LONDON — Rexam plc has unveiled a second refillable, polyethylene naphthalate beer bottle for the Scandinavian market.
In 1999, Swedish packaging company PLM AB, part of London-based Rexam, claimed a world-first with the launch of a refillable PEN beer bottle by brewer Carlsberg A/S of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Now, Rexam Petainer, Rexam's plastic beverage container unit at Lidkoping, Sweden, has introduced a 1.25 liter PEN bottle designed especially for the Norwegian beer market. It first appeared in shops in Norway early in March, according to Rexam.
Rexam expects the bottle to grab as much as a 20 percent share of total beer sales in Norway within the next year. Currently, PET bottles produced by local bottle makers hold 12 percent of that market, Rexam said.
The design of the latest PEN beer bottle is based on Norway's traditional glass beverage bottles in size and in its amber color. In contrast, the Carlsberg PEN bottle in Denmark is much smaller, at 0.38 liter and green in color, said Anders Palsson, director for plastics packaging in Rexam's beverage containers division.
The Norwegian bottle was introduced into the bottle-return system run by Norsk Returbrett, the organization owned by the country's breweries. The PEN container can be used by any of the brewers, which include half a dozen major producers, such as the giant Ringnes Group of Oslo and Hansa of Bergen.
Rexam's new bottle has a minimum shelf life of five months and will be reused about 20 times, Palsson said. Rexam claims the oxygen and carbon-dioxide barrier properties of the new bottle are three to five times higher than PET.
"Given the size of the bottle, there is a strong potential for extending the shelf life, after evaluation," he said.
A few million PEN bottles have been produced so far. The company is molding preforms and blowing bottles on one line in Lidkoping. According to Rexam, Norwegian brewers are putting some premium brands in plastic, and Ringnes is launching a total of five brands in PEN.
In partnership with Norsk Returbrett, Petainer already is working to create a system for recycling the PEN bottles into new bottles.
Meanwhile, production of the Carlsberg PEN bottles has shifted from As, Czech Republic, to Lidkoping. Rexam claims sales of that bottle have been steady, and it holds a 10 percent share of the market in Denmark.
Rexam expects other countries with similar refill systems to follow the lead of Denmark and Norway in the use of PEN bottles, he added. Sweden could be next, Palsson said.