Our “corner-cut cartons” were developed by Institute for Packaging Innovation and introduced in 2004. The beveled corners have reduced the weight of the carton and, because the carton has eight sides, making it stronger, the cardboard thickness has been reduced, resulting in a 10.9% reduction in the weight of the carton compared to conventional cartons.
The smart-cut carton, which we introduced in 2015, is based on the corner-cut carton technology. In addition to the reduction in weight, the corners of the long edges at the top of the carton have been cut to fit the space created by the lids of the 204-diameter can, which are smaller than the rest of the can. This has resulted in a 16% weight reduction compared to the corner-cut carton.
Institute for Packaging Innovation developed the smart-cut carton in conjunction with a container and packaging manufacturer, with whom the Laboratories have obtained a joint design registration.
Innovations have been incorporated into various parts of the 6-can pack to make it more lightweight, as well as achieving ease of carrying and removing from the shelf. For example, a new cut-out section has been included at the sides of the pack to match the can edge (Kirin patent), and a “can bottom lock structure” is used to stabilize the bottoms of the can with paper. These innovations have resulted in a reduction in packaging material of 4 grams, or 8%, per 500-ml 6-can pack, while also improving the pack’s can-holding power
At Kirin Brewery, by reducing the diameter of the can ends and narrowing the top and bottom edges of the can body to reduce the weight of the can, as well as thinning out the walls of the can body, for our 350-ml aluminum cans, the current 204-diameter can end has achieved a weight reduction of approximately 29% compared to the old 209-diameter can end. This means an annual saving in aluminum resources* of approximately 19,000 tonnes. (*Kirin data from 2015 production volumes)
Further, working with can manufacturers, we developed Japan’s lightest aluminum can with thinner can ends and bodies in 2016. The overall weight of the can has been reduced by approximately 5% (0.8 grams) from 14.6 grams to 13.8 grams. This represents a weight reduction of 33% (6.7 grams) from the 209-diameter can end.
In steel cans for beverages, the weight of the diamond-cut 190-gram steel can used for FIRE Hikitate Bito (low-sugar) coffee was reduced by 17% compared to the 2008 level in 2011.
Transitioning weight of the 350 ml aluminum cans
Japan’s lightest returnable glass bottles
As well as being light in weight, returnable glass bottles need to be durable enough to maintain their returnable functionality and strong enough to ensure consumer safety and peace of mind.
To meet this challenge, Institute for Packaging Innovation made excellent use of innovations such as a ceramic coating that forms a thin film on the bottle’s outside surface, an impact-resistant shape design, and a bottle mouth design that meets the conflicting requirements of being easy to open and able to be sealed tightly and that is also strong enough not to chip, achieving Japan’s lightest returnable glass beer bottles in all sizes, large, medium, and small.
One of Japan’s lightest PET bottles
The Kirin Group’s Institute for Packaging Innovation has continued their technological development efforts with the aim of reducing the weight of PET bottles.
In particular, the weight of the PET bottle for the 2.0-liter Kirin Alkali Ion Water was reduced from 63 grams prior to June 2003 to just 28.9 grams in 2015, with a further reduction to 28.3 grams achieved in 2019, making it the lightest in Japan.
Simply making the bottle walls thinner would make it difficult to maintain the strength of the bottle, so a design was developed that achieved both appropriate strength and ease of holding. Innovations were also incorporated that made it easy even for a small child to crush the bottle after the contents have been drunk. In April 2019, we moved forward with further weight reductions by making modifications to the bottle’s screw top, including making the screw threads narrower and the screw portion shorter. These efforts will result in reductions of PET plastic use of approximately 107 tonnes and CO2 emissions of approximately 375 tonnes.