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EUR 10 million center will speed up new packaging and product developments

SIG is celebrating the official opening of its EUR 10 million Packaging Development Center Europe, located at the site of the company’s packaging plants in Linnich, Germany. The center will accelerate new and most sustainable packaging developments and offer SIG customers added value.

The new center features state-of-the-art extrusion and finishing technology, coupled with advanced quality measurement systems and testing equipment. It will significantly increase packaging processability in serial production, system validation and capacity for future digital technologies.

As demand for more sustainable packaging options increases, the new Packaging Development Center Europe will speed up the development of innovative packaging formats and materials to further expand SIG’s leading position in sustainable packaging solutions. It is built according to the latest and most effective energy standards.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) has announced that its Genshagen manufacturing site near Berlin is the latest to be certified as carbon neutral, in line with the international PAS 2060 standard.

This is CCEP’s first carbon neutral site in Germany, and one of six across its markets.

The certification follows a range of significant efforts to drive down emissions at Genshagen, which were reduced by around 70 % between 2014 to 2021 following improvements to energy and water efficiency along with recycling.

Genshagen is one of six CCEP sites to be certified as carbon neutral, as part of CCEP’s ambition to reach Net Zero by 2040 and reduce our GHG emissions across our entire value chain by 30 % by 2030 (vs. 2019). Sites are selected to apply for certification based on their previous carbon reductions and, once certified, will continue to work to reduce emissions year-on-year in line with PAS 2060 requirements.

The Genshagen site is one of 14 CEP plants in Germany, with around 180 people working to bottle 21 different beverages on three production lines including Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Fanta.

The news follows CCEP Germany’s recent investment into reusable packaging, with a commitment of 140 million euros for returnable bottles. The investment will fund a new filling line in Lüneburg, Northern Germany, along with a new packaging machine for glass bottles in Mönchengladbach, West Germany, boosting CCEP’s plans to expand the availability of drinks sold in returnable glass bottles.

GEA Group AG, as key project partner, has provided innocent, one of Europe’s leading smoothie and juice brands, with the process technology for the world’s first carbon-neutral juice factory. The new factory in the Netherlands will lead the way for future plants in the food industry with a truly sustainable approach. Located at the Rotterdam Food Hub, the production facility is scheduled to open officially in spring 2022.

In the new-build project, GEA is responsible for the process, refrigeration and heating technology. Early involvement in the design planning phase enabled the company to develop numerous innovative process changes that significantly help innocent on the path to reaching its climate goals.

“The innocent project is an outstanding example of how we put our purpose of ‘engineering for a better world’ into practice,” said GEA CEO Stefan Klebert. “Not only have we integrated the most resource-efficient technologies, we have also entirely rethought the processes as well as the heating and refrigeration systems. Together with innocent, we have pushed the envelope beyond standard beverage production practice.”

Energy supply and demand cycle

Since much of the energy used in production is for heat, GEA worked intensively on in-process energy and resource efficiency. The company also applied the sustainable energy solutions (SEnS) approach. This factors heating and cooling requirements into the systems right at the planning stage, instead of after the fact when corrections are virtually no longer possible. For instance, a GEA heat pump will recover waste heat from the refrigeration systems and reuse it in other process steps. GEA and innocent recently won gold in the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) People’s Choice Award for this smart heat pump design.

GEA builds world’s first carbon-neutral juice production facility for innocent
The intelligent heat pump design in combination with the process adaptations convinced the audience at the Heat Pump Awards 2021: GEA and innocent drinks jointly won gold in the People’s Choice Award of the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) for the new juice factory. Every year, the EHPA honors the most efficient and sustainable heat pump solutions with the Heat Pump Award. (Photo: GEA)

Showcase for the entire beverage industry

Taking a 360-degree view of the process chain will allow innocent to substantially cut its carbon footprint while massively influencing other parameters such as water consumption and waste generation.

