This short post is about a container I find very attractive visually. It’s a beverage can with a body made of PET. It was going to be included in a more generic post about innovations in beverage cans, but I think it works better on its own.
I found about hybrid PET-aluminum hybrid can on a website in 2010 (unfortunately I could not find it). However, I have seen very few examples in the market, at least in Europe.
Looking back as far as 1984, an article in The New York Times announcing production of a plastic soft-drink can for the Coca-Cola Company. The joint venture in charge of production was called Petainer Development Company, but the only company with this name I’ve found is a PET keg manufacturer.
In 1987 The Los Angeles Times published an article about a California-based soda maker that would use the Petainer’s pilot plant could produce up to 100 million cans per year. In the same article mentions the first environmental concerns
Here’s an interesting concept for beer cans from 2014 by Remark Studio. As far as I know it was never commercialized.
The Invento can
The technology originated in Poland in 2007. The technology behind the plastic can is built around the preform itself and the processing equipment, using a two-stage blow molding and stretching process.
Examples in the market
A Malaysian company called Glinter has a wide range of products using PET cans.
And Tickle Water uses PET cans for its sparkling water products.
PET cans: Pros and cons
The only edge a plastic can has over its aluminum counterpart is in marketing appeal. It’s possible to play with the product’s color and see texts through it using transparent sleeves.
The main disadvantages were at first the material costs, but barrier materials and a multi-layer injection processes have lowered packaging costs.
Regarding internal pressure resistance, a current 250 ml PET can withstand 6.2 bar of internal pressure, the same as aluminum can, so there’s no problem in using them for carbonated drinks.
Clearly the main issue is their sustainability.
The first environmental concerns were described just from the start. Already in 1987 an Atlanta-based soft drink maker refused to use these cans until “key recycling issues” were resolved such as finding workable collection methods and uses for the recycled materials.
In 1986 Coca-Cola relinquished the rights to this technology after protests from environmental groups. The PET can was marketed only in states with bottle deposit legislation. Among the problems of recycling a multilateral container were fires in aluminum reprocess operations caused by mistaking them for aluminum cans (Packaging and the Environment: Alternatives, Trends and Solutions, 1990, Susan Selke).
Some 30 years later the Association of PET Recyclers (APT) have expressed concern about PET cans contaminating the PET stream (note: this does not apply to non-beverage polypropylene cans such as Milacron’s Klear Can or Sonoco’s TrueVue).
My 2 cents
PET cans offer very vibrant and rich possibilities ,allowing to play with the artwork and the product colors . The use of sleeves (even PET sleeves) may worsen their recycling issues.
It’s not clear for me why a PET can should present more recycling difficulties than a beverage carton, for instance. I cannot be impartial because I’m particularly fond of this cans, and hope to see more of then if /when recycling process improve their sustainability.
May 2018, Bruno Rey – The Packaging Blog –