How Much Does it Cost to Produce Plastic Bottles?

by | Nov 5, 2019 | Water Production


How much does it cost to produce plastic bottles? It’s a good question to ask, especially since bringing PET bottle manufacturing in-house can substantially reduce costs. If you’ve found your way to this article, you know how competitive the bottled water industry is. In 2018, for the second year in a row, bottled water was the number one bottled beverage sold in the United States (source). As demand continues to increase, bottlers look for ways to become more efficient and profitable.

How much does it cost to produce plastic bottles?

The bottled water industry has led the way in realizing the cost savings of self-manufacturing bottles. With today’s drive for light weighting bottles, many times it is practical and feasible that bottles be manufactured inline direct blow-to-fill or with a “combi” configuration.

Here at InterTech, we are integration experts. We’ve installed more than 175 pellet-to-pallet production lines in the past 5 years. Together with Process Systems, we have engineered over 1,500 installations worldwide since 1986.

For companies that are currently purchasing bottles and having them brought in, this is a notable way to reduce costs.

The first step to understanding how much it will cost to produce your own plastic bottles is to determine the feasibility of this project for your specific facility.

Request InterTech’s proprietary, detailed cost model

I can’t overstate the importance of doing this. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer regarding the cost associated with producing plastic bottles. Requesting this cost model is the number one way you can get an accurate answer tailored for you. With our detailed cost model, we can evaluate whether or not it makes sense to begin blowing your own bottles, the capital investment required, how quickly you will realize the return on your investment and additional significant factors.

For example, there’s a huge savings on shipping costs. If you choose to buy preforms and blow your own bottles, fill, cap, and label them – that alone will save you shipping costs at a ratio of 10 to 1. Rather than bringing in 10 truckloads of bottles, you’ll bring in 1 truckload of preforms and make the same number of bottles in your facility. In addition to the cost savings, that has a great environmental impact.

Vertically integrating your facility with blow molding also gives you more control over your supply chain, and the ability to manage your peak flow seasonal demands more efficiently and effectively.

Additionally, in-house blow molding gives you an opportunity to blow mold a much lighter weight container. You’ll be able to use less plastic, which will reduce each bottle’s cost.

If a water facility wants to run the super lightweight containers (ie. below 7 grams), it can be a challenge to bring those bottles in from the outside. The problem is that by bringing those bottles in on a skid, they will undoubtedly have to be shrink wrapped and layered. During that process, those bottles can get crushed, dented and damaged.

That’s why bottles purchased from a supplier typically weigh more (9 or 10 grams) in order to get them to the facility in good condition. When you vertically integrate the blow molding in-house, it greatly reduces quality issues in terms of having a pristine looking container when it finally goes out the door with the label on it.


What data will you receive when you request InterTech’s proprietary, detailed cost model of your facility?

With our detailed, proprietary Operational and Financial Feasibility Models, we can provide you with the important data you need to help you make better, more informed decisions. We can evaluate whether or not it makes sense for you to begin blowing your own bottles.

InterTech has specific expertise in all aspects of utility calculation and performance criterion, working with all major manufacturers globally. These in-depth models often reveal hidden costs and opportunities for cost savings that were previously overlooked by equipment suppliers.

Whether you are just starting out, or you have an existing facility that needs to be evaluated, requesting a detailed cost model of your manufacturing process will give you a competitive advantage.

At InterTech, we specialize in these cost models. It’s the differentiating factor that sets us apart in the industry.

According to Mike Curin, business development at InterTech:

Our detailed cost model captures all hidden costs. This way, our client can pinpoint and properly evaluate what their return of investment will be. The hidden costs are often times the things that can make or break a project in the end. In many cases, we’ve helped our clients reduce their costs by 25% or more, which leads to more profitability and an optimized solution for their specific facility.

Although we can make an impact anywhere along the process, the best time to request this cost analysis is on the front end before you start ordering equipment.

Without this information, you may order a certain size or piece of equipment for the packaging line, for the processed water, or for the air pressure system that needs to be in the plant. You may start making a lot of decisions and having a lot of things quoted that may not necessarily be optimized for that particular location.

(InterTech’s Mike Curin)

We evaluate your whole, unique project from beginning to end. This includes your building, how much incoming power is provided by your municipality, the water flow… the list goes on and on.

