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Bronco Wine Co. Introduces 750ml PET Bottles for Its Leading Wine Brands

Posted on September 29, 2015

Bronco Wine Co., Ceres, Calif., a major supplier of varietal wines, is field testing its leading Green Fin and Hacienda 750ml wine brands in lightweight polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles from Amcor Rigid Plastics, the world’s leading producer of rigid plastic packaging. Bronco Wine, the fourth largest winery in the U.S., is seriously considering a major packaging switch from glass to plastic to capitalize on PET’s sustainability, lightweight, shatter resistance, and potential use in new venues whilefurther enhancing its business in the retail and airline segments.

“We’re thrilled that a leading winery like Bronco Wine is embracing barrier PET bottles as an alternative to glass,” said Jocelyn Cory, Vice President of Marketing for Amcor Rigid Plastics’ Diversified Products Division. “The field testing further expands the use of PET in the 750ml size category and could be a springboard for the rest of the industry.”

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

“The conversion to PET packaging in 750ml will be a game-changing event in the wine industry,” said Fred Franzia, Chief Executive Officer of Bronco Wine Co. “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 750ml PET 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. 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 multi-servings.

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

“Our commitment to environmentally responsible practices is unwavering and this is just the next step,” said Mark Miles, quality manager for Bronco Wine. To meet its sustainability goals, Bronco first worked with eco-friendly glass and is now exploring PET as a highly viable alternative because of its superior environmental benefits. “From the lightweight PET bottle, to the PET label, short aluminum closure, and tray shrink packaging, this is just a great eco-friendly package,” said Miles.

Another key sustainability feature is the use of a 12-count tray and shrink film cover instead of traditional corrugated cardboard cases and partitions. The shrink film packaging is 2.5 times lighter than a standard cardboard case and lowers carbon emissions by 246,771 lb, according to Bronco.

Specifically, the 100% recyclable container 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 the carbon dioxide emissions of 7.8 cars annually, saving enough drinking water for 1604 people, preserving 400 trees, and saving enough electricity for 21 households.

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 not allow 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 750ml PET container an extended shelf life versus a non-barrier PET bottle. KHS Plasmax® Silicon Oxide (SiOx) barrier coating is a glass-like material which 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 100nm) 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 750ml 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, Calif., who filled the 750ml bottles on their on-site mobile bottling line.

Amcor expects continued strong growth for barrier PET wine containers in not only 187ml and 750ml bottles but a range of package sizes.

About Bronco Wine Co.
Bronco Wine Co., based in Ceres, Calif., is committed to growing, producing and selling the finest quality wines of the highest value to its customers. Bronco’s diverse family of brands is sold in over 65 countries worldwide in addition to being distributed throughout the U.S. Bronco Wine Co. has become a major varietal wine source to the California wine industry and is currently recognized as the fourth largest winery in the U.S. The company’s quest for quality begins with vineyard development and continues to grow into areas such as premium bulk wine contracts, research and development, brand development, marketing, and distribution. Bronco is also a major custom bottler for several national wineries. For more information, visit www.broncowine.com.

About Amcor Rigid Plastics
Amcor Rigid Plastics is among the world’s largest manufacturers of rigid plastic packaging for the food, beverage, spirits, personal care, home care, and healthcare industries with 58 facilities in 12 countries. Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Amcor Rigid Plastics is a subsidiary of Amcor Limited.

Amcor Limited is a global leader in responsible packaging solutions, employing more than 28,000 people worldwide, operating in more than 40 countries throughout 180-plus sites. Amcor supplies rigid and flexible packaging solutions to enhance products consumers use in everyday life. Amcor also provides packaging-related services to help customers succeed through collaboration and innovation driven by art and science. Amcor (AMC) is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. For more information, visit www.amcor.com.


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