FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. - In the highly competitive carbonated soft drink market, bottlers and syrup makers are looking for anything that can give them an edge. Such is the case with Colum-bus, Ga.-based Royal Crown Co. Inc., maker of RC Cola and several other significant brands.
Michael Bowers, manager of packaging development for the soft drink manufacturer, said he is interested in developments in production of polyethylene naphthalate and PET. The resins were topics at Bev-Pak '96, held April 15-17 in Fort Lauderdale.
``Basically, we are interested in anything that can extend the shelf life of our products,'' he said. ``Our products typically are on the shelves longer than say, Coke or Pepsi, and the barrier qualities of PEN ... sound very interesting.''
The conference was dominated by PEN, the cousin of PET, which has demonstrated higher barrier and hot-fill tolerances than PET, and recently was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for direct food contact.
Many packaging makers tout PEN as the answer for the long-desired goal of packaging beer in plastic, and Bowers said if costs can be controlled, it could be an answer for his firm's products.
PEN's FDA approval came in early April and was only for the homopolymer variety made by Eastman Chemical Co. of Kings-port, Tenn. However, most packagers at the conference saw it as the opening of the door of possibility for the resin, noting that as end uses develop, production will increase and price will decrease.
Production of PEN by Eastman and Shell Chemical Co. has been limited, because there is only one source for the main monomer, 2,6 naphthalene dicarboxylate - Amoco Chemical Co. Amoco sells NDC for about $1.50 per pound, which could make PEN polymer pricey at about $6 per pound, some sources say.
``We don't have our own in-house bottle makers,'' Bowers said. ``But we work very closely with independents and with the bottlers to give them a competitive advantage. I would like to be able to go to our bottlers and give them some alternatives, and if there is some risk, we have taken risks before.''