Coca-Cola, alongside European bottling partners Coca-Cola HBC and Coca-Cola European Partners, will introduce the technology beginning next year. By the end of 2021, all of Coca-Cola HBC markets will have transitioned to the material; while Coca-Cola European Partners will start its rollout in the Netherlands next year.
AB InBev's UK division has already announced it will adopt the technology in March 2020, ultimately rolling it out to all its products including Budweiser, Stella Artois and Bud Light. Coca-Cola, meanwhile, will be the first in the non-alcoholic RTD industry to use the KeelClip.
Replacing plastic and minimizing cardboard
The recyclable paperboard KeelClip comprises a top board that cans clip into; and a central cardboard ‘keel’ - similar to a ship’s keel - that stabilises the pack.
Coca-Cola says it has worked closely with Graphic Packaging International, the US developer of the KeelClip, to optimize the technology for its products. “This new type of packaging not only replaces the plastic wrap, but also minimizes the amount of paper and card required,” says Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola HBC will remove shrink wrap from all of its can multipacks in EU markets by the end of 2021. It will invest €15m ($16.6m) in KeelClip, beginning the roll-out in Ireland and Poland in early 2020, followed by Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Romania, and then the rest of its markets by the end of 2021. According to Coca-Cola, this will save 2,000 tonnes of plastic and 3,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.
The KeelClip will be used on all can multi-packs of up to eight cans, larger can multi packs will be bound by a carton pack.
Coca-Cola European Partners will roll-out KeelClip in the Netherlands early next year with more markets to follow, investing €14m ($15.5m) in its factory in Dongen, Netherlands, to install a new can line and a KeelClip packaging machine.
Steve Gould, Graphic Packaging International’s new product development and marketing director, beverage division, Europe, said: “The KeelClip technology is effective for can multi-packs of various diameters and heights. This means that we can provide a safe, effective package with no need for secondary plastic. When businesses such Coca-Cola HBC and Coca-Cola European Partners invest in these technologies, we can really make a difference to the way we package goods and drive the industry to continue to change, too.”
Earlier this year, Coca-Cola brands Honest Tea, Glaceau Smartwater and Chaudfontaine mineral water announced they would transition to 100% rPET bottles in Europe next year, replacing 9,000 tonnes of virgin plastic.
Coca-Cola HBC operates across 28 markets: Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Moldova, Montenegro, Nigeria, Northern Macedonia, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia and Ukraine.
Coca-Cola European Partners’ markets are: Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Great Britain, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.