Amcor Rigid Plastics will have a bottle production operation within a factory which is aiming to be the world's first LEED platinum certified manufacturing facility in its industry.
Green cleaning products maker Method Products pbc is building the facility in Chicago.
The Melbourne, Australia-based Amcor Ltd. has been making containers for Method's biodegradable hand wash, dish soap, laundry detergent and household cleaners since 2005, and it helped design the signature tear-drop shaped bottles, Dan Gehling, account manager of Amcor's food, home/personal care group, said in a telephone interview.
Amcor will run a 24/7 operation with 20 to 30 of its employees making 100 percent post-consumer recycled (PCR) PET bottles for Method at the new plant. The bottling operation will take up at least 15 percent of the space of the facility, which reportedly will be a 150,000-square-foot building.
“I can't give the exact square footage but we'll occupy probably between 15 and 25 percent of the building space,” Gehling said. “That will be dedicated to the production of the containers they will then fill and market to consumers.”
Headquartered in San Francisco, Method is incorporating an array of green building elements into its first U.S. manufacturing plant. Plans call for the world's biggest green roof at 75,000 square feet, solar panels on the building and in the parking lot, and a refurbished 230-foot wind turbine that will generate a significant amount of the plant's energy. Wind and solar energy will provide about half of the factory's annual electrical needs.
“Our facility won't be powered by solar but it will be powered by wind,” Gehling said. “That will be a first for Amcor.”
Amcor has 23 on-site bottling operations, with 15 in Latin America and eight in the United States. The benefits of on-site bottling include reduced freight costs and carbon emissions. The use of 100 percent PCR resin further lowers cradle-to-gate energy consumption by 52 percent and the package's carbon footprint by 57 percent, the company says.
On-site production of recycled bottles keeps 600 trucks off the road each year and eliminates more than 200 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to Amcor.
Even though Method is trying to reduce the environmental impact of its products with on-site bottling, Gehling said Amcor's operation isn't making it any easier to achieve the highest level of certification offered by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council.
“Blow-molding operations are more energy intensive than filling operations typically,” Gehling said. “The addition of the bottle manufacturing on site actually makes the LEED certification more challenging. We had to be very creative about how we managed that together to achieve the ultimate goal of platinum LEED certification.”
The use of renewable energy in the form of wind power, skylights and building materials that meet cradle-to-cradle requirements will be incorporated into the bottling operation and help Method obtain LEED credits.
Method is building on 5 acres of a 22-acre site on the south side of Chicago, where the green roof will take urban farming to new heights.Greenhouses will top the facility and grow up to 1 million pounds of fresh produce a year for local grocers and restaurants.
On the ground, Method also plans to improve the environment for the remaining 17 acres of its site by planting native trees and perennials. The facility, which is on track to be the first LEED platinum factory for the consumer packaged goods industry, is scheduled to open in early 2015.
Method's products, which are billed as putting the “hurt on dirt and not people, animals or the planet,” are carried in 40,000 retail locations around the world. The company's primary markets are household cleaning and personal care. Amcor supplies those categories with containers.
In all, Amcor has 60 facilities in 13 countries and employs about 27,000 people. The company is among the world's largest manufacturers of plastic packaging for the food, beverage, spirits, personal/home care and health care industries.