We understand machine strengths, weaknesses and compatibility across all brands. We don’t represent any specific equipment supplier. We focus on engineering the best system and solution for you. Your best interest is at the forefront of every decision we make. By providing you with the most accurate cost model possible, you are able to make informed decisions based on how much it will cost to produce your own plastic bottles so you can stay competitive and profitable.

Next, in order to make sure you can get your bottle cost as low as possible, it’s important to –

Ensure your bottle design aligns with your production goals, marketing vision and cost analysis

This is another aspect to consider when you want an answer to, “How much does it cost to product plastic bottles?” There are many ways you can reduce your costs, and this aspect is all about your bottle design. Of course you want to ensure that your bottle design aligns with your goals and vision, but it’s also important to consider the cost.

Consumers don’t want to pay a lot for a case of water.

You want to choose a bottle design that meets your goals and vision, but also one that is inexpensive. How do you do that? Let’s consider the biggest cost factors in terms of creating a PET container.

First, there are the raw materials. Raw materials can account for as much as 70% of the bottle cost. Other cost factors to consider are the amount of electricity you will need to produce that bottle and the amount of high pressure air you will need to blow the container. Anything you can do to minimize these costs can result in a significant reduction in your bottle manufacturing costs.

There are many variations in how these costs can be considered. For example, let’s say our client who makes juice decides they want to start producing water also. They might say, “I want to manufacture 500ml bottles of water, which is the same exact bottle that I am currently using for juice. I’m just planning on interchanging different labels for private label branding purposes, but the container itself is going to be the same. I want to have four plants across the USA.

In that situation, we can give our client guidance about how to design their packaging line. In this particular example, you would have to be very careful because contributing factors can change based on the manufacturing space. Each of the four locations will be different in terms of electricity, water flow, etc. It all comes back to the detailed cost model I talked about earlier.

How Much Does it Cost to Produce Plastic Bottles?

I also want to take a moment to mention the taste profile of your water. It’s one of the most important things to understand when you are bottling water. Water is probably the most sensitive beverage in the beverage industry in terms of taste profile. The taste of your water can be affected by many things, but the most significant is the AA level.

When you are processing PET resin and injection molding a preform, part of the molding process when you heat up plastic is rubbing the plastic together in the injection unit. This creates frictional heat that helps bring the plastic into its semi-molten state so that it can be injection molded.

While that is happening, you are creating a byproduct called acid aldehyde (AA). It’s important to minimize shear during the injection molding process to keep the levels of AA extremely low, with a goal of zero, to preserve the taste profile of the water. This is why it’s important to start with a high quality preform. That way, the AA level won’t enter into the taste profile equation.

Whether it makes sense for you to make your own preforms (which is an option) – or ship them in – be sure to start with a high quality preform before you reheat it and stretch blow mold it into a bottle and then fill it, cap it, label it and send it out the door with water in it.

The next time you’re wondering, “How much does it cost to produce plastic bottles?” I hope you think of the tips in this article. Whether you are thinking about opening a new facility, expanding your production capabilities to include water, or even just looking to reduce your costs, InterTech’s experienced team of engineers can provide you with the data you need to make informed decisions.


For over 35 years, InterTech has helped hundreds of food and beverage plants implement a variety of manufacturing projects. Whether it be a single line or multi-plant roll out, we have helped reduce their operating costs by $2-10 million per year.

Let us model your operations and show you the feasibility of your project ideas. The earlier we get involved, the more money we can help you save.

For multi-plant clients, we have helped develop long-term plans to capitalize on the savings of initial projects in order to support future projects whose returns are lower.

We also develop Requests for Information (RFIs) or Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for major equipment so our clients can be assured they are getting the correct equipment at the best value. By assembling all of the information we receive into a Total Cost of Ownership, we can forecast operational costs for the long-term and establish budgets for plants that have not previously been self-manufacturing their bottles.

Our clients include Cargill, AAK, Constellation, Ghirardelli, and both Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola (and their respective bottlers) and many others. We invite you to view a more complete list of our esteemed past and current clients.

Working with InterTech’s experienced engineering staff will help you make informed decisions and avoid costly changes.

120 Interstate North Parkway SE
Suite 102
Atlanta, GA 30339


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