Brewers in India are testing a new PET blend that allows a monolayer beer bottle to be pasteurized more easily and that its manufacturer said is cost-effective compared with glass.
The resin, made by Futura Polyesters Ltd. in Chennai, India, is a blend of polytrimethylene naphthalate and PET and is being used in trials by four brewers in India's relatively small beer market.
The PET/PTN blend could convert about 15 percent of India's annual market of 1 billion beer bottles, in part because it offers better performance than traditional PET, according to Futura.
The plastic beer bottles cost more than glass, on a bottle-for-bottle basis, but the blend is actually a little cheaper when factors such as cheaper shipping and fewer problems with plastic on the filling lines are considered, said Sanjay Kulkarni, senior vice president of the Futura Polymers division.
Kulkarni spoke during a presentation at NovaPack Asia 2005, held June 20-21 in Guangzhou.
Futura said the total cost of glass is about 15.7 cents per container, while plastic is not quite 15.2 cents. But a news release from conference organizer Schotland Business Research Inc. of Wellman, N.J., said market penetration depends on glass prices, which have been rising rapidly during the past year.
Kulkarni said India's brewers are starting to commercialize the plastic bottle. He said the bottle will not cause any problems for PET recyclers, because PTN is a polyester-based material.
``It is cheap and most importantly, it is completely recyclable,'' Kulkarni said.
The new bottles can be used in tunnel pasteurization at 140° F for 20-30 minutes, which is better than flash pasteurization because it yields a shelf life of at least three months, according to Kulkarni.
Shelf life could be as much as six months based on bottle design and heat-set blowing conditions, Kulkarni said.
The company said it also could add a proprietary triggerable oxygen scavenger as a masterbatch during molding to extend shelf life.
The PET/PTN bottle blend, which uses a proprietary PET developed by Futura, is 18 times better than PET and 3½ times better than polyethylene naphthalate as a carbon-dioxide barrier; and provides nine times the barrier of PET and twice the barrier of PEN as an oxygen barrier, according to Futura.
The company uses a blend of 8-12 percent PTN, Kulkarni said.
While some question whether consumers will accept beer in plastic, Michael Urquhart, Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. vice president of PET systems, said PET is considered a premium beer package in Eastern Europe, and some U.S. brewers are starting to market plastic.
``The 60-year-olds who drink beer will drink it in glass,'' he said at NovaPack. ``The 20-year-olds grew up with plastic soda bottles.''