I remember reading about the BottleOne technology back in 2018. The article in Plastics News about this new PET bottle with an integrated PET handle originally caught my attention.
It starts out:
“For decades, Bill Duelge says, designers and packaging makers have been trying to figure out how to create a cost-effective, one-piece, blow-molded PET bottle with a handle for mass production.”
A PET bottle with a blow-molded, built-in handle? For years people have said that couldn’t be done. It was impossible… or was it?
Bill Duelge is the co-inventor of this revolutionary PET bottle technology, and he hopes it will change the world.
As he explained to me, “Everyone in the industry told us it’s impossible. That’s what people call a unicorn. It’s rare and mythical. You’re never going to find it. You’re never going to get there. But for us, it came true.”
Several months ago, I met Bill and Jennine Duelge at a birthday party for a mutual friend. I wasn’t expecting to meet him and his wife that night.
Before then, I had heard InterTech’s founder, Greg Kershner, talk about how InterTech was the only approved engineering firm to handle the transition from HDPE to BottleOne. He talked about how exciting it is to be part of this transition time in the packaging industry.
When I held one of these innovative BottleOne bottles in my hands, it felt like I was holding something very special, like I might look back on that experience in 20 years while explaining to my grandchildren that I held one of the first BottleOne bottles ever made.
When I realized Bill Duelge was at the same party as me that night, I grabbed my phone, started recording, and asked him for a little chat about BottleOne. Even with the loud music playing and the constant distractions, he was one of the most interesting people I’ve talked to in a long time. I found him to be cutting-edge, inspiring and forward-thinking.
I hope you enjoy this interview that explains his vision behind BottleOne, and the spark of creativity that made it possible.
Diana Adams: I’m excited to talk with you for a few minutes tonight. Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions. First, I have an obvious one. Where did this idea come from? Why a PET bottle with a built-in handle?
Bill Duelge: A long time ago, I was responsible for 24 on-site plants where we made HDPE bottles. 20 of them were dairy plants, and 4 of them were water plants. I spent a lot of time on the production floor talking to the dairy men and the people who were buying the bottles. I understood their pain points and what they had to go through every day.
One night I was having dinner with a colleague of mine, Jim Thibodeau, a brilliant engineer and innovator. He sketched out some ideas on a cocktail napkin. One of those ideas was for a PET bottle with a built-in handle. I immediately knew it was an idea that could change the world. I could see the possibilities.
Long story short, that night, we decided to begin this journey together. We wanted to develop a technology that we could license so people could do whatever they want with it. We wanted to create something that people could use to make great things happen.
Diana Adams: What a great story. How did you and Jim conceptualize a way to make BottleOne a reality?
Bill Duelge: Jim is like an engineering savant. If there’s a Rain Man of plastic containers, it’s Jim. He’s a brilliant problem solver as an engineer. He said, “I can do this.” And I said, “Stop right there. Do you have any idea what this would mean to the industry?” He said, “Yeah, I think it would be pretty cool.” I said, “It’s world-changing!”
Diana Adams: In other words, BottleOne is like a next generation PET bottle.
Bill Duelge: Exactly. Now fast forward and all of a sudden you don’t need brown boxes or plastic crates anymore to ship your product. We’ve made a bottle tough enough to send without the box or crate. That makes everything less expensive. The environmental impact is huge.
Diana Adams: Can you elaborate on the environmental impact?
Bill Duelge: Sure. We’ve got a guy we are talking to right now who does about a million cases a year. Our BottleOne technology is so strong that those bottles can be stacked on top of each other without the need for cardboard boxes. In other words, the standard box can be replaced with a single sheet of cardboard and stretch wrap.
This means those million cases are going to save about 70,000 trees. And then there’s all the electricity and transportation that just go away also. In addition to all that, BottleOne bottles are made of 100% recycle code #1 material. Recycle code #1 is never a single use plastic. It is always 100% recyclable. It should never be thrown away.
Diana Adams: Aside from the things you’ve already mentioned, what makes BottleOne different from the current HDPE bottle?
Bill Duelge: The big difference is that since we use a different method to make the bottle, it seals hermetically. You can store it upside down in your refrigerator if you want. You can put the cap on it and lay it down — it won’t leak. You can deliver this bottle with groceries to your door and not worry about leaks or contamination. It’s very different from today’s dairy containers.
Diana Adams: How do you envision the BottleOne changing the world?
Bill Duelge: This is much bigger than just a bottle, and that’s because it has the Triple Bottom Line (people/planet/profit). This bottle is cheaper to use, the product inside tastes better, it will travel farther, and it’s easier to store and pour.
To add to this, there is an ROI associated with using the BottleOne technology. BottleOne injection molded handle preforms are sourced at Handle Preforms. Anyone on the sales team at BottleOne can walk you through the economics. We also did the feasibility studies for dairies.
The savings are on the filling side and throughout the supply chain, but the big opportunity is in increased margins.
Diana Adams: I’ve held the bottle. It’s very comfortable to hold.
Bill Duelge: If you take the bottle, whether it’s empty or full, and lift it straight up, it swings so you’re ready for the first pour. That’s the one you always spill, right?
Diana Adams: Always!
Bill Duelge: We designed the handle in the pocket so as soon as you lift it up, it swings to the spot where you can pour it and never spill it.
Diana Adams: Wow. Incredible. What has been one of your biggest challenges along the way?
Bill Duelge: The biggest challenge has been figuring out how to communicate something as monumental as this, something as rare as this. We found a unicorn and we’re breeding it. It’s not a myth anymore. It’s real, it’s today. We can lower cost, and we can raise productivity. We can even help with recycling on the environmental side.
Diana Adams: This is exciting. There must be some nights when you find it hard to sleep. You call it a technology, but it almost sounds like a PET bottle design.
Bill Duelge: It’s not a design. It’s a manufacturing and design technology. We have 8 US patents, and 4 US patents pending. We have patents approved in 27 countries, and pending in 10 countries. We’ve got a handful of trade secrets in the technology. We’re out looking for people to transfer this technology to — people who want to change the world with it.
InterTech is the only approved engineering firm to handle the transition from HDPE to BottleOne.
Diana Adams: What exactly is InterTech’s role in this process?
Bill Duelge: At the end of the day, you’ve got a piece here and a piece there, but somebody has to turn that into something bigger than the parts. InterTech’s job is to take all the parts and make them work together. They make it all go.
I can do things in the lab that would amaze you, but someone has to do it on third shift, in a production plant somewhere. If BottleOne’s technology is really going to have the impact we want it to have, someone has to do that.
InterTech’s role is to make that happen. InterTech makes sure the benefits we talk about are deliverable to the people who want to use it. They have the dream team who make it all work.
We think we can change everything. We can get brown boxes and milk crates out of grocery stores. Anything that’s liquid never needs another brown box or plastic crate again. It doesn’t know it, but its days are gone. It’s been obsoleted. It’s a very exciting time for us.
Diana Adams: Thank you, Bill. It has been amazing to spend this time with you. If someone is interested in learning more about BottleOne, how do they find you?
Bill Duelge: It’s easy. They can book a consultation, and we’ll show them how BottleOne will dramatically impact almost every aspect of their supply chain. We can introduce them to this 21st century operating model. Just click on the link below.
Let us show you how BottleOne will improve your operating efficiencies and increase your profitability
BottleOne is an affordable large capacity, standard grade PET bottle with an integrated PET handle. BottleOne is designed to dramatically impact your supply chain. Let us introduce you to this 21st century operating model.