[GRRN] Plastic Beer Bottles

RecycleWorlds (anderson@msn.fullfeed.com)
Mon, 28 Dec 1998 11:14:22 -0600

There is an article in the 12/21/98 Plastics News ("Shell Heats Up Beer
Market," by Frank Esposito) that suggests that:

1. The plastic beer bottle vendors may be targeting premium brand
beers as well as the lower grade beers. I wonder whether that this may be
an additional inference from the statement by Shell's Ed Sisson, PEN
Business Development Manager, that their new PEN copolymer bottle "can
produce beer bottles with the traditional 'champagn' base. Beer marketers
want to retain the base to differentiate plastic beer bottles from similar
bottles used for soft drinks and juice, according to Ed Sisson."

2. The target container has previously been thought to be intended to
displace glass bottles. However, it may be that displacement is especially
targeted at cans down the road. Sisson also is quoted stating: "'We believe
the beer market will evolve in two tiers,' Sisson said. 'The first market
will be sports venues and beaches and places where you can't use glass or
metal. The second tier will be in the substitution phenomena where plastic
bottles will gain an advantage over cans.'"

This is important for evaluating whether beer can be introduced in plastic
bottles without either increasing the cost to process all PET bottles or
lowering the value received for the recycled PET bottles. That is because
any of the technologies used to provide the additional barrier protection
required by beer over that required by soft drinks will leave some residue
of the barrier material in the PET flake. Since there is some trace level
of such contaminant below which the resulting deterioration in performance
will be below the threshold for recycled bottles, the more plastic beer
bottles, the harder it will be to remain below that threshold.

By way of further reference to guage how many beer bottle may be shifted
from glass and/or aluminum to glass, refer to the following table--
(billions of container units)

Beer Soft Drink Other
GLASS 16.7 0.9 17.9
ALUMINUM 34.2 62.6 0
PLASTIC 0* 21.4 10.7**

Peter Anderson
RecycleWorlds Consulting
4513 Vernon Blvd. Ste. 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Phone:(608) 231-1100/Fax: (608) 233-0011

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