Bronco Wine field-tests 750-mL PET bottle

Bronco Wine tests a 750-mL PET bottle for its Green Fin and Hacienda brands, making the switch from glass to PET for greater consumer convenience and sustainability advantages.

Bronco Wine Co. of Ceres, CA, a major supplier of varietal wines, is field testing its Green Fin and Hacienda 750-mL wine brands in PET bottles from Amcor Rigid Plastics.

Bronco Wine Co. of Ceres, CA, a major supplier of varietal wines, is field testing its Green Fin and Hacienda 750-mL wine brands in PET bottles from Amcor Rigid Plastics. Bronco Wine, the fourth-largest winery in the U.S., is considering a major packaging switch from glass to plastic to capitalize on PET’s sustainability, light weight, shatter-resistance, and potential use in new venues, while further enhancing its business in the retail and airline segments.

According to Amcor, Bronco Wine’s field-testing of the 750-mL PET bottles is a significant development in the wine industry, because it represents a major glass-to-plastic 750-mL conversion by a major wine producer. Bronco has previously had strong commercial success with PET in a 187-mL size.

“The conversion to PET packaging in 750 mL will be a game-changing event in the wine industry,” says Fred Franzia, CEO of Bronco Wine. “The use of lightweight PET and other associated eco-friendly packaging features takes us to the next level in terms of sustainability and further expands the Green Fin brand potential.”

Bronco Wine’s Green Fin organic wine in 750-mL wine bottles is being field-tested exclusively through Trader Joe’s retail stores throughout the U.S. The plastic bottles are also used to package the Hacienda brand for airline first-class passenger service. The U.S. airlines have adopted PET for its sustainability benefits, resulting in reduced fuel consumption and a cost savings, along with its easy use and the ability to reclose and provide multiple servings.

Notes Amcor, among the key sustainability benefits are the PET bottle’s 100% recyclability and the use of a PET label instead of paper, which eliminates contamination in the recycling stream. The PET bottles are approximately one-sixth the weight of standard glass bottles. A short-skirt, roll-on pilfer-proof (ROPP) aluminum closure was designed for Bronco Wine so that key sustainability and recycling goals could be met. The closure is recyclable, removes completely from the PET bottle, and is just 21-mm long compared to the standard 60-mm length. Another Amcor division, Amcor Flexibles, played a key role in the development of the aluminum closure.

Among the bottle’s sustainability benefits, it reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 47%, cuts water use by 90%, lowers energy use by 43%, and reduces solid waste by 62%. The reduced carbon footprint is equivalent to eliminating thecarbon dioxide emissions of 7.8 cars annually, saving enough drinking water for 1,604 people, preserving 400 trees, and saving enough electricity for 21 households.

Bronco Wine is also using a 12-count tray and shrink-film cover instead of a corrugated case and partitions. The shrink-film packaging is 2.5-times lighter than a standard cardboard case and lowers carbon emissions by nearly 247,000 lb, according to Bronco.

“Our commitment to environmentally responsible practices is unwavering, and this is just the next step,” says Bronco Wine Quality Manager Mark Miles. “From the lightweight PET bottle to the PET label, short aluminum closure, and tray-shrink packaging, this is just a great eco-friendly package.”

Consumers have embraced PET because of its convenience along with the great look and feel, according to Bronco. The PET bottle’s portability provides an entry into venues that do notallow glass because of the potential for breakage. In addition, consumers are impressed with the glass-like appearance and the high quality of the packaging.A unique barrier coating technology developed by Germany’s KHS Plasmax GmbH affords the 750-mL PET container an extended shelf life versus a non-barrier PET bottle.

KHS Plasmax®Silicon Oxide (SiOx) barrier coating is a glass-like material that seals the container from the inside to protect the contents from oxidation. Plasmax is an FDA-compliant enhanced passive barrier for oxygen-sensitive products. This ultrathin (less than 100-nm) material is transparent and resists cracking, abrasion, and delamination. Moreover, it doesn’t degrade over time nor limit the storage time for empty bottles. The barrier coating is easily removed during the recycling process and does not contaminate the recycling system, thus providing Bronco a fully recyclable container.

During an 18-month evaluation, Bronco conducted an analytical study and various tests to validate the color, taste, and overall quality of the wine in 750-mL PET containers. Miles said PET met stringent requirements in protecting the wine and maintaining its stability and presentation over time. John Allbaugh, Bronco’s director of wine making, ultimately approved the container and certification was received from the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). The eco-friendly package was also approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

Bronco’s glass-to-plastic conversion project received strong support from Halsey Bottling LLC, Napa, CA, which filled the 750-mL bottles on their on-site mobile bottling line.

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