Coors Brewing Co. Inc. has rejected plans to join its beer-making brethren in rolling out PET bottles to a wider audience.
The nation's third-largest brewer will stick with its current strategy to use plastic bottles only for special events at stadiums and other larger venues, said Joseph Bussey, project manager for Golden, Colo.-based Coors. He was interviewed Jan. 28 at Nova-Pack Americas 2002 on Amelia Island.
``It is significantly difficult to be in PET,'' Bussey said. ``You won't see us rolling out PET bottles nationwide. It isn't in our plans at Coors, and I don't think that will change any time soon.''
Bussey would not go into detail, but said the decision largely has to do with economics. Making bottles from glass is dramatically less expensive than using PET.
He also cited environmental concerns about recycling post-consumer PET for bottles, an area that other brewers are exploring. Coors has a strong environmental mandate, he said. While PET can be recycled, collecting the bottles has been a major hurdle, and the low cost of virgin PET makes the recycling economics difficult, he said.
``We want our suppliers to look at all they can do to collect bottles and lower costs,'' Bussey said. ``Until recycling is proven to work and be cost-effective, we can't consider it for a million-plus-bottle product rollout.''
Coors mainly agreed to stadium sales to counter competition.
Both Miller Brewing Co. and Anheuser-Busch Inc. have started selling plastic bottles in retail stores on a limited basis and hope to grow that market into a profitable niche.
Coors rivals have said that the price of PET bottles, while higher than glass, will drop sharply once consumers accept the change.
Yet, PET bottles have gained unwanted attention in recent months from beer-throwing incidents at two professional football stadiums, leading to some sports teams considering a ban on the sale of plastic bottles during games.
At the Nova-Pack conference, a source with a PET resin company who did not want to be named said plastic beer bottles will remain an extremely small part of the industry for years to come. But he held out a longer-term hope that consumer adoption eventually will drive volumes upwards. ``We're counting on the younger generation to use plastic,'' he said.
Conference keynote speaker Timothy Burns, principal of packaging consulting firm Cranial Capital Inc. of Williamsville, N.Y., also alluded to the miragelike promise of plastic beer bottles.
While many converters are counting on PET bottle making to fuel their businesses, that growth has not come, Burns said. And if beer producers do make a successful run with plastic bottles, they might end up making their own packages, he said.
``Do you think Anheuser-Busch is going to save you?'' Burns asked rhetorically.