In February 2011, Nampak Plastics inaugurated its new bottle-in-plant facility built with an investment of £3.2m. The plant was constructed under a long-term agreement signed between Nampak and Northern Ireland’s Dale Farm in March 2010.

The facility is located next to Dale Farm’s dairy in Pennybridge near Ballymena, Northern Ireland. The Pennybridge dairy produces a range of products such as organic milks, flavoured milks and creams.

It also produces pasteurised milks under Dale Farm’s brands, such as The One. The bottles are used at the Pennybridge dairy and also sold to other dairies in the region.

Dale Farm expansion

Construction of the plant was part of a £36m expansion plan undertaken by Dale Farm for its dairies across Northern Ireland. Dale Farm has made a significant financial investment in the new facility.

“Nampak’s is the first blow-moulding plant in Northern Ireland.”

The bottling plant is the first blow-moulding facility in Northern Ireland and the sixth such facility built by Nampak. Similar plants operated by the company are situated in Glasgow, Severnside and Chadwell Heath. The project created about 20 jobs in the region.

Blow-moulding equipment at the bottle-in-plant complex

The facility is equipped with four blow-moulding lines to produce 100 million milk bottles a year. The first three lines had commenced production in September 2010 manufacturing one pint, one litre and two litre bottles.

The bottle-in-plant facility is a through-the-wall manufacturing facility in which manufactured bottles go straight from the manufacturing process to the filling line.

Financing and investment

Nampak received £254,000 from Invest NI – Northern Ireland’s economic development agency – to construct the plant. Additional funding for the facility was provided by the European Regional Development Fund. Nampak will use part of these funds to develop a market for its plastic bottles across Ireland.

Irish dairy industry benefits

The plant is expected to provide several benefits to Nampak, Dale Farm and the dairy sector in Ireland. It will help Nampak expand its market and sell its plastic bottles in the region.

The plant will also improve the production process at the Pennybridge dairy. As the bottles are used directly after manufacture, the plant will increase operational efficiency and help Dale Farm to meet rising demand for its products. It will also improve the company’s competitiveness in the Irish market.

The government and the dairy industry in Ireland had set a target of incorporating 10% of recycled high-density polyethylene (rHDPE) in their plastic milk bottles by 2010. The target was part of the Milk Roadmap scheme drafted by the government and the dairy industry.

Milk Roadmap scheme

The Milk Roadmap initiative aims to increase recycled content in plastic milk bottles, reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency in the dairy sector. It stipulates an increase in recycled content in plastic bottles to 10% by 2010, 30% by 2015 and 50% by 2020. The Pennybridge facility will help dairy companies to meet these targets.

“The Nampak facility produces more than 100 million bottles a year.”

Nampak had already invested £1.5m in upgrading its other facilities in the UK to add 10% rHDPE content in its bottles. The company is working closely with Closed Loop London and Greenstar WES to secure recycled material.

The new plant will help to fulfil environmental commitments of both Nampak and Dale Farm. In addition to the 10% rHDPE in the production of bottles, the new facility will help to divert recyclable plastic from landfill. 7,000t of virgin plastic will also be saved annually.

Since the facility is located near the dairy plant it will reduce transportation costs and the resultant carbon emissions. In addition, the direct transportation of bottles from manufacturing to the filling line will require less handling of the bottles, leading to lesser damage and waste.