June 11, 2021

How to Reduce Your Costs with Lightweight Preform Design

Lightweighting your PET preforms and bottles is one way to reduce production costs and hit profitability targets in a relatively short time frame. While this technique has been used as a cost-saving measure for quite some time, approaches to reducing bottle weights are always evolving, and the business case is changing too. For example, in addition to helping reduce your production costs, it can play a key role in helping you achieve your sustainability goals.

To help you decide if lightweighting is right for your needs, this article provides a quick overview of what is involved and how to make the business case.

The Benefits

The concept of lightweighting as a cost-saving measure is fairly straightforward. Any opportunity to reduce the amount of resin used in your PET bottles is an opportunity to lower your production costs.

However, there are many additional benefits:

  1. Helping with your sustainability goals: Every gram of resin saved also helps you reduce your CO2 emissions.
  2. Offsetting other cost increases: Reducing bottle weight can be strategically applied to offset rising production costs due to increased use of recycled PET, which is more expensive than virgin resin.
  3. Differentiation: Some approaches to this weight-reduction process involve new neck and closure designs that can be part of a market differentiation strategy.
  4. Staying future-ready: In many markets around the world, legislation will soon call for the use of tethered closures to meet sustainability requirements. Some approaches to lightweighting make it easier to adapt to these upcoming legislations.

Four proven approaches

There are four basic industry approaches to lightweighting. Each focuses on different components of a PET preform. These methods can be implemented individually, or in combination to achieve greater savings. 

Method 1: Switching to a lightweight version of your existing neck and closure system

For example, if you are using the PCO 1881 neck finish, you can save on resin by converting to the newest lightweight version of this neck. In this case, the basic design remains the same, but small modifications reduce the amount of resin required for each unit.

Method 2: Switching to a new, lightweight neck and closure design

This approach delivers greater resin savings when compared to switching to a lightweight version of your existing neck finish. For example, depending on your application, you can switch from PCO 1881 to the 26/22 GME 30.37 neck finish, which saves approximately 1.88g of resin per unit between the neck finish and closure.

Method 3: Redesigning the bottle’s body to use less resin

This can be accomplished by altering the preform design with thinner walls and other design changes to the body itself.

Method 4: Redesigning the base of the bottle to use less resin

For example, Husky offers the EcoBase preform design that can reduce resin use in the bottle’s base by up to 2.5 percent.

The Business Case

Even when considering the variability in resin prices over the past several months, the economics of lightweighting make a compelling business case, both in the short term and long term.

To illustrate the potential savings from bottle weight reduction, we will explore the real-world example of a brand that converts to a lightweight 26/22 GME 30.37 neck finish and closure for a carbonated soft drink. The current PET preform uses the PCO 1881 neck finish.

Assuming this producer manufactures a yearly volume of 12,000,000,000 units and uses 100% virgin resin, here are the potential resin and costs savings from going lightweight:

  • Resin savings: 1.88g/bottle
  • Total resin savings: 22,560 metric tons/year
  • Cost savings: US $26.6 million/year
  • Carbon emissions savings: 57,377 metric tons/year

As you can see from the numbers, this is a promising business case so far. To complete the process, you must factor in the total costs of switching to the lightweight preform design. Typically, this would include the cost of the mold components and any line components, which would vary depending on the choice of new lightweight neck finish, the preform system itself, who is carrying out the mold switchover and how long it takes.

Keys to success

To maximize the savings with a lightweighting initiative, there are a few key factors to consider.

  • Consumer experience: Any proposed design changes must be considered first and foremost from the standpoint of the consumer, ensuring a consistently positive experience and brand interaction.
  • Performance: With any weight reduction initiative, it is important to look holistically at the overall preform weight balance and preform design in order to maintain uncompromised package performance.
  • Quality and precision: Regardless of the lightweighting method you choose, precision is essential for success. As you remove resin from your preform designs, consistency and accuracy in the production process become increasingly important; otherwise, increased defects and waste will offset your potential savings. You must be sure that your system and molds are properly equipped to handle lightweight designs.
  • Working with an experienced provider: Any change to your production process introduces risk. With margins already tight this year, and little tolerance for downtime, it is important that the changeover process is done right, and with consideration given to the potential impact on your entire production process. An experienced provider understands the big picture and helps minimize all of that risk. In general, you want to work with a provider who has the experience to carry out the switchover quickly, accurately and reliably in order to achieve the savings as soon as possible and avoid costly production delays. For example, with Husky, the lightweighting process can be completed as soon as six to nine weeks depending on the scope. And depending on your current system and provider, reducing product weight can often result in a positive contribution to the bottom line within a fiscal year.

Find out how much you could save through bottle weight reduction 

Husky has a great track record of helping our customers lower production costs through lightweighting a PET preform design.

We developed a proprietary tool that helps you instantly estimate how much you could save by switching to a lightweight neck and closure system.

Give it a try and see how much you can save: Husky Lightweight Savings Calculator

If you have any questions, feel free to add them in the comments.

Many of our customers are reducing their production costs by “lightweighting” their CSD preforms and bottles. To help you decide if part weight reduction is right for your needs, this article provides a quick overview of what is involved and how to make the business case.

See how Husky beverage packaging and weight reduction expertise can help lower your manufacturing costs.