SAB is one of the only businesses in the world, and the first in South Africa, to introduce environmentally friendly Core Linerless Solutions® labels for its product packaging.
The labels, which have no release liner, were developed in partnership with Ritrama, and completely suppress the waste of the release liner of older self-adhesive labels.
Ritrama, an Italian private multinational with a South African-based business, is considered a market leader in design, distribution and manufacture of self-adhesive products.
The new Core Linerless Solutions® labels will help reduce the Group's impact on the environment by 57 tonnes/yr.
The perforated Core Linerless Solution® label is directly applied to a bottle without the need to remove the release liner (process waste) as is the case in ordinary less environmentally friendly labels used on many products in the market.
SAB's flavoured beer, Flying Fish, was selected as the first to trial the new innovative linerless label. Because it is a fast moving brand, the business will be able to identify any glitches and correct these in the quickest possible time.
After labels for Flying Fish have been changed over to the new system, SAB will proceed with converting the rest of its product range.
"Innovation with societal benefits is at the heart of much that we do at SAB and our global parent company, AB InBev. We are conscious that we have an impact on the environment and that there is an obligation on our part to reduce this for the sustainability of society and for the business as the two are integrally linked.
"Our consumers can be assured that when they enjoy our products there will be less waste and less impact on their surrounds," says Alexander Talbot, ZITEC Director, SAB.
The innovation was prototyped and trialled over a period to ensure SAB had a product that it was confident could bring environmental benefit to the market.
The project began in 2017, and moved into pilot phase in the fourth quarter of 2018. Full-scale production started in April 2019, and a trade test period has been completed, with bottles with Core Linerless Solutions® labels successfully sold through retailers."
Bottle front labels will be next to be converted and SAB expects to make this change in the next 24 months.
The new labels have required SAB to make some upgrades to its production labelling line. The new machine heads ILTI can apply 36,000 labels per hour and, as the reel can carry a double number of labels thanks to the reduced thickness, there are less reel replenishments and therefore less disruption to the production process.
The new labelling technology provides an opportunity for South African suppliers to adopt the new technology, creating jobs and increasing economies of scale.
Ritrama Product Manager Core Linerless, Sergio Veneziani, says, "This was an exciting cross functional team process of value innovation development to undertake in partnership with SAB. It gave us the opportunity to stretch our world-class capabilities even further. We look forward to rolling this technology out even further for the benefit of the local environment and broader society."