“I take my hat off to GEA because they have been at our side every step of the way, helping us challenge conventional design approaches. All the little details add up to a great success,” said Andy Joynson, Chief Blender (Site Director) at the new innocent plant. The new solutions implemented go far beyond conventional beverage production processes. “Food and beverage manufacturers can choose to base their future plant designs on our model. We want to inspire and support a broad-based transformation. In line with that, we are consciously inviting the industry to share in our findings—and at the same time to learn from our missteps and our successes.”

innocent, manufacturer of healthy drinks, opens its own factory, the blender, for the first time since it was founded in 1999. After a trial period, the first juices and smoothies roll off the conveyor belt last week. The production has a total capacity of up to 300 million litres per year for the whole of Europe.

innocent was the first customer to choose Rotterdam Food Hub as its location, because its products and ingredients have to travel much shorter distances here, reducing its logistics chain by 20 %. The blender is a completely carbon neutral electric drinks factory, in which everything revolves around sustainability. The brand new factory will create 200 new jobs for Rotterdam and the surrounding area.

The blender: carbon neutral and sustainable

One of the ways in which innocent achieves its sustainability ambition is by generating energy from wind turbines and solar panels. The heat from the factory is also reused. The blender is not only carbon neutral, but also sustainable because it uses significantly less water and produces less waste. As part of the cooperation between the 500 B Corps that share the same sustainable ambition, a commitment was made in 2019 to be fully carbon neutral by 2030, 20 years earlier than agreed in the Paris Climate Agreement.

However, innocent harbours the ambition to achieve carbon neutral operations by 2025 through compensation projects. In order to operate completely carbon neutral, innocent has entered into a partnership with Rotterdam-based Zero Emission Transport Company BREYTNER and joint venture partner HN Post & Zonen. They supply a complete fleet of electric 50-tonne trucks for transporting the orange juice by tank. With this step, innocent lays the foundation for completely zero-emission transport in the future. In addition, the smoothie and juice producer hopes to inspire other companies to adopt sustainable, emission-free transport.

innocent opts for the Port of Rotterdam

The Port of Rotterdam was the best choice for innocent, as it ensures that the distances for delivery of raw materials and distribution of the smoothies and juices are much shorter than elsewhere. “innocent’s supply chain largely comes together in Rotterdam; the juice and other ingredients arrive in containers at the Port of Rotterdam.

“The construction of our own factory in Rotterdam Food Hub will shorten innocent’s supply chain by 20%. It doesn’t stop there. From the drawing board to production, the blender was designed with sustainability in mind. This holistic approach and use of the latest technology makes Blender a factory that is better for people, planet and business.” says Andy Joynson, site director innocent.

Emile Hoogsteden, Commercial Director, Port of Rotterdam Authority: “We are proud to welcome innocent as the first customer of the Rotterdam Food Hub. The arrival of the sustainable blender factory is a great fit with the Food Hub’s concept of accommodating various fresh and frozen food flows. In addition, innocent’s sustainability ambitions are perfectly in line with those of the Port of Rotterdam.”

Rotterdam Food Hub

With the realisation of the Rotterdam Food Hub, the Port of Rotterdam Authority aims to further expand its position as the largest West European transit port for products in the agriculture and horticulture sectors. The business park, located on the Calandkanaal at the entrance to the Maasvlakte, occupies about 60 hectares and has been specially designed to optimally facilitate companies in the agrifood sector.

The agrifood sector involves handling perishable goods and speed is crucial. This is why the Food Hub occupies a central location. The large deep-sea container terminals are just a stone’s throw away, as are Cool Port and the cold storage warehouses on the Maasvlakte and in Eemhaven. The proximity of Greenports such as Barendrecht, Ridderkerk and Westland also make this an ideal location. Another advantage is that various facilities can be shared at the Rotterdam Food Hub site. It means that quays and facilities related to transport, storage, access control and customs, among others, can be shared efficiently.

More than half of the Rotterdam Food Hub site has now been released to customers. More companies will follow in the coming years.

Growth market

Agrifood is a growth market due to the increasing population and the rise in prosperity, especially in emerging economies. After the United States, the Netherlands is the world’s largest agricultural exporter. In 2020, trade amounted to almost €96 billion. It has helped make the Port of Rotterdam the market leader in Western Europe with 19 million tonnes of transshipments per year. The creation of the Rotterdam Food Hub responds to the increasing need of businesses in the agrifood segment for locations offering possibilities for short chains.