Case Study - Famous Grouse

01 Dec 2012

Edrington, the company behind quality brands such as The Famous Grouse, The Macallan and Highland Park, is acutely aware of its responsibilities to the environment. It is an active participant in the Scotch Whisky Association's ambitious drive to reduce the impact of packaging on the environment.

Edrington has already achieved its ambition of reducing the average weight of The Famous Grouse packaging by 10%. It has re-written the rules of glass design to produce a bottle setting new standards for environmental improvement in the Scotch Whisky industry.

Its goal was to make, fill and successfully ship a bottle with all the existing features of a premium design, including embossing and label protection at a much lower weight than was thought possible.

This project was an extension of Edrington's continuous improvement programme. The Famous Grouse pack had already been engineered to just 395 grams, while continuing to present the correct quality image and survive the rigours of the supply chain. This weight was less than almost all premium competitors. Until now the industry believed this was the minimum weight for a bottle which requires to be orientated by 'mechanical spotting', ensuring the label always faces the front.

Working with Zero Waste Scotland and O-I, a key bottle supplier, Edrington agreed a new target weight of 340 grams. This was a substantial reduction of 14% on top of the lightweighting. The design retained the existing diameter, allowing expensive line changeparts to be retained but was reduced in height by 7mm. The 14% weight reduction leads to around the same reduction in CO2 in percentage terms. In general, a 395g bottle would produce 0.229kg CO2e per bottle, while a 340g bottle would create 0.197kg CO2e per bottle.

The bottle was trialled twice at the O-I Glass manufacturing site in Alloa and the new glass wall thickness passed all strength and impact tests with flying colours. Samples were filled by Edrington on the fastest bottling line for Scotch Whisky, running at up to 600 bottles per minute. Bottles were packed in lightweight cases and shipped through the UK and to Taiwan and the Nordics. It was a stern test for the bottle, but it ran successfully through all of the processes without any hitches or breakages.

The lightweight, wraparound outer case contains over 70% post-consumer recyclate and all case material is FSC accredited.

Edrington is initially rolling-out the new lightweight container across all The Famous Grouse production of 70 cl and litre packages for the UK market. This amounts to around 11 million containers in the first year and a weight reduction of around 600 tonnes. Assuming the pack continues to meet all performance requirements, Edrington will widen the scope of this far-sighted initiative in pursuit of its ambitious sustainability goals.