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    High-quality wines in PET bottles – a sustainable solution

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    A wine bottle that is not only sustainable but also ideally suited for shipping: Cornelia Braun addressed that challenge in her bachelor’s thesis, which she wrote at Krones. She discovered great potential in PET – a material for which she provided a modern Bordeaux bottle design right along with her thesis.

    Wine has been sold in glass bottles since the 17th century. While the first of them were still black, more colours like green and brown have been added over time. And several different bottle shapes have also been created. The various designs in common use today frequently denote the region where a wine is grown or the type of wine the bottle contains. Typical examples include the Franconian Bocksbeutel, the Burgundy and hock bottles as well as the best-known and most used bottle shape: the Bordeaux bottle.

    While working on her bachelor’s thesis at Krones, Cornelia Braun, a student at Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences, examined the question of how the transport of wine bottles can be rendered more sustainable and more efficient. Her answer is: Use PET. Mario Casper, who has specialised in PET container design at Krones and mentored Cornelia Braun while she wrote her bachelor’s thesis, describes the current market situation as follows: “While this idea is in Germany still viewed with a certain degree of skepticism, it has meanwhile become common practice in other countries like France, Spain and Italy where supermarkets are already offering wine in PET bottles.”

    Sustainable packaging solution

    “PET offers several advantages over traditional glass bottles. One of them is the fact that less energy is needed to produce PET bottles, and another one their lower weight. A 0.75-litre glass bottle usually weighs at least 500 grams. So the use of PET can reduce the weight of primary packaging by up to 90 per cent. “And such savings also have a considerable effect on a company’s carbon footprint,” explains Cornelia Braun. “What’s more, it is possible to send a significantly larger number of PET preforms than empty glass bottles to the bottler in one delivery, which means less shipments are needed.”

    And PET is also a material ideally suited for recycling. “That was why development work was focused not only on the bottle as such but also on the capsule and the label. If one and the same material were to be used for all bottle components, that would simplify the recycling process even more,” says Mario Casper.

    But PET offers advantages not only in regard to sustainability and closing the plastics loop. For safety reasons, glass containers are not permitted during air travel and at many events. So unbreakability is yet another one of its positive aspects.

    Traditional bottle design-enhanced

    The design of the Bordeaux bottle made of PET provides for three different sizes, for a content of 750, 500 or 200 millilitres. It is reminiscent of the traditional wine bottle made of glass but a crystalline pattern gives it quite a different visual appeal.

    The new design also features a concave base (punt), just like the traditional Bordeaux bottles. That shape has proven its worth ever since it was developed: When wine is stored, tannins and colorants polymerise over time, resulting in a sediment (or deposit) which can be detected in the liquid either as solid or turbid matter. The indentation in the bottle’s base produces a groove where such matter can settle, so it is not swirling around in the wine when it is poured.

    Prize-winning design

    Cornelia Braun was awarded the 2023 Prize of the Association of German Engineers (VDI) for the design she developed. What particularly impressed the jury was the technical and design-related solution she found in answer to the multi-facetted challenges involved, not least the consummate combination of high-quality wine with a container material that seems a bit unusual at first glance.

    Image 38784
    Claudia at the prize-giving ceremony Cornelia Braun was awarded the Prize of the Association of German Engineers for her Bordeaux bottle design.

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