Ardagh Group has teamed up with Dassault Systèmes and EXXERGY for a trial project that aims to increase the strength and reduce the weight of glass bottles.
In January 2022, the three companies will begin 'virtual twin' trials on Diageo's Johnnie Walker bottle to research and develop a coating that will make the glass bottle lighter without compromising its strength and shape.
A 'virtual twin' is a real-time digital representation of a product or process used to model, visualize, and predict innovations before physical trials occur.
The virtual trial will pioneer science-based sustainable innovations to reduce the time and cost needed to test glass products and reduce the raw materials and energy used in the process, Ardagh added.
The project will involve the development of an external coating for the glass bottle to reduce micro-cracks in its surface, allowing the glass to be lighter while maintaining its strength.
The lightweight glass bottle will be 100% recyclable and, if successful in the virtual trial, will undergo glass bottle testing from the summer of next year.
John Sadlier, chief sustainability officer at Ardagh Group, commented, "Ardagh Group has pioneered the lightweighting of glass, and as a leading global supplier of infinitely recyclable, sustainable metal and glass packaging, we have a responsibility to respond to the sustainability challenges we all face.
"Together with our customers and supply chain partners, we are eager to explore the potential of digitalisation to drive new and innovative lightweighting solutions."
EXXERGY, an international consulting firm active in the renewable and glass sectors, will research and develop the coatings for Diageo, makers of Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Gordon's gin.
Dassault Systèmes will provide contract research services using its BIOVIA applications to create a nanoscale virtual twin of the coatings, simulate their interaction with the surface of the glass, and test their efficacy.
Lightweight glass is one of the solutions for reducing the glass sector's CO₂ impact and carbon emissions in the manufacturing and transportation of finished goods.
"There is a growing urgency to change our ways of production and consumption. We need to rethink everything, and dare to imagine the boldest sustainability initiatives," said Florence Verzelen, executive vice president, industry, marketing and sustainability at Dassault Systèmes.
"Using Dassault Systèmes' virtual twin technology, companies can design and simulate radically different new sustainable materials, products and processes in record time. They can be right, but also sustainable the first time," Verzelen added.
'Sustainable Packaging Is A Key Priority'
Lucy Fishwick, head of procurement – Grain to Glass Sustainability at Diageo, stated, "At Diageo, sustainability and particularly sustainable packaging is a key priority. We're excited to be part of this pioneering trial that embraces the principles of our Diageo Sustainable Solutions platform, which encourages innovation and collaboration in developing scientific solutions to the impact of climate change.
"We've made a commitment in our Society 2030 strategy to have net-zero carbon emissions across all operations by 2050 or earlier, and should this trial be successful, it's a great step towards us achieving that."
Ardagh Group reported an 11% growth in revenue at constant exchange rates in the second quarter of its financial year, boosted by higher shipments of both metal and glass packaging.