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Zijiang strongly promotes the sustainable development of PET bottles
Source:CPRJ Editorial Team    Author:Ivy Zhang    Date:16.Dec.2019

Shanghai Zijiang Enterprise Group, listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, has been committed to researching and developing innovative eco-friendly materials. It is a packaging supplier and strategic partner of many global brands, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Uni-President, Danone, Johnson & Johnson, Kodak, KFC, Unilever, etc.

Established in 2005, the Container Packaging Division is the core business unit of Zijiang Enterprise. The Division specializes in PET bottles and PET preforms, with production capacities of 7 billion and 15 billion per annum respectively. It runs more than 40 subsidiaries and branches in seven geographic regions in China.

The Division adopts the “go together with the giants” business development strategy. For example, it supplied preforms to Swire Coca-Cola in Guangdong for the first time in this August. This was also the first time for Zijiang Enterprise to enter the core market in Southern China in the last 30 years. This completes the company’s strategic blueprint for developing PET business with Coca-Cola in seven geographic regions in China.

For the last 14 years, the Container Packaging Division has devoted to the innovation of PET packaging. From early design to forming processing, we strive to promote lightweighting and environmental friendliness, guaranteeing on time delivery, added values and customer satisfaction,” said Yi Deping, General Manager of Container Packaging Division, Shanghai Zijiang Enterprise Group, in the interview with CPRJ.

He also emphasized that Zijiang Enterprise strictly follows the national laws and regulations, setting benchmarks in the industry by meeting the “zero-defect” standard.

PET Bottle the trend of rigid packaging

Zijiang Enterprise specializes in the production of bottles and preforms.Despite the slowdown of Chinese domestic economy and investment, and the consuming power of customers is affected, Yi Deping is still optimistic about the packaging industry.

He believes that although the demands on packaging products of some brands may fluctuate to some extent, the packaging market as a whole will grow. 

 “Taking food packaging as an example, personalization  and small batch production are the main trends. For food and daily chemical packaging, PET bottle is gradually replacing PE packages,” he said.

According to him, PET is superior to PE in terms of price of raw material and is easy for mass production and processing. The presentation of PET bottle on the shelves also has an advantage over PE.

Yi Deping also emphasized that PET bottle has a higher recycling value and a wide range of downstream recycling applications for the development of circular economy. For example, renewable PET bottles are used to produce carpets and garments, etc.

In 2018, the scale of the global PET packaging market reached US$63.8 billion, according to the latest report of market research firm IMARC Group.

The report analyzed that PET is especially suitable for F&B, personal skin care and pharmaceutical packaging products, because it has good thermal stability, high durability and is solvent and halohydrocarbon resistant.

IMARC Group forecasts that the global PET packaging market will grow at a CAGR of 4.8%, reaching US$84.5 billion by 2024.

At present, beverage packaging accounts for 90% of the business of the Container Packaging Division. The Division is starting to expand in other fields such as daily chemicals, dairy and seasoning packaging. 

Automation at low cost a better choice

As the Container Packaging Division manages over 40 subsidiaries and branches, how to operate the factories efficiently and drive advanced smart production is a big challenge.

In addition to analyzing the data and feedback collected, ensuring consistent quality in different factories, automation is also one of the effective methods to drive smart production.

Yi Deping believes that it is not practical to introduce big and hi-tech smart equipment for packaging manufacturers which are transparent in cost and sensitive to price. Instead, adopting automation at low cost is a better choice.

In Japan, adopting automation at low cost is called “Karakuri” and is one of the elements of lean production.

For Zijiang Enterprise, almost all applications of automation at low cost start from the creativity and ideas generated from the frontline employees of the factories.

For example, its factory in Southwest China had to produce a new rectangular bottle last year. Due to an asymmetrical bottle shape, workers had to be arranged for trimming the empty bottles during packing, resulting in very low efficiency.

After evaluation, the Container Packaging Division planned to ask its packing equipment supplier to develop a customized packing system, but the investment would cost over RMB 500,000 with a delivery time of three months.

At last, the electrical equipment engineers of the factory decided to reconstruct existing machines according to their technical experience and actual demands.

Within a shorter period of only two weeks, the problem was solved by just changing the direction of the packing platform and adding a set of automatic pushers.

At the cost of about RMB 10,000, the labor was thus reduced by 70% and the packing efficiency was increased by three times. The reconstruction could also be expanded to other factories of the Division.

 “When the employee engagement initiatives are fully developed and the production flow is improved and optimized, enterprises can maintain their driving force. The employees’ sense of achievement can also be reflected,” Yi Deping added.

Strengthening international presence

Zijiang Enterprise is following the Belt and Road Initiative and actively exploring the international market. Zijiang Enterprise has invested to build a factory in Ethiopia, which is the company’s first perform factory in overseas.

 “Ethiopia has a population of 105 million. The political situation is stable and the economy is growing fast at there, attracting many beverage and bottled water enterprises to invest and build factories. This is one of the major reasons for us to build a perform factory in Ethiopia,” Yi Deping explained.

According to a World Bank report, the GDP of Ethiopia was US$80.28 billion in 2018, and the country is the fastest growing economy in Africa as well as the second fastest in the world.

World Bank forecasts that the GDP of Ethiopia will grow at 8.1% from 2018 to 2021. The country has subtropical forest and steppe climates, and the demand for carbonated drinks and bottled water is huge.

Yi Deping pinpointed that Zijiang Enterprise has planned and set up the production lines of its factory in Ethiopia according to the Chinese standard, ensuring the product quality is consistent with that of other Zijiang Enterprise factories.

Our factory has great influence in the Ethiopian packaging industry now, as we enhance the level of local perform production processing technology”, he remarked. 

The factory in Ethiopia is the first step for Zijiang Enterprise to strengthen its international presence. In the future, the company will continue to explore the overseas market in accordance with global market demands. 

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