The opening of Asahi Beverage’s upgraded Wulkuraka manufacturing plant in South-East Queensland means more than 300 million litres of soft drinks, iced tea, waters, and juice will be produced at the site every year.
Schweppes, Solo and Pepsi Max are already made at the site, with Cool Ridge water, Lipton Iced Tea and Pop Tops juice now joining the production line.
Asahi Beverages Group CEO Robert Iervasi said the investment nearly doubled the plant’s annual production capacity, with three new lines, increased sustainability, and more jobs the key achievements.
The Wulkuraka upgrade includes two new bottling lines and a 39-metre-high distribution warehouse. The facility will operate 24/7.
“Perhaps the upgrade’s most exciting part is the new hot-fill and blow-fill line, which will make Lipton Iced Tea and Pop Tops.
“The line’s innovative design means these drinks will be made without preservatives and using bottles inflated on-site from small pieces of preformed plastic.
“These are more sustainable than pre-inflated bottles because many more can be delivered to site per truckload - significantly reducing truck trips and carbon emissions,” Iervasi said.
Iervasi said the line will help the beverage manufacturer reach its sustainability goal of reducing Scope 3 carbon emissions across its entire supply chain by 30 per cent by 2030.
“Asahi Beverages will also reduce carbon emissions in its operations by 50 per cent by 2025,” said Iervasi.
Asahi’s sustainability commitments include being a founding member of the ANZPAC Plastics Pact to create a circular economy for plastics.
It is part of Circular Plastics Australia, a joint venture with beverage competitor Coca-Cola Europacific partners, Pact Group, and Cleanaway Waste Management. The JV opened its first $45 million PET recycling plant in March.
At the time, Iervasi said, “It can’t be underestimated how significant this project will be – we are providing an industry-wide solution that will benefit all Australians. Asahi Beverages already has a large beverage manufacturing plant in Albury, and we are excited to expand our presence, helping create more local jobs,”
Nearly all of Asahi’s 450ml and 600ml soft drink bottles are already made with recycled PET, but its goal is to have transitioned all bottles to 100 per cent recycled or eco-friendly materials by 2030.
“Our consumers told us they wanted more recycled bottles, and together we have worked out a way to do that that will make a real impact,” Iervasi said.
The second plant is due for completion in 2023 in Melbourne’s west.
It’s sustainability achievements range from purchasing agreements with local producers rather than sourcing from overseas, replacing plastic ring packs, solar projects and an electric truck trial with Linfox.
This latest $55 million expansion brings Asahi’s investment at the plant to more than $100 million in the last five years. It has also created more than 12 new full-time jobs, with the plant now employing around 130 people full time.
“In addition to new jobs within the facility, more than 170 jobs were created during construction with dozens of Queensland companies involved,” Iervasi said.
Iervasi was joined at the official opening by Asahi Group global president and CEO Atsushi Katsuki and Asahi Holdings chairman Roland van Bommel.