pleased with the lab testing and how the bottle worked on existing filling lines across Germany with a high speed of fill of 36,000 bottles per hour. The brand unifying text of ‘The Coca-Cola Family’ has been debossed into the bottle with the joint benefits of reducing scuffs on the base where the bottle contact points sit, whilst also retaining the branding in case of scuffing in the reuse system.

Packaged Universal refPET Bottles
Coca Cola Labelled Universal refPET Bottles

"We’re delighted to support Coca-Cola in the transition to a Universal Bottle design. We’re committed to a ‘right first time’ mentality, which is why we have invested in our facilities to manufacture world-beating PET refillable bottle products. Our role, making each bottle hard wearing and functional, provides end users the best possible consumption experience and confidence in refillable bottles. Giving customers the choice to choose a more sustainable option is at the heart of Petainer’s philosophy.”

Hugh Ross, CEO Petainer