Q. What is Oxebar PTY LTD and why did you decide to manufacture one way kegs in Australia?
A. Australians invented the one way keg in 2002 and it was done by a company called Ecokeg. It was quite advanced at the time and I still take my hat off to this company as they were real pioneers. Ecokeg however did have issues and ended up ceasing manufacture in Australia a number of years ago. Several other competitors came onto the scene with competing technology which was better than Ecokeg such as Keykeg, Polykeg, Dolium and Petainer. These companies have done a respectable job at improving on the Ecokeg original design but they have also not been perfect. The new Kegasaurus kegs have several advantages including superior oxygen scavenger, more robust design and superior valve design. Most of all though, we have completely revolutionized the manufacturing process of one way kegs and we are the only manufacturer using single stage manufacturing technology to make our kegs. It’s quite exciting that we can now say Australians are once again leading the next wave in one way kegs.
Even though one way kegs bring significantly logistical efficiencies and have the ability to reduce the carbon footprint and operation costs of a brewery while also broadening that breweries customer base they have not widely been used in Australia up until now. One of the reasons for this is that most of the one way kegs used in Australia have to be imported from overseas and also the other big reason is nobody has made a one way keg to suit the Australian excise tax system. These are a couple of the major reasons why we knew we needed to start our own Australian production plant.
Q. What is the single stage manufacturing technique and why is it better for keg production?
A. The basic illustration below shows how plastic resin is processed into finished kegs. This process is done in two steps and it’s normally done at two different locations. The first step involves a company that would buy raw resin (that looks a bit like rice) and then melts the resin and blend up colours, oxygen scavengers and other ingredients to make preforms. These preforms are then shipped to a blow molder who re-heats the preforms a second time before blow molding into a finished container.
PICTIRE 1 – Two Stage One Way Keg Manufacturing Process
As you can see in this illustration the single stage process means we have one machine that heats and blends the resin with oxygen scavenger, colourant and other ingredients then blows the finished container.
PICTIRE 2 – Single Stage One Way Keg Manufacturing Process
There are several advantages of the single step process such as:
- Resin is only heated and processed once meaning it does not degrade as much. This gives better mechanical properties making the kegs more robust.
- Significant energy saving and cost saving in the manufacturing process as we only heat and cool the resin once.
- Significantly fresher oxygen scavenger when the kegs are made as the oxygen scavenger is only mixed with catalyst right before the keg is blow molded. Other 2 step processes can result in preforms being shipped and stored for months prior to blow molding the finished keg meaning a significant proportion of the scavenger is already depleted.
- The single stage process gives us significantly better control over preform quality as it’s manufactured in house.
- The single stage process also enables us to make unique preform shapes that are difficult to use on two stage machinery.
Q. What are the advantages of your process?
A. In a nutshell single stage manufactured kegs can produce kegs that are more robust, better designed and keep the beer fresher for longer. Single stage manufacturing techniques have also enabled us to make the world’s largest one way beer keg which is 50 litres. In fact, this is the largest PET preform/stretch blow molded product in the world. The machine to make these kegs was the first of its type in the world so in order to get where we are now we had to push the boundaries of what blow molding machines could do with PET plastic.
Q. What was the need for 50L one way kegs?
A. Australia is the only place on earth that I know of that has a special excise tax that gives a price break for kegs that are over 48 litres. Typically, if you sell a beer keg that is over 48L you will save about $50-100 in excise tax depending on the alcohol content of the beer. This strange excise tax has meant there is a need for 50L one way kegs specifically in Australia but no other country in the world. This was one of the other reasons why a new type of keg needed to be designed specifically for the Australian market. With that said, using what we have learned about single stage manufacturing of one way kegs we have also found a need for similar kegs to be manufactured in America and China. We have plans to work with a partner in America who will use our valves and components and start up a new keg production plant in the US later this year. We also plan to have a manufacturing site in China that will make one way kegs for the local Chinese market. This will be a lightweight 20L size.
Q. What is the Single Stage Blow Molding Process and how does this make your one way kegs different from other one way kegs in the market?
A. After having worked with one way kegs for the past decade it was clear to me that the single stage manufacturing method was a superior method of making one way beer kegs. Not only is it significantly more energy efficient but it’s also significantly more cost effective at converting raw materials into finished kegs as we do not have to rely on a third party to make our preforms.
Q. What about the environmental impact of plastic kegs vs stainless steel kegs?
A. To answer this questions it’s important to fully understand the alternatives. Traditional stainless steel, kegs are transported to bars & restaurants then be transported back to the brewery consuming fossil fuels in both directions. One-way plastic kegs can potentially half the distance the keg needs to travel which significantly reduces this fossil fuel burden. Furthermore, Kegasaurus kegs require no aggressive chemical cleaners and sanitisers which saves valuable water and minimizes the carbon footprint in this respect. Kegasaurus kegs are made completely of recyclable components and one of our challenges is to ensure our kegs are recycled responsibly and completely. We are lucking enough in Australia to be able to say that our rates of recycling are higher than they have ever been. Higher volume of our plastic wastes is being recycled every year which is encouraging. One of our goals is to make sure that all Kegasaurus kegs are recycled responsibly.
In summary, Kegasaurus kegs are generally more environmentally friendly for beer transported long distances. For beer transported shorter distances traditional stainless kegs may be the best option. The most environmentally responsible decision is for the brewery to use a mix of kegs in stainless and single use kegs depending on the distance and location that the beer is being transported.
The most important thing when it comes to plastic is not to avoid the use altogether. Plastic has the ability to reduce our overall carbon footprint, improve the freshness and shelf life and food waste but its imperative that these valuable plastics we use are recycled and continue to be reused and do not end up in landfill.
Q. What excites you most about this new venture of Keg Manufacture?
A. The most exciting thing about this new venture is that we can work with local breweries to export kegs overseas. In the past few years the Australian dollar has made it difficult for Australian breweries to take advantage of export sales of kegs. Now with the low Australian dollar and a locally made high quality one way keg being manufactured in Victoria we are in a great position to export beers overseas.
We have so many amazing new craft breweries in Australia but up until now broadly speaking we have not done a great job at exporting our fantastic beers overseas. Many other countries such as America, Germany, Belgium, and even right next door in New Zealand export a higher proportion of beer than we do in Australia. This is a strange anomaly considering we have so many incredible micro-breweries. I believe it’s time that we changed this trend. The Kegasaurus kegs give Australian breweries and beverage manufacturers the edge they need to compete on the world stage and I hope it’s a product that allows Australian breweries to expand their customer base overseas.