A light closure saves a weighty resource

Not consuming something is the most sustainable way to save it. For example, efficient use of materials in production makes an important contribution to conserving natural resources and relieving the environment, as well as to enhancing the  profitability of production processes. According to the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, expenditure for material in Germany comprises by far the largest cost pool of the manufacturing and processing industries, at around 40 percent. The situation is similar in other countries.

Resource efficiency is one of the key issues in the worldwide sustainability  debate. An example shows the impressive effect just a few tenths of a  millimeter of thin steel sheeting can have. The three closure manufacturers Pelliconi, Packaging Products del Perú, and Coleus produce crown corks for SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewery group. The latter’s characteristic bottle tops are up to 0.07 millimeters thinner and 0.3 grams lighter than standard crown corks. The enormous potential for conserving material and cutting costs is apparent alone from the number of serrated bottle caps  SABMiller needs each year for its bottles: 42 billion. With the lighter crown  corks, the British-South African company consumes about ten percent, or  10,000 tons, less steel. That is as much as the volume of material used to build the new Wembley Stadium. The equivalent value: almost € 10 million.

No light crown corks without special sealant

This potential prompted other beverage companies to take action. In the future, a few soft drink manufacturers intend to use the light bottle tops too,  and more will surely follow. But the innovative step was not as easy as it  sounds. Similar to metal vacuum twist-off tops for jars, the thickness of the metal of crown corks can only be reduced with the help of special sealants. “The sealant has to take over some of the properties of the metal,” says Wilfried Lassek, Managing Director of ACTEGA DS in Bremen. “This can only be achieved with an extremely flexible and soft plastic.” ACTEGA is an expert in meeting such special requirements. The sealant SVELON 830 LG for lighter crown corks, which weighs only 175 milligrams, is comparable with PROVALIN. It also consists of so-called thermoplastic elastomers, is free of PVCs and  plasticizers, and is delivered to closure manufacturers in granulate form.

Today, ACTEGA DS sells sealant material in over 100 countries worldwide; more than every second crown cork used in the U.S. is equipped with high-tech plastic from Bremen. Every day, five to six truckloads of granulate are produced which has to be melted down by the closure manufacturers before processing. One truckload suffices for the bottles in 6,000 fully loaded beverage delivery vehicles. This success story required close cooperation between all of the companies involved. “It took almost two years to develop the new sealant. Without the excellent cooperation with the three closure manufacturers and with SABMiller, this would have been extremely difficult,” says Wilfried Lassek. “But as we talk about new developments and possible cooperation with nearly all of our clients during sales negotiations, we are able to implement new ideas in concrete projects and products.”

Chemical products that have only slight effects on the environment and can be used safely have competitive advantages and hence good sales opportunities on the market. At ALTANA and with our clients, such products make a key contribution to corporate sustainability. Central issues of our product responsibility are resource and energy efficiency, emissions of volatile substances (VOCs), as well as the safety and health of our clients and staff.