KHS Group and E.Leclerc realise showcase project for the French beverage market

Innopack Nature MultiPack
Innopack Nature MultiPack

French retail chain E.Leclerc has an ambitious target: to significantly reduce the amount of packaging material used for its own brands. It, thus, began looking for an environmentally-friendly alternative to classic shrink film for its water brand Marque Repère. In KHS, the company found a competent partner that was able to reliably meet its exacting requirements. In 2020 and 2021, Aquamark subsequently invested in two Innopack Nature MultiPack machines from the Dortmund systems supplier. With this resource-conserving system the bottler will save more than 250 000 metric tonnes of plastic per annum in the years to come.

In looking for a suitable alternative, Aquamark’s general manager Hubert Decroix remembered reading an article in the KHS Group’s customer magazine on the development of the Snap Pack some time ago. The Carlsberg Group launched the system to market in 2018 in cooperation with KHS. The Snap Pack is based on the environmentally-friendly Nature MultiPack packaging system engineered by the Dortmund systems supplier that forms beverage cans or PET bottles into packs using dots of adhesive. “In theory, this system without any secondary packaging was exactly the answer we were looking for, for our PET bottles,” said Decroix. He, thus, spoke to his French KHS representative Thierry Tanezie, whom he has been in close contact with for many years.

Innopack Nature MultiPack
Innopack Nature MultiPack

A period of intensive talks followed, with both parties encouraging and challenging one another, as Thierry Tanezie remarks. “Aquamark made high demands of us regarding product quality, machine efficiency and the use of resources,” claimed Tanezie. One big challenge marking the start of the project was the low weight of the bottles to be processed. “Lightweight bottles hadn’t yet featured in the development of our Nature MultiPack technology. As Aquamark understandably didn’t want to make any changes to its bottle design, we adapted our packaging system so that lightweight packs can now be processed on it without any trouble whatsoever,” explains KHS’ sales manager for France.

The adhesive needed to hold the containers together played a key role in the optimum implementation of the customer’s specifications with the amount used to join the client’s 1l bottles reduced from 1.8g to 1.0g. “The dedication shown by KHS’ expert team was truly impressive. They understood and implemented our complex requirements perfectly. This is by no means par for the course, but the result of a fantastic exchange of knowledge from which both parties profit in the long term,” praised Decroix.

The numerous further developments and cooperative nature of the companies’ partnership convinced the beverage bottler to invest in the resource-conserving KHS system for its 1l bottle in 2020. In May 2021, the first Innopack Nature MultiPack machine with an output of up to 25 000 bottles/hour was successfully commissioned. Since September 2021, the new six-packs have been marketed at E.Leclerc’s around 750 supermarkets throughout the nation – with great success. Since the market launch, sales have increased by 15%. “This new style of packaging is very popular with our customers. They understand that we want to make a valuable contribution to the protection of our environment with our Nature MultiPacks,” explained Decroix. By doing away with the shrink film, Aquamark currently saves about 25 000 metric tonnes of plastic a year. Soon it will be 250 000 metric tonnes/year.

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