The KeyKeg system, designed by Lightweight Containers, adds value not only to its direct customers, but also to the entire supply chain. Anita Veenendaal, the company's chief commercial officer, discusses how it offers a sustainable alternative and guarantees delicious beer.
Lightweight Containers' website connects brewers and wineries with distributors and end users to expand their export network. This way, the company maximises value for its direct customers and expands its services to make beverage packaging more efficient and environmentally friendly.
"There was a hole in the market," says Anita Veenendaal, chief commercial officer of Lightweight Containers. "Brewers wanted to expand their business by exporting their beers globally, and they were struggling to do so with heavy steel kegs that were inefficient and costly to transport. These companies were paying more for steel than beer."
This is why KeyKegs have such a groundbreaking design. KeyKegs weigh 1-1.4kg, which is tiny compared with a steel keg's 7-10kg. They stack very well in storage and are easier to handle as well.
During transportation, 25-30% more KeyKegs can be loaded than conventional kegs. This means fewer vehicles and less mileage; the kegs also do not need to be returned, which reduces transport costs even further. The company estimates that its clients save 65% on their total transport costs.
With these 'one-way' kegs, brewers and wineries do not need to take deposits from end users and distributors, so there is less administrative work to complete.
KeyKeg's eco-design incorporates patented double-wall and bag-in-ball technology. The former protects the keg's inner bag with a protective double wall. Its safety measure is so robust that KeyKegs can withstand very high pressures and a 1.5m fall without sustaining a dent. Its bag-in-ball technology ensures that beer stays fresh for up to five weeks during dispensing - this is five times longer than most steel kegs.
"No propellant gas comes into contact with the beverage in the inner bag," Veenendaal says, "The beer comes out tasting just as the brewer intended. Clients can also dispense the keg with compressed air, which removes the need for costly CO2, nitrogen or mixed gases. KeyKeg's bag also protects the beer by blocking out sunlight, which is something our competitors can only do by using blended or coloured PET."
By virgin PET and polypropylene, Lightweight Containers' design can be reused multiple times. Every keg is made from 30% recycled material and is fully recyclable.
"The circularity of our products is important to us," says Veenendaal. "Currently, our kegs are 81% circular, so from every keg we get back from our customers, 81% can be used to make new KeyKegs. The remaining 19% is recyclable."
This was an essential consideration in the company's eco-design, and the product's different materials can also be separated easily by a simple mechanical process.
"We like to think that we go further than simply recycling," Veenendaal affirms. "Instead of making products that can be recycled for another use, we have designed them to fulfil their original purpose."
Lightweight Containers takes its role seriously as a sustainability leader. "We have a mission in the company to produce 'one-way' kegs that have the lowest CO2 emissions globally," Veenendaal explains. "We try to produce our kegs as close to our customers as possible."
KeyKegs are used all over the world, with production facilities operating in the US, the Netherlands, the UK and Germany. Veenendaal admits there is much to do in meeting the company's eco goals, but she is optimistic.
"We want to ensure that the basic materials of every single KeyKeg are reused for new KeyKegs. Lightweight Containers does this by cooperating with players in the market, including bars and governmental institutions. We want to ensure that KeyKegs are collected and recycled, so the company can remake new kegs from them," Veenendaal says.
While it encourages customers to return the used kegs, they can still be easily prepared for recycling on the premises.