This could be the beginning of another new chapter in the story of PET packaging. BottleOne in Atlanta, GA, thinks technology that it has developed could lead to large HDPE bottles being replaced by higher performance versions in PET with fully integral handles. SIPA is helping it, with equipment to make the special preforms and to blow the beautiful bottles. SIPA is currently developing several new unit cavity preforms.
The development of the PET bottle with an integral PET handle – which is also called BottleOne - took nearly a decade. It is protected by multiple patents. The initial patent has been approved in eight countries and is now pending in over 20 countries.
For decades, designers and packaging makers have been trying to figure out how to create a cost-effective, one-piece, PET bottle with a handle for mass production. After 55 years of HDPE gallon and half-gallon jugs, it’s here.
BottleOne PET bottles are made by first injection molding the special preforms which can be provided on the SIPA XFORM system, and then stretch-blowing the preforms on a SIPA SFL linear unit. Since the handles are an integral part of the preforms, no ancillary equipment is required to apply or attach the handle, although the technology incorporated into the preform heating ovens and the bottle molds is particularly sophisticated. The handle itself has a unique two-point attachment, which provides for extra strength and durability.
For bottle producers, fillers, and consumers, PET provides numerous advantages in terms of sustainability over HDPE. For example, machine output is far higher, at up to 5000 bottles per hour per cavity, so less equipment is needed. This helps bring down energy consumption by as much as 40%.
Size-for-size, a handled PET bottle is lighter than an HDPE one, even though HDPE is less dense, because PET is inherently mechanically superior and so wall thicknesses are much lower. Full PET bottles are much less likely to fracture when dropped, too. Obviously, PET bottles are much more attractive, since the material can be made crystal clear.
Independent top load strength tests have shown that BottleOne was far superior to HDPE bottles in a side-by-side evaluation of one gallon bottles. Virginia Tech has validated BottleOne to have a higher retention of riboflavin (flavor), vitamins, and dissolved oxygen (potential for longer primary shelf life).
“The extraordinary strength and durability of BottleOne containers can be leveraged to stack more, and higher,” says BottleOne. “One user went from four layers on a pallet to five layers on a pallet, and stacks of two pallets in the same space formerly used for one pallet of HDPE bottles.”
Extrusion blow molding with HDPE does make it easier to incorporate handles into larger bottles, but for many years now, SIPA has been providing numerous options to incorporate grips and handles into medium-sized and large PET containers. Now, with the technology developed by BottleOne, the options have increased, and the advantages of PET are even more striking.
BottleOne bottles are 100% PET, and so making them extra-easy to recycle without contaminating the waste stream. With the SIPA equipment and the use of latest recycling technologies, it is even possible to make the bottles out of 100% post-consumer recycled PET, rPET.
BottleOne provides a royalty free license for the technology to make PET bottles with integral handles. Preforms are supplied through the BottleOne system which utilizes SIPA technology: preform tooling (the company has the second-largest tool shop in the world) and highly energy-efficient XFORM Gen 4 preform production systems.
SIPA can supply licensees (as well as producers of other types of handled containers, obviously) with packaging design and development, and best-in-class SFL EVO linear stretch-blow molding systems that can produce bottles up to 5L in volume.
BottleOne production technology holds numerous cost-saving benefits for bottle makers. The overall process is simplified, for example, since there are no separate steps for producing and inserting separate handles. Using SIPA equipment for making preforms and bottles, processors gain all the advantages derived from a one-stop shop – not just the machines and molds, but also design, development and prototyping services.
PET bottles with integral PET handles present brand owners with new ergonomics and new opportunities. BottleOne bottles have been designed so that they are very easy to pour, for example. They look great, improving the marketability of the product. And they can be used for many types of liquid: milk is probably the most obvious one, especially in the USA, where until now HDPE has been virtually the only game in town. Then there are edible oils, all sorts of juices, and then in the non-food sector the long list of possibilities includes fabric softeners, detergents, all sorts of home care products, and many more.