Concert-goers in England are among the first in the world to drink beer from three-layer PET bottles manufactured and patented by American National Can Co.
The Chicago-based company developed the technology and bottle design at its technical center and plastic bottle engineering group in Neenah, Wis. Larger sized bottles and single-layer PET bottles have been used to package lager, but ANC claims this is the first single-serve, multilayer beer bottle.
``We are still developing this project, and we are pleased with the success seen in laboratory testing, getting it ready for [Bass Brewers Ltd.] and filling and distribution to date,'' said Carol Constantine, vice president of communications for ANC. ``There is very exciting potential for this technology.''
The green, 330-milliliter PET bottles have a metal crown closure and are the same shape as Bass Brewers' standard glass beer bottles. The bottles, consisting of a layer of PET, ethylene vinyl alcohol and PET, carries a 12-week shelf life compared to six weeks for other plastic bottled beers.
``We think we can get an even longer shelf life,'' Constantine said.
Preforms are molded using a proprietary coinjection process at the company's Belleville, Ohio, plant. The bottles are then blown at ANC's Batavia, Ill., facility and shipped to England. Because ANC commonly uses multilayer packaging, the equipment did not need much modification for this particular package, Constantine said.
Bass Brewers approached ANC in May and received an exclusive PET beer bottle targeted for specialty events, such as outdoor concerts, stadium events, hotels and nightclubs. The Burton-on-Trent, England-based firm plans to sell more than 10,000 bottles of its best-selling brands — Carling Black Label brand and Hooper's Hooch alcoholic lemonade — at each of 15 live concerts at Midland '97. The concerts are held at Battersea Power Station Dec. 4-22.
``The new bottles are ideal for this sort of large-scale event where drinks would normally be poured into plastic cups,'' Ray Rhodes, managing director of R&W Concessions, said in a news release. The firm is the exclusive concessionaire for the Midland '97 events.
``Bass' new plastic bottles are much quicker to serve, cutting queues and making sure drinkers get clean, cold drinks which look good and taste good. The audiences at Midland '97 have certainly warmed to the new bottle and we expect to serve 30 percent to 40 percent more drinks as a result of the increased speed and efficiency they give us,'' he said.
Starting Dec. 15, the Bass PET bottles will also be available in a limited number of retail outlets.
``There has been a great deal of discussion on marketing beer in PET and if it can be held efficiently and effectively there is exciting potential in niche markets,'' Constantine said.
She added that food and fruit juices with strict barrier and shelf life requirements have great potential for this multilayer packaging.
A case history of this development will be presented by Bill Dando, director of package development for Bass Brewers, at Nova-Pack Americas '98 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 26-27. Nova-Pack is sponsored by Schotland Business Research Inc. of Skillman, N.J.
ANC had estimated blow molding sales of $85 million last year, placing them at No. 20 in Plastics News' 1997 North American Blow Molders ranking. It serves primarily the food and beverage markets.
ANC's parent company, Pechiney, is located in Paris.