Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) in Milton Keynes is the company’s second-largest facility in the UK, with nine production lines. The site first opened in Northfield in 1976 and now produces more than a third of all canned Coca-Cola products made in the UK.
The site produces the standard 330ml loose can as well as six packs, 12 packs, bag-in-box syrup products for draught drink production in fast food establishments (such as McDonalds), fridge packs and Capri-Sun drinks.
The Milton Keynes site has the world’s first 2,000-can-per-minute filling machine for sparkling soft drinks and recently installed a new canning line to increase production levels, especially of the 80ml and 500ml cans of the company’s new Relentless energy drink. It is the only facility in Europe able to can Relentless.
In January 2009 CCE unveiled a new £12m canning line at its plant in Milton Keynes. The facility was opened by Conservative MP Mark Lancaster. Steve Thorpe, CCE operations director at Milton Keynes, said: “The opening of the new line is a great achievement for the organisation.
“Not only are we set to increase our productivity and efficiency as a company, we are also meeting the need to recruit a number of employees from the local area, which we find particularly rewarding in the current climate.”
“In order to maintain the successful functioning of the site we have increased the site workforce by 10%, employing an additional 25 people from the community.”
The upgrade involved line one at the Milton Keynes site. The work started on 19 December 2008 when the old line was closed down. The first part of the project was the removal of all of the old filling and canning equipment to make room for the new line.
At the same time the space was fully refurbished with new hygienic finishing to all walls, floors and ceilings and new installation of utilities. A new cold store building for ingredients was also constructed along with a new loading bay to increase the efficiency of dispatch of products from the new line.
The refurbishment part of the project was undertaken by Newport Pagnell Construction (civil works was a £1.1m contract), which was principal contractor for the project and involved in the planning and budget preparation stages in early 2008.
On 26 January 2009 the refurbishment project was finished and the area was handed over to German equipment installer KHS for the new canning line to be installed. CCE installed the new canning line to reduce carbon emissions and production costs by cutting transportation and increase the output of the canning operation.
The new line is able to produce 1,500 x 330ml cans per minute. It is also flexible and able to can in various sizes if required.
With the increase in environmental responsibility CCE has realised it is able to save resources and cut greenhouse gas emissions by cutting down on the material used in its aluminium cans.
CCE is supporting the UK Government’s Courtauld Commitment, which will reduce the amount of household packaging waste through the use of recycled material and making cans and bottles lighter with less material.
Each year about two billion aluminium cans are filled at the manufacturing sites in Wakefield, Sidcup and Milton Keynes. Rexam, Ball Packaging and Crown are the suppliers of can body and end stock and have made cans lighter by 30% since 1987. Beverage Can Makers Europe (BCME) is also involved in the project.
In September 2008 this was taken a step further by reducing the can weight by a further 5% in a new design.
A report from Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) said this will save 15,000t of aluminium across the EU and prevent 78,000t of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. CCE has now reduced the weight of the body of the 330ml can by using material that is only 0.097mm wide, the same thickness as a human hair.
In the past projects to make cans lighter have involved using less material in the base. At the end of 2008 about 6.5 billion of the new lightweight cans were produced and distributed and in 2009 about 15 billion of the new light cans will be produced.