Case histories


Leading the way in label-free bottles

Portuguese mineral water supplier Água Monchique has taken a lead in producing PET bottles that are easier to recycle than ever. With the help of PET processing equipment specialist SIPA, it has developed label-free bottles. This means that the only part of the complete package not in PET is the PP cap, which remains attached to the bottle after opening in accordance with EU legislation, but which is very easy to remove in recycling operations. Not only that: the bottles are produced in 100% post-consumer recycled material, rPET.

The new bottles need no label because all the information the customer needs is integrated directly into the bottle wall by embossing during the molding process.

SIPA provided various aspects of support to Água Monchique, which produces the 555-mL bottles on SIPA’s XTRA 8 advanced rotary stretch-blow molding system. SIPA’s input goes even further: the XTRA 8 is in what SIPA calls a Sincrobloc configuration, meaning that it is directly integrated with the filler, SIPA’s Flextronic S 8/50/10.

The project took life last September during the Drinktec fair in Munich, when top executives from Água Monchique went onto the SIPA stand to meet the design team. While they were looking at one particular innovation, a prototype PET bottle for sparkling wine created by SIPA, the idea came up for another innovation, a label-free bottle for water.

“The idea came up spontaneously, with the SIPA design team proposing the concept, as well as the idea for upsizing (from the 500mL format), in contrast to the downsizing that is generally practiced today,” saysSIPA'sSales Area Manager “A 555-mL bottle gets to be positioned higher on supermarket shelves than 600- or 750-mL sizes, so it will have more visibility.” The customer liked the idea and appreciates SIPA’s increasing offer of packaging solutions and its full range of technologies for preform and containers production.

Água Monchique has for a long time paid considerable attention to the sustainability of its operations and its products. Its strong innovative spirit had already led it to develop a 720-ml bottle in 100% rPET.

The new project, called Monchique Natura, takes the company another important step down the road to ultimate sustainability: its goal is to be carbon-neutral by 2030. The new bottle is not only label-free and totally made in rPET, but also very light, weighing just 19 g. The bottles will be sold individually and in six-pack cardboard containers that sport the FCS mark (FCS is the Forest Stewardship Council), indicating that they are made from 100% recycled materials.

"This is a bottle completely produced from other bottles, in which we replace the use of labels with fingerprints on the plastic itself, minimizing the impact of this activity on the environment and proceeding with a strategy focused on promoting a true circular economy,” says Vítor Hugo Gonçalves, CEO of Água Monchique.

Monchique Natura is the first portuguese bottle and one of the first in the world to appear on shop shelves without labels. It will go on sale in the third quarter of the year.

Monchique Natura will join a group of other solutions that Água Monchique has introduced in what Gonçalves calls “the relentless search for best practices to make our business model more sustainable and more in line with circular economy models. Sustainability will remain at the forefront of our actions and Monchique Water will deliver on its promise to contribute to the betterment of the current generation, as well as generations to come."

SIPA has collaborated on other Água Monchique projects in the past. The Portuguese company already uses SIPA’s two production systems to make bottles in seven different formats. The “regular” Monchique range is available in five sizes, from 340mL through to 5L, all with simple and attractive designs. An XTRA 8 produces the smaller sizes, while an SFL 6/4 XL, operating in a Sincro set-up with a Bigfill volumetric gravity filler, is used for the 5L bottles. The 5L bottles in particular stand out for their low weight: they have been validated at 66 and 64g, which is close to 10g lighter than the norm in Portugal.