Case Study: Optimizing Packaging Recyclability and Life Cycle of Plastic Containers


With so many packaging options for water consumption all over the world, the global plastic crisis is now putting pressure on water companies to focus on recyclability instead of single-use plastic containers. Water demand has also increased sharply, especially in parts of the world where safe drinking water is unavailable.



This particular company wanted to optimize packaging recyclability for 5-gallon water jugs. Since it is difficult to determine how many times each jug has been reused, jugs that are still in good condition are often thrown away for safety purposes, even if the container could be reused a few more times without compromising consumers’ safety.

There was also a need to improve the packaging life cycle. Since the jugs are largely distributed, a significant amount of these containers are often damaged or lost during transportation. Furthermore, the cause and location of these occurrences remain unknown.

Ensuring safety is a main concern for this prominent Food & Beverage company, as using a water jug too many times can greatly affect consumers’ health due to presence of plastic fragments that can arise over time.



• Contribute to the company’s circular economy objectives by increasing the recyclability of 5-gallon jugs and optimizing the packaging life cycle.
Gain visibility on the water jug distribution supply chain and returns.
• Decrease purchase-related annual costs.
• Optimize overall business operations.



• Marking technology has to be damage-proof.
• Scalability options.
• Solution must be able to process 5-gallon jugs already on the market.
• Need reporting and dashboards to ensure supply-chain mapping.


OPTEL’s scalable solutions provided precise, unit-level traceability on the customer’s 5-gallon water jugs:
• Each jug is assigned a Unique Identifier (UID) engraved in the plastic material.
• During the manufacturing process, OPTEL’s cloud-based software can decode the UID and gather data on each jug, providing real-time visibility on all filling plants.
• Aggregation from jug to rack was also implemented to thoroughly follow each item.


OPTEL’s traceability solutions ensure full packaging
recyclability and offer supply chain insights,
benefiting both companies and consumers.



The customer now knows how many times each 5-gallon water jug is being used and has optimized its packaging recyclability. Plastic waste and purchase costs for new jugs have also been reduced, without compromising safety standards.

Actionable data is now available for further bottle authentication at every step of the supply chain, up to the final consumer.

The next step is integrating a collaborative platform for the final consumer to authenticate its water jugs, mitigating fraud and illegal production.



Related topics:

Traceability and influence: Keys to sustainability and the circular economy

Using traceability to solve the plastic problem

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Case Studies & Use cases

Real-world applications of traceability solutions. OPTEL is a multinational traceability solution provider helping Fortune 500 companies tackle food fraud challenges and improve supply chain visibility.