The Atlanta Business Journal recently reported that the Coca-Cola Company filed for a patent on a new packaging concept that has captured some public attention. While the beverage retail manufacturing giant refused to go into detail about the new packaging, the patent application suggests that the company is looking into manufacturing drink packages which combine paper, cardboard and citrus fibers in what Coke calls the “Peel pack” alluding to the peel of the citrus fruits they intend on utilizing. Which beverages will be clad in the new packaging remains to be seen, but experts suggest that the Minute-Made brand products are a likely fit for the new citrus-centric packaging design.
What is most intriguing about Coke’s new packaging concept, from a manufacturing standpoint, is the ingenuity and thought processes which may have brought about the design. All manufacturing operations are familiar with the fact that product making has an inherent level of waste production. Whether you are working with wood, metal, plastic or other materials scraps, excess trimmings and other “unusable” waste is generated many times throughout the process. Many of these materials are collected and repurposed during other stages of production.
Coke has taken this commonplace manufacturing phenomenon and would seem to be adjusting their packaging strategy to it. There is no doubt that citrus pulp is abundant in many Coca-Cola brand production plants as it is a natural byproduct of the manufacturing juice process. This pulp would generally be discarded as wasted, and until now represented a huge amount of lost potential. Some commentators have commended Coke for the innovative waste reduction tactic, noting that utilizing such fibers might actually make the packaging and products more sustainable.
Reducing waste and repurposing materials is always a strong strategy in manufacturing for cutting costs and overall increasing efficiency and productivity. This process can also help reduce manufacturer’s liability when it comes to environmental impacts and waste production.
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