Glass bottles have become the mass-market containers that come closest to a circular economy. Arkema is extending their lives, and focusing on one market in particular that weighs heavily on a global scale: returnable beer bottles.
1,960 million hectoliters: the amount of beer consumed worldwide every year… 42% of which is sold in returnable glass bottles. “Deposits are mainly taking off in the southern hemisphere, especially Latin America and Asia, where this is how most beer is sold,” says Isabelle Birken, Business Manager Glass Coatings. “They are falling out of use in northern countries, where producers gamble, successfully, on collection and recycling.” In all cases, returnable beer bottles are still the container whose production generates the lowest carbon emissions, ahead of aluminum and PET (polyethylene terephtalate) so we need to look after them, especially since the global supply of sand is falling. And this is what Arkema’s Glass Coatings activity is for – the range of Certincoat® coatings is the most popular in the world for improving the solidity of new bottles.
As for returnable bottles, two complementary ranges offer a considerable extension to their life cycle. The Kercoat® covering delays the appearance of fissures and scratches; used after every wash, it can extend the use of a bottle to 50 cycles, compared to 20 traditionally. And Opticoat® emulsion reduces the appearance of fissures and marks, which makes the containers more attractive. “The two solutions can be used either separately or together, depending on the individual bottler’s strategy,” says Isabelle Birken. Like the Petropolis group, number three in the Brazilian market, which opted in 2019 to apply the Opticoat® solution to its Premium range, showing that it is possible to improve the user experience by making bottles look almost new, even as part of a sustainable development drive, by preventing the disposal of scratched bottles.
Produced and applied at a lower temperature, and allowing increased incorporation of recycled aggregates, warm mixes are on the rise, driven by Arkema among others, and leading us down the road of low consumption…
Just 150g of Cecabase RT® surfactant additive mixed into the asphalt makes all the difference between one ton of hot-mix asphalt and one ton of warm-mix asphalt. To make hot-mix asphalt requires a temperature of 160° C, while warm-mix asphalt is produced at 120° C. “This gap means a 25% reduction in production site fuel consumption and easier conditions for the workers applying the asphalt to the roadway,” says Eric Jorda, an expert working for Arkema. The Group has been a leader in additives for road mixes for many years and strengthened its position in this market with the 2019 acquisition of ArrMaz, leader in specialty surfactants based in the U.S., a country in which warm mixes are seeing strong growth.
In large urban centers like Mexico City, warm mixes have enjoyed long popularity, and this success is now reaching many other countries, especially in northern Europe and the United States, where additional cost for the additive is becoming less of a barrier in the face of public demand for improved resource use. They also have another advantage – by improving “fluidity” of the asphalt mix, Cecabase RT® additive promotes recycling of aggregate from breaking up old roadway, which helps to save natural resources such as granulate and, most particularly, asphalt. “The use of Cecabase RT® additive significantly increases the share of recycled road aggregate, which can reach 30-40% in the warm mix, compared to just 20% in the hot mix, without any need for different machinery,” concludes Eric Jorda. This is a substantial advantage at a time when national regulations (especially in Europe and the United States) are increasingly banning disposal of end-of-life road aggregate in landfills.
Cecabase RT® is made using 50% bio-based raw materials (without any impact on food production).