Sand exists in great abundance, but it must be heated to above 1500°C to make glass. Such high temperatures require a lot of energy, so we looked for ways to reduce our energy consumption for more responsible production.
One way to reduce the energy required is by adding recycled glass, also called “cullet”, to the mix. The cullet glass melts at the same temperature, but requires less energy to do so. For coloured containers, glass manufacturers add up to 80% of cullet. For clear glass, also known as flint glass, the percentage may vary from 15% up to a maximum of 50%.
Another way to increase environmental sustainability is to use less glass. Glass weight reduction is a challenging process. When the container is lightened, it must still retain the same strength and resistance to breakage across the whole supply chain. This starts from the glass manufacturer to our factories where the jars are filled, to the retailer, and then finally to the consumer.
To reduce our glass usage and therefore our energy requirements, we needed to make our glass jars better by design. By working closely with glass manufacturers and mould makers, we are able to find ways to reduce the weight of our jars while ensuring they retain all their positive qualities.
We save weight by carefully optimizing the repartition of the glass within the jar. We replace sharp angles with smooth ones. And we improve the precision of uniform distribution in each individual jar. We also use a percentage of recycled glass to reduce the energy required to form the jars.
Then it is off to testing to see if our new design holds up. We perform real life trials where full pallets of NESCAFÉ jars are sent over from our factories to the retailers. We then record the results and give this feedback to the jar manufacturers who work on continual improvement to achieve a product that fulfils all our requirements and expectations.
Not only were we able to improve glass designs, we were also able to streamline the design of the plastic cap. The lighter the cap, the more precise must be its manufacturing parameters. If the fit is less than perfect, it could lead either to the jar being almost impossible to open or, on the contrary, to the lid coming off on its own. By using technology to increase the precision of the design, NESCAFÉ managed to reduce the weight of the cap significantly.
A few reasons why we love glass:
- It is a “natural” material that is composed mainly of sand.
- It’s aesthetically pleasing and can be made into whatever shape or design is required.
- Glass containers are safe, tamper-resistant, inert, non-porous and impermeable to chemical interactions.
- Glass containers protect products from degradation caused by moisture and oxygen. Properly sealed, they ensure the freshness, taste and quality of products over a very long time.
We are proud to say our jar redesign has been a success. Alone in Japan from 2004 to 2008, we were able to save a total of 7672 tonnes of glass thanks to improvements in three different NESCAFÉ jar designs. This represents a reduction of 6000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of what would be produced by 1300 cars in the course of a year. The 200,000 m3 of water also saved is enough to supply 3000 people for a year.
We were also able to save 252 tonnes of plastic. This represents a reduction of 1000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission, as well as a saving of 20,000 gigajoules of energy and 20,000 m3 of water.
We endeavor to continue to find more responsible ways to make packaging.