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Re: [GreenYes] FYI: future of plastic beer bottle

 From Waste News (Feb 4, 2002)

Columns Bottle barrage won´t halt PET´s march
By Peter Anderson

Following the ban on plastic beer and soft drink bottles at football 
stadiums when fans in Cleveland and New Orleans used those bottles as 
projectiles, there has been a flurry of doom and gloom stories on what this 
means for the future of the plastic beer bottle.
The Plastic Redesign Project, a coalition of public recycling officials, 
would like to place these in perspective for stakeholders in the bottle´s 
In the larger scheme of things, those unfortunate events are little more 
than a speed bump in the development process leading to commercialization 
of bar-rier enhanced poly-ethylene terephthalate bottles. The first 
demonstration of a plastic beer bottle took place 34 years ago in 1967 at a 
trade show in Cologne, Germany, using a prototype polyvinyl chloride 
container. Not until 1998, 31 years later, was there a commercial launch of 
a first-generation barrier enhanced PET bottle by Miller Brewing Co. using 
a multilayer plastic container manufactured by Continental PET Technologies.
However, in the Plastic Redesign Project´s view, even though sports venues 
are the only market in which the plastic beer bottle has received market 
acceptance, that has little bearing on the future. Stadiums have never been 
more than a niche market compared to the mass market sales potential in 
liquor stores, supermarkets and convenience stores.
Because the price premium imposed by the first-generation bottles has met 
market resistance outside of stadiums, the Plastic Redesign Project has 
always assumed that the future would lie with a second-generation design 
that was less costly to produce. And the time it will take that second 
generation to be designed, recyclers hope, will afford more room to educate 
bottle designers about recyclers´ needs. In this period, the designs can be 
tweaked for better downstream compatibility than the first-generation 
bottle provided.
According to a Plastic Redesign Project report, if the first-generation 
bottle had been introduced in the mass market, between 2.3 and 5.9 cents 
per pound would have been subtracted from the average 8 cents per pound 
that recyclers receive for PET bales. That loss would have threatened the 
long-term viability of PET recycling.
Nonetheless, despite the first-generation bottle´s problems, we have 
calculated in our report that the potential size of the beer market for 
plastic bottles is 3.2 billion pounds annually. This potential just for 
beer bottles would almost double the total PET bottle production of 3.5 
billion pounds. Then there are other major barrier markets. Recyclers fully 
understand that this prize is more than sufficient inducement to ensure 
that new lower-cost barrier designs will be developed over time.
Although the first-generation vendors did not meet recycling resistance, 
that was only because their high prices kept sales sufficiently low that 
contaminant levels were inconsequential. The second-generation bottle will 
undoubtedly overcome the cost obstacle. When it does, however, sales 
penetration will reach saturation levels, and recyclers and concerned 
consumers will have to vigorously protest in order to survive if the 
designs are economically incompatible with back-end processing capabilities.
So even though stadium sales for the first-generation plastic beer bottle 
are in jeopardy, that obstacle can be a valuable lesson. It provides time 
to take a breath to make sure that the next generation´s launch will be 
free of the kinds of roadblocks that impeded the first-generation bottle´s 
We have the utmost confidence that a solution can be found if both sides 
commit to work together. When that cooperation happens, the events in 
Cleveland and New Orleans will be just a footnote in packaging´s grand 
Anderson is project director of the Plastic Redesign Project. For more 
information, go to
(Feb. 4 issue)
[ Opinion ]

At 07:54 PM 2/3/02 -0800, Helen Spiegelman wrote:
>url accessible only to subscribers. Can you post article by Peter?
>At 09:45 AM 02/03/2002 -0800, you wrote:
>lù–0;While we're on the subject of plastic bottle recycling AND
>>Peter Anderson, here's a url to Waste News opinion piece
>>by Peter on the the future of the ubiquitous PET beer bottle.